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From Son Up to Son Down: A Middle School Football Game-Day Diary

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The big day finally has arrived! Who is ready for some Tuesday night football? After a summer of workouts, drills, and tournaments, it is finally time for my son to use all the skills he has learned on the football field.

After 8 years of playing against the other neighborhood school teams, the 7th grade is finally together as one team. The first game is a big one. The schedule has 7th grade as the away team, so it comes with the added bonus of traveling on a bus with 100 + of your favorite 12- and 13-year-old boys. Just bless the coaches right now!

So here is the game-day journal of just another football mom, navigating her way through the waters of 7th grade football!

Just another panic Monday

Selecting his game day outfit: long khaki pants, white button-down shirt, TIE, belt and dress shoes. I have to be honest, I have not seen him so dressed up since Confirmation Graduation last May.

We hold a dress rehearsal. Shirt is wrinkled, and sleeves are too short. Pants are so long they are almost at flood warning level.  Tie is good, belt is good, but dress shoes are frighteningly snug. (How much did we spend in May for all of this?) Ironing the shirt while watching Monday Night Football. Wondering if Mrs. R. G. II was doing the same thing today.

7th grade football player with backpack

The tie! What is a young man to do? Dad is on a business trip! How does this odd string of silk material noose around his neck? No worries. I can tie a tie!  Again, I amaze my son with mom skills and knowledge. As I twist and turn the silk into a nice knot, I remind him that my grandparents owned a funeral home and this was an old trick! I thought it was a humorous aside. Crickets. Lights out. The tie would not have even given Olivia Manning a blink of the eye. The greatest football mom EVER, would have had lots of practice with 3 football sons and a NFL husband.

If it's Tuesday ...

5:30 a.m. Alarm goes off! Lunch packed? Check. Extra snack with good luck note? Check. All equipment is accounted for and we are rolling out the door at 6:00 a.m.

2:30p.m. I get the call. PLEASE come and get my backpack, he says. Apparently multi-tasking is an option. My player has decided NOT to do homework on bus (actually he says it has all been done in homeroom. We will see. We will see!)

I arrive to a sea of boys on the track, in the locker room, and spilling into the parking lot. Somehow I find my son and he leads me to the bowels of the locker room. I go just so far - the smell stops me in my tracks. How many types of Axe deodorant are there anyway? Dirty towels as stiff as cardboard litter the hallway. No, I do not want to go any farther. I await the 50-pound backpack of forgotten schoolwork.

7th grade football players hanging outI watch 3 buses pull away from the school with players and gear. Again, I say a silent blessing for the coaches. I am sure Mrs. Harbough, mom to coaches John and Jim, still shares a tip or two on how to keep the guys calm and in line on those bus trips.

The trek begins.

5:30 p.m. I am getting nervous. The away game is literally 75 miles away. Am I going to be late? My baby boy is almost in Oklahoma. His game is supposed to start at 7:00 p.m. I start my drive through the great state of Texas. My husband calls and feels I should have left an hour earlier. This makes me even more nervous. So, I head off in the great swarm of concrete spaghetti with at least a million other people. We all seem to be driving in the same direction.

I begin to feel a bit lost. Not in direction, but it is odd driving solo to my son's game without him and husband with me. The radio is playing our favorite "Fire Up" songs, but it is just not fun firing up with out them. I keep driving and driving. I begin to lose the radio station and pick up an Oklahoma station. At least I know I am close. I think about all the college and pro moms who must travel far to see their sons play at that next level. Hope it comes with Advantage Miles!

7:35 p.m.

Kick off starts at a prompt 7:35 p.m. I sit in the stands with new and old friends. Parents are also trying to come together as one and forget those competitive days of Pre-K soccer and elementary school basketball. It has cooled down to a manageable 90 degrees by game time, the lights come on at the stadium and it is show time!

The game is tremendous. My son's team wins and he has a great game. That is beside the point. It is great to see and feel spirit and camaraderie on the field and in the stands. It is going to be a great season, a great year with the promise of many more.

Post-game festivities

No one from our team wants to leave the stands. We are the away team and are still chatting despite the hour getting late. The stadium lights are finally turned off on us. The prerogative of the home team or are they just sore losers?

I drove my son home. Yes, you know it. First thing he asks is whether I have something for him to eat. No, I  did not think about that. Did I have a drink? No, I did not think about that either. We drove out on the lonely and dark Texas prairie in search of ye olde Sonic, or closest fast food. Seems I need to evaluate my game day film, too. Next week, I will know. I bet Ray Lewis' mom always had snacks ready for the post-game interviews.

Gretchen Rose and son after first 7th grade football gameWe finally get home about 10:30 p.m. Dad is home from his trip and the game hilights are told and re-told.

11:45p.m. LIGHTS OUT! I take my son's Wednesday-after-game-day shirt out of its package and get it ready to go with the abandoned backpack of schoolwork. He did do it all, right? I rescue the Confirmation tie wadded up at the bottom of his equipment bag. Finally, I say it is time to go to bed. I really do not want the day to end either, but it is part of my job description as team mom. We have all just survived our first official on-the-record football game.

Long days, short season

Wednesday 5:30 a.m. 

The alarm clock goes off. Time to start the new week. (football week, that is!) I do not know if the next game day will be as memorable as this one, or as long as this one, but I sure hope it is just as much fun!

I remind myself that the days are sometimes long, but the season is short!