Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I signed up to do Kate Messner's Teacher Writing Camp. Yesterday's prompt was to write about a place. I didn't get the job done yesterday, but decided to give it a try this morning. I'm in a weird kind of funk, realizing how close I am to the end of my football mom days. I have always loved, loved, loved spending time watching my boys practice, and as exhausting as two-a-days and early morning practices have always been, I will miss them…

It is the morning practices that I love most. That early, almost, blue gray kind of light, just before the sun comes over the horizon. The cool freshness in the air. Morning traffic on Colfax still light, so you can hear the birds, just starting to wake and the splash of water in the City Park Fountain across the street.

I let my boys out of the car, to join ten or fifteen other boys huddled by the gate, waiting to be let onto the practice field. Most of the boys, like mine, are not quite awake, and aside from an occasional fist bump, or hello grunt, there is little conversation. One or two more lively guys usually attempt a little horseplay, a slap on the butt, a yank of the backpack, a sucker kiss to the cheek, but they are quickly shut down by "Stop foo…" or a cuss word, or an occasional slap from their more sullen peers.

Eventually, a coach will come and unlock the gate, or one of the more industrious fellas (often the aforementioned horseplayers) will squeeze through the eight inch crack between the two gates. The smaller guys- the tight ends with their long skinny, string bean bodies, the safeties, and the kickers usually go first, followed by the running backs, who are more muscular but still relatively small. Backpacks are crammed through the crack or heaved over the ten foot fence.  Last, if the coaches have not arrived, come the big guys- the offensive and defensive linemen. It is painful to watch 250 or 300 pounds squeeze through an eight inch crack, and there are usually moans and groans.

The sky is a little lighter as the boys amble down toward the benches alongside the practice field. There are no assigned seats, per se, and yet these early morning practices are as predictable as church on Sunday mornings. Son #2, the starting quarterback, takes his seat at the far north end of the bench. Two or three first string receivers sit next to him, then the running backs. The second red bench, a little farther south, groans under the weight of five or six linemen. The second stringers and younger kids sit between the benches, or on the south end, methodically lacing their cleats. And still there is not much conversation.

Then the skree, skree, skree of a shrill whistle breaks the silence. There is Coach Mac's predictable proclamation "It's a great day to be an Angel!" The boys jump up, almost as one, and fall into a steady rhythm on the track. Son #1, accompanied by the other speedster running backs leading the pack. Son #2, much less joyful, but still at the front, pushing to be one of the first five, who will lead the rest of the squad in calisthenics.

And the moms settle in for two hours, sometimes reclining seats for a little more sleep, or with books, or newspaper, and coffee. I lace up my tennis shoes and head out for my own walk around City Park.


Linda B said...

Carol, I got a little teary over this. The boys going into practice so willingly just as they go off to their lives. Your words of them squeezing through the crack, so ready, the traffic quiet, just those park sounds. I loved every bit. One falls into a rhythm, then change happens--argh! It's good but so hard. Thanks.

Cathy said...

Your writing is beautiful. I always enjoy my stops here. Your words flow effortlessly from the page. Your description is so vivid I feel I am right there with you holding my cup of coffee and my book to pass the time.

I am so happy it is summer so I can stop by more often. Thanks for the reminder about writing camp. I am off to check it out.


Mary Lee said...

You took me right there with you.

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

What Mary Lee said...and I felt not only what yu were experincing on the outside, but what was in your heart, too. Beautiful!