They started baseball at the age where kids are hitting off a tee, and when you tell them to run home....they run to their mom.
The started basketball before they could tie their shoes.
They've played hockey and did some swimming.
Shortly after they both learned to ride their bikes, I took them on bike rides. At very young ages, we were going on up to 10 mile bike rides, stopping to play at the park or buy icees.
They've even run races. The races they don't want to run; well, they never hesitate to come out and cheer me on.
Then came football.
Sometimes it was hard to watch as Googs would sprint across the field (linebacker) and de-cleat some guy 80lbs heavier. Or when he played Center, I'd hold my breath as the refs would pull the guys off the pile, only to see Googs be at the bottom of the pile.
When Jman started playing, coaches started realizing very quickly that he had speed. "Good", I thought to myself, "No more bottom of the piles. He just has to outrun EVERYONE."
As Jman would run 50-60-70-80 yard touchdowns, I was the mom running downfield with him step for step....often to many bewildering looks.
Through all those years, Mike coached the boys. I cheered and did the mom stuff--bringing water enough for a team, cleaning cuts, wrapping limbs and.....the hard stuff......
trying to decide when an injury was ok to play with and when they needed to back off. As a mom with a Masters degree in Exercise Science.....I guess they were lucky and not so lucky.
For years, my role was somewhere between Protection and Encouragement. When they were tired, I was talking to them on the sidelines saying things like "This is where you dig deep. Sports don't build character. They reveal it. Show everyone here what kind of character you have."
If there was a sports cliche, I used it.
Then, they got older. Last year during a playoff basketball game, Jman got hurt. I pulled him to the sidelines. We stretched and massaged. I sat there trying to decide what to do. We sat in silence. Finally, I turned to him and said, "Since you've been out of the game, the other team has outscored us 10-0. I will never tell you to play injured. Your team needs you like never before. Sometimes, you have to dig deep and......well....you need to HTFU."
Jman turned and looked at me with shock and a smile and said, "Did you just tell me to HTFU?"
He was quiet for a moment. Then, signaled to Coach that he was ready to go back in.
They won the game.
Sports has always been a part of our lives, so it's no surprise that sports would be played in high school.
Basketball, baseball.....and well, sigh.....football.
Contrary to what everyone thinks, I love football. I'm a die hard Broncos fan and bleed orange and blue. I can talk the talk and draw up plays that even shock Mr. Tea and the boys.
But Jman is going to high school now.
That means a hand-off.
There's a new sheriff in town, and he's the high school football coach.
No more cleaning cuts. No more wrapping cleats. No more running down the side lines at full speed. I can cheer, but will he even hear me way up in the stands?
So when I dropped him off for his last day of middle school. I felt the tears welling up. Jman looked at me and said, "Are you going to cry?"
"Probably but I'll wait until you leave the car."
As he turned to leave the car, he smiled at me and said, "You just need to HTFU."