Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What Football is Teaching George

I NEVER...and I mean NEVER thought George would get into football.  I am guilty of buying into all the stereotypes that have said my son is from Ethiopia so that means he should run or play soccer.  For the record, George CAN run.  And...he CAN play soccer.  But...neither of those sports have taught him what it means to be part of a team.

Before all the soccer lovers out there bash me for saying soccer is not a team sport - please just save your time and energy.  I have never enjoyed soccer and had my kids play soccer because that is what good moms do for their kids.  I watched Eleanor, Harry, George and Lincoln as they ran up and down a field - touching the ball with their feet maybe a dozen times - and have never become a fan of the sport.  I can appreciate it - but am not a fan.  Don't hate me.

What I LOVE is football!  I grew up with football all around me - dad coaching, brothers playing..and yes...I was even a pee-wee cheerleader!  I know - almost impossible to imagine!  That was before I picked up ball and realized how great it is to play and not just cheer.  OK  - don't hate me for that comment either.

(Disclaimer - I DO receive "hate" comments - and it usually has to do with "adopting dogs", but I am afraid my dislike of soccer and cheer leading might bring a whole new set of haters.)

Back to the point of this blog post!

George is experiencing a TEAM for the first time...and it is so, so good for him.  Like I said, I grew up around the game and often pride myself for being a pretty awesome color commentator for the NFL.  It is uncanny how I will say something to Joe after a play and within seconds, the color commentator is saying the exact same thing.  Hmmm - maybe a 3rd career change for me is in the future?

Anyway - man, I am distracted this morning!  George has definitely fallen into the whole USC/Clemson rivalry thing going on in Greenville.  If someone is a USC fan, he will shout, "Go Gamecocks!"  But...10 minutes later, if he sees a Clemson fan he will say, "I love Clemson!"  I think he just loves seeing everyone in their purple and orange (barf!) or their dark red (not sure what their official colors are).  All I know is I bleed scarlet and gray - so he comes by it naturally.  Because of the love of college football here, he has started watching a lot more football with us and has asked for a football for Christmas.  You can now often find him in the backyard punting his football - or running slot patterns as Joe throws him a pass.

We took a big leap and signed him up for rec football.  Full pads and helmets, 100% tackle football.  And man...it is INTENSE!  I have been an athlete all my life - and I had no idea how INTENSE football was.  I guess when I was around it as a child, I didn't realize what was really going on on the field.  I knew my brothers were both pretty talented at the sport and that my dad knew everything about every position and play, but I didn't realize how hard they worked.

I was not sure how George would react to this intensity - or to coaches yelling in his face to hustle - or to being hit and laid flat on his back.  So, I hit my knees.  I know God doesn't really care about football or outcomes to particular games - but I know he cares about George.  And so God blessed George!

George has the most amazing coach - and this coach encourages his players, he teaches them, he slaps them on the back - and yes - he expects a lot out of them.  Finally, someone has been brought into George's life who is going to expect him to behave - expect him to give 100% - expect him to think of others - and reinforce the things we are teaching him at home.  And at the end of every practice, they gather in a circle, on one knee and pray to God.

I love the south.

George may not be the biggest or the strongest and he certainly is years behind his team mates who have been playing for up to 4 years of this full padded tackle football - but he is pretty quick and he has good hands and we have some hope.  Three times a week, George is out there with a group of boys who do everything as a team...and three times a week he is being lifted up by a team mate or patted on the back by the guy who just cleaned his clock or high-fived by a coach after making a good catch.  And each practice finds him tired...and sore...and really, really happy.

Should be a fun fall.  I have been praying for health and physical safety as he runs around with much bigger boys all around him.  But I am also praying for the life lessons that George will learn from playing football.

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