Felic (older sis – awesome blog) became a sports fan in junior high, I think. Mom says it’s because she wanted to have something to talk about with the boys. Felic adds that Sports Illustrated sold her on it with all the human interest stories wrapped in jerseys and sweat socks. She eased me into it – pointing out the cute boys, replaying heroics from college basketball, and choosing Hoosiers every time she had the movie pick. The rest of us siblings kinda griped when she chose it. Then we’d inevitably end up in a ball of tears, conceding it was the best movie ever. Still, I pretty much went along to high school games back then just to see the boys, learning to hate the third quarter of the girls’ games when they all left the stands to dress out.
After high school, my ranking on the sports-fan-o-meter was somewhere between fair-weather and the-sound-of-sneakers-on-wood-is-lovely-to-nap-to.
Lately, though, thanks to entering The Yearbook Years with my own kids, I’ve fallen completely over the edge. A caveat, it pretty much has to be small-town for me to swoon. Wherever my kids are playing and the local high schools: that’s my thing. My current sports crush is the LaPlata Bulldogs, a lonely-bench sized high school team a few miles away. These guys are the hoosiers, I’m telling you. They’re handsome, hard-working, clean-cut (not a shaggy head on the team), and good. Their coach, an old high school friend of my dad’s, is tough as nails – kinda like the Hoosiers coach without the “I love you guys” at the end, making these boys’ dedication even more impressive.
When I played basketball in seventh grade, we were still taught to do that thing where you raise your hand when you foul. I kinda miss that. And nobody does it anymore – not even my bulldogs – but they remind me of that.
When I watch these guys play, I’m not happy because I’m nostalgic for my own high school days. I’m not happy because I’m picturing my own boys at that age. I’m happy because I’m there. It’s one of the most in-the-moment things I have in life right now.
And then there’s this… One of the Bulldog dads is my own son’s coach on a little, lonely-bench fifth-and-sixth-grade traveling team. They’re handsome, hard-working, clean-cut, and good. And the last time I went to watch them play, the whole team gathered around me on the bleachers. And their faces were so bright and so proud, it would have been enough. Then they handed me a frame. It had the two pictures in it that you see in this post. And it said, “Team Serenity Fight Like a Girl Play Like a Boy!” Their signatures and notes were scrawled across a card that said, “Life is like the game of basketball, it can’t be played alone.”
Consider me undone. Consider me a fan. For life.