My message to senior football players on Friday night: Look around. Take it in. Appreciate the moment.
It will all be gone, oh so fast.
And once it’s gone, all you will have are memories that will be with you for a lifetime.
For most of the seniors playing high school football, this will be your last time under the Friday night lights. Your last time strapping on the helmet. The last time you join your teammates in battle on the gridiron.
And even for those that have the playoffs in front of them, maybe this is the last time you’ll play on your home field. Or, maybe it was last week. Or, maybe it will be next week. But sometime soon, you will walk off your high school football field for the final time and, believe me, it will be emotional.
At least it should be, if you are paying attention.
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Take it from an old football player, or from your dads, or your coaches, or anyone you want to ask that once wore your school colors against the green and white grass grid in the shadow of your high school – playing for your high school football team is something you always remember. The memories of which you will always cherish because these are your glory days, the times of your lives you will not get back.
Soon, seniors, you will graduate high school and go off to college, or go off to the military, or off to work. You will have to grow up. You won’t be able to be just a kid anymore, and enjoy the freedom all that includes. And in no place is being a kid more amplified than being with your teammates on a football field. Teammates you have grown up with, played with since you could barely balance your helmet on your shoulder pads. There have been bonds created between all of you that are special because of the shared experiences. The losses, the wins, the long summer practices, the cold October nights, getting yelled at by your coach or singing the school fight song in the end zone following the game.
And we don’t only have to be talking about football players here. Seniors in all sports will feel the same thing at some point this school year. That final volleyball game, final time on the basketball court, the wrestling mat, the baseball or soccer field – playing high school sports is special, and the memories of those days when you are older are a gift you will hold onto for a lifetime.
But it is the final week of the regular season of the football season. And football seems to bring out the greatest range of emotions from the largest groups of people. It is played in football stadiums that are the cathedral of sports where a community comes out in the largest numbers and shares the experiences of its hometown football heroes on Friday nights throughout the fall.
But they can only share those experiences. It is you, seniors, who are living it. And enjoying it for the final time.
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Oh, how those fans in the stands that were once in your shoes wish they were you. They will be there, too. Maybe it is former teammates, just a year removed from being by your side on the field, but now cheering from the bleachers. It could be a teacher, a neighbor, a friend, all knowing what you will be feeling when the scoreboard strikes zero for your final game – be it Friday night, next week or in the state finals.
Or, maybe it’s your dad, who locks eyes with you through your facemask, hoping you see how proud he is of you.
They all are hoping to share the same message I have today.
Look around. Take it in. Appreciate the moment.
It will all be gone, oh so fast.
But the memory will be with you for a lifetime.
Contact Bill Broderick (269) 966-0678 or [email protected] . Follow him on Twitter @billbroderick