kariskhaos


Bend Senior High Football: More Than a Game

My daughter Jessica is now a junior in high school, in eighth grade she was kicker for the junior high football team.  Now she kicks for the JV football team with hopes to be the Varsity kicker her senior year. She is 17-17 in extra points and has two touchdown saving tackles.  Her nick name given by the coach is “perfect”. She wrote the following essay for her writing 121 class is allowing me to share it with you.  I love that girl and am so proud of her choices.

Bend Senior High Football: More Than a Game

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The bus rolls to a stop in front of the dreary Marist High School in Eugene, Oregon. Behind the cracked and faded paint, worn away by the constant rain, stands a football field. The vibrant, lively green stands out against the white and black buildings, which happen to be the Marist High School colors. I gather my scattered items, displaced after the three-hour bus ride, and file off the bus with the rest of the team. Lacking clear direction, we congregate near the sidewalk, lost sheep without a shepard to guide us

“Boys, follow me.” Coach Brown’s voice reaches us through the fog. There is a rustle of air as all 30 boys, and the other Bend Senior High coaches, start to walk at the same time towards the voice. Silence settles over the players, just like the layer of mist as they march towards the locker room. Dressing and preparing for the game happens in a hurried manner, and when everyone is done, Coach Brown poses one question to the team. “Why do we play football?” Then, he promptly exits the locker room, clearly expecting us to follow in his wake.

As I stumble out, the rest of the team by my side, my mind is preoccupied with the question. I don’t notice the click of cleats on concrete, the mist which instantly soaks deep into the bones of every person, or the small crowd gathered on the rickety visitor bench. My mind is deep in thought, contemplating what my answer would be. For many people who don’t have first hand knowledge of playing football, the answer may be clear based on preconceived ideas about the sport. Football has earned a bad reputation from all different levels, starting at the pro level, and working all the way down through high school. Professional football is often associated with scandals, money, and hard hits. College football can give the appearance of dumb jocks who receive special treatment, for instance, lower standards to be accepted to the college. Collegiate players then receive full ride scholarships, and still complain about not being “paid”. High School Football is often seen as a popularity tool, a team of dumb boys, and a method of entertainment on Friday night. People with these preconceived notions may quickly be able to jump to a conclusion to answer the question, I however cannot. 

“We’ve prepared for this”…“This is our time”… “Hit hard, go hard”. I am brought back to reality by the snippets of conversation I hear. The words ring out, a call for greatness from each and every player. Like a pack of wolves, chasing their prey, the team sprints to the sidelines, ready to play. The mist picks up to a flat-out rain, leaving all on the field as wet as if they were in an actual shower. As we take the field for the first time that night, our crisp white jerseys, and white pants, contrasted with the glinting, gleaming blue helmets, shine bright despite the rain, our armor as we ride into battle. The whistle blows, and I, along with the rest of the team, start running towards the Marist football team, a carefully synchronized and practiced art of kickoff. My foot solidly connects with the ball, letting out a thwack as it sails in the air to the other team. Seemingly in slow motion, a white helmet of the Marist team scoops up the ball, and begins to return the kick. I watch in slow motion as the white helmets makes it past not just one, two, three guys, but the entire team. Suddenly, as if the slow motion clock was turned to fast forward, the white helmet is in front of me; I am the only thing standing between him and a touchdown. 

Now might be a convenient time to mention I am a girl, playing on a high school boy’s junior varsity football team. Like any of the boys would do, I solidly plant my feet, and take the hit. As I stand and dust myself off, my mind registers the roar of the crowd, so loud, one might believe we just won the world championship. The boys, also known as my teammates, stand stunned for a second or two, then proceed to attack me, jumping, hitting, and punching me, in other words, their way of celebrating. I look down at my once white jersey, which is now covered in mud so much so that one would never guess the jersey was originally white, and think to myself, “This is why I play football.” Forgetting what everyone else believes is the culture of football, I realize why I play. The determination, seen in the pre-game cheer, the will power to do what the other team cannot, the desire for greatness, kinship, and empowerment that one receives, this is why I play football.

A shrill whistle cuts across the field, signaling halftime. Soaking wet, and cold, yet totally excited from the first half results of the game, the boys and I stride into the locker room. As we sprawl out, draping ourselves across various benches and seats, Coach Brown walks up to some of the players talking and checking in with them. A few of the other coaches are talking to players, giving valuable advice, and others still are in a corner talking to each other. Brown walks by every player, sometimes commenting, giving a compliment, or just a touch on the shoulder. When done with this, Brown once again poses the question, “Why do we play football?” I glance around the room, and every single eye is on him. No one talks, whispers, or moves. He has captured our attention. In this moment, I see Coach Brown in a new light, no longer Coach Brown, but Father Brown. He is a dad to each and every player in the Bend High football program. He talks, comforts, teaches, helps, and also poses the difficult questions. Continuing with this thinking, the boys on the team are all brothers, they sweat together, change together, win together, lose together. The other coaches are uncles, providing good tidbits of information, and supporting the role of Father Brown in raising us into a proper football program. In the middle of this family analogy is me, the single sister. While I am off in space thinking about the question of why, and the new realization I just came to, Coach Brown has moved on, and is talking about the game. “We need to protect Jessie, she is our kicker, we need her, she should not have to save the touchdown with a tackle.” This plays right into the idea of me being the sister, protected by the brothers and dad. As Brown wraps up his halftime talk, and we once again prepare to take the field, I find another answer to the question of why. I play for family, the family I found in the team. 

As one pack, we storm the field, ready to play for 2 more quarters. The second half of the game rushes by, filled with pouring rain, clashing helmets, and the occasional touchdown on our part. The final whistle is blown, and the game is over. Tired, yet excited about the win, the boys and I pile onto the bus, dripping with rain water, and sweat from a job well done. As we sit on the bus, patiently preparing for the long drive home, Coach Brown comes on the bus, and says proudly, “I think you have figured out why we play football, for the feeling that each of you feel right now.” Despite the cold, wet, miserable temperature, I feel a warm glow deep inside my body. The feeling of hope, determination, tenacity, discipline, and self-empowerment provide this fire inside me. Football gives life light, warmth, meaning, in other words, football provides a reason to live. 

The bus slowly begins to pull away from the droopy, worn down buildings that make up Marist  high school. A boy on the team, leans over to me and says, “Feels pretty good, right?” I only nod my head, but in my mind, there is so much I want to say. I think about the culture, family and personal gain that comes from football, and believe that every person should have the opportunity to experience something like this. I turn my head back to the boy, and say, “Football really is more than just a game.”

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5 Comments so far
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Thank you for sharing Kari. This lovely gal certainly is following in her mother’s footsteps.

Comment by Bobandlyn2@aol.com

You must be proud! Both of you. She’s found a place (the game, her team, her coaches…all of it) she loves and you’ve supported her in doing so. What a great story. Thank you for sharing.

Comment by Tabatha Sturm Simmonds

Well done Jessie.

Comment by Bill Hunter

Have you also given thought to What do School Colors and Mascots Represent?

Comment by segmation

So long as you keep to these rules and make sure everyone else does the same, you are most certain to have an enjoyable time without a
lower chance of being injured. It also helps in the eviction of toxins from
the body. An acronym is a series of letters created using the first letter of each word.

Comment by แทรมโพลีน




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