clear eyes, full hearts…
…can’t lose. I couldn’t help it. But, truly, I do love the energy on a football field. These kids are intense, they’re out there to work, to achieve, to grow. They’re fierce and they want to look good for the camera. The coaches and I laugh as suddenly the form is tighter, the knees are higher and the sprints produce a greater ferocity. The boys want to look good and they’re moving as a team. The crude language subsides as they notice my presence. A lady on the field. One player wasn’t so quick to notice. A slip of the tongue, a punch in the arm from an elder teammate and now penalty sprints. For everybody. Win as a team, lose as a team. Later, an apology. Honestly I didn’t hear what he said, nor would I have been offended, but I was impressed with the apology. Even if he did call me “ma’am”. Wince.
I plant my feet and fire off a series of photos as the team runs toward me only splitting into two lines at the last minute to avoid collision. I’m encased in a fog of giants wafting the byproduct of a two-a-day schedule. Mobile locker room stampeding past me. This move didn’t yield the photo I wanted so I kept walking. From the end zone, to blocking drills, to the water station, to the trainer room I sauntered around tracking down features for our preseason promo section (click here for full Free Press coverage). I hit Essex, then Colchester and then Burlington on the first day of practice. It was rough to watch. These kids were sliding into practice after a possibly slovenly summer only to realize the pain, the lactic burn, that their coaches had planned for them. Kids were sick on the sidelines, pouting through the pain, and collapsing during crunches. The coaches were relentless but motivating. I wanted to run. I’d look ridiculous with these cameras (I’ve tried it, with the governor, and it wasn’t pretty) but I wanted to run. I waited until after work. My run sans-coach was far less inspirational.
Another football season is underway, kids. See you on Friday night.