Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Football 2011

Henry surprised us all this past spring when he announced that he would be playing tackle football in the fall.

Since he was four, Henry has been playing soccer in the spring and fall. He is good at soccer and loves it, so I wasn't really sure what he would say when I told him he would have to skip soccer if he decided to play football. He hesitated only a moment, asked a few questions (along the lines of, "Can I still play on the same team in the spring if I skip the fall?") and made his decision.

I tried to talk him into trying out flag football, to no avail. He wanted to play tackle or nothing.

So we signed him up!

The first two weeks were evaluations/try-outs. The coaches had them run (and run, and run!), catch balls, exercise, do drills, etc...and they separated out the boys into two teams. The White team was mostly boys who have played in the past, and the older kids (4th graders). The Blue team was mostly the younger boys (3rd graders) and those who were new to the game.

Luckily, Henry was picked for Blue, which is coached by a friend of ours. Coach Michael works with Sam at Sky Ranch, goes to church with us, and his son Luke is a friend of Henry's. Sam told Michael he would be willing to help out if needed, and Michael made him an assistant coach.

The first few practices were helmet-only, to get the boys used to the feeling of running with the different balance and weight that it adds. After that they wore full pads and started learning to tackle. Those first few tackle practices were pretty intense and emotional (for Henry and his mom!). Henry and the other boys learned how to tackle properly to avoid injuries. Once they figured it out they gained quite a bit of confidence and lost some of their fear.
After that it was time to start learning positions, plays and strategy. Henry loved learning the plays and the code words they use to tell each other where they should be. He was put in the position of wide receiver...in the picture below, Henry is #82 (blue jersey, player farthest to the right).
Henry loved his first season of football! He was not the smallest player on the team, but he was close...most of the other boys were fourth graders. That left Henry on the sidelines quite a bit, but he definitely got lots of playing time. Henry was enthusiastic and one of the best encouragers on his team. We were so proud to see him paying attention, helping others up, telling his friends what a good job they had done, and generally promoting team unity.
Sam was a favorite among the parents. There was another assistant coach who was a bit harsh sometimes, and the other parents really appreciated that Sam never once yelled at the kids. Sam is a gentle, encouraging, inclusive coach. So fun to watch! Henry was so proud to have his dad out on the field with him. :)
The Blue team lost all their games...they actually scored 7 points in the second to last game, and they were so excited to have points on the board! At the end of the season when the other teams went into play-offs, we were done. So we invited the whole team (along with their parents and siblings) over to our house for an end-of-season football party. We cooked hot dogs, had chips, potato salad, soda and more dessert than we knew what to do with. The boys had so much fun! The parents mostly sat around visiting, and the boys played catch, climbed around in the tree forts and ran around the yard.
From left: Grayson, Nick, Caleb, Dylan, Coach Sam, Luke, Ethan, Henry, Alex, Blake, Coach Michael, Jordan, Seth, Christian, Braxton, Brody.

It was such a great season! I'm grateful to the Lord for keeping all the boys safe, helping them find joy despite the scoreboard, new friendships, and healthy bodies. Way to go, Henry! We are so proud of you for trying something new and learning that you love football! :)

1 comment:

Job38 said...

Hooray for learning something new and staying safe in the process. :) I know that boys playing football can be a challenge for a mom!
I think it's so cool that you had everyone over after the season was over. How fun for everyone. :)