Today, our son played a football game. It’s wasn’t just any football game. It was a playoff game. A college playoff game. His senior year college playoff game. This was a huge game with so much on the line.
Grant started his football career at the age of nine and was in the third grade. All of his friends were playing tackle football and he wanted in on the action. Jon and I were thrilled to join in on this adventure, but nothing could prepare us for what was ahead.
Every Saturday we packed up the car with chairs, ice chests and donned our team jerseys and hats. We lived in Arizona at the time, so the average temperature was at least 100 degrees. We cheered loudly, made new friends, and watched our little boys run over team after team. They were unstoppable. Grant and his teammates took home two state championships over six seasons.
Youth football is not for the weak or faint of heart. Grant once sat in an ant pile during practice and never said a word because he was afraid to tell the coach. He came home with bruises, skinned knees and bloody elbows. Some nights, he would come home with tears in his eyes because practice was so intense. We continued to ask him if he still wanted to play. The answer was always a resounding yes! These boys were learning about perseverance, working through adversity, team building, and so much more.
During his freshmen year of high school, he suffered a serious knee injury and his season ended early. It was challenging for him to stand on the sidelines and watch his fellow teammates out on the field playing the game he had come to love. He worked hard during the off season to become stronger and better than he was before. Not only did he become a two way starter on the varsity team the following year, he walked away with numerous weight lifting awards and recognitions. It was at this point I began to really understand the impact the game of football was having on my son.
His high school years continued to be filled with big plays, exciting games and yes, more injuries. He suffered concussions, required stitches in various parts of his body, and of course the every day bumps and bruises. ( For me personally, my prayer life became much more intentional during this time!) He worked through it all and never let it deter him from playing the game. We began to witness he and his teammates becoming closer and closer. They weren’t just players on a team. They were brothers. They challenged one another on and off the field. If one player was down, they lifted him up. If one player was celebrating, they all celebrated. The football team literally became our extended family. Again, with each passing season we watched Grant grow, mature, lead and continue to make an impact on and off the field.
All of his hard work in high school began to pay off when he was recruited by a Division II school in Colorado. It wasn’t just any school. It was one of the toughest engineering schools in the country. Honestly, I’m not sure he really wanted to major in engineering, but he was great at math and science, and he could continue playing football. Again, we watched Grant excel on and off the field. This school was a perfect fit for him. Over the years, it became evident that Grant enjoyed a challenge. He thrives in a competitive environment and this school definitely challenged him in all areas. Just as he had in his youth football days and high school years, he suffered serious injuries and setbacks. However, he learned to overcome any obstacle in his way and was elected a captain his senior year.
For the past fourteen years, he has marched across the football field, making plays, building friendships, developing leadership skills, and creating a lifetime of memories. Today, we approached the end zone! The final game. It did not end as we had hoped, but his journey will continue and we know that all the years of hard work, blood, sweat and tears have made him the young man he is today. It’s been a blessing to share this game with our friends and family and we are eternally grateful for this fabulous game of football!
“Your talent determines what you can do. Your motivation determines how much you are willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it.” ~ Lou Holtz