It was all a blur

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It happened so fast didn’t it? First it’s August 2004 and the first day of pop warner practice, then you blink, and it’s Dec 2013 and the night of his final football banquet.

The banquet day itself was a double blur. Last minute flurries of emails and running out to buy supplies and charging camera batteries and collecting checks and responding to more changes in attendance (yes, even on the day of!).

The tables were set:

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The posters were on display:

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The seniors were seated at their places of honor

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The liaisons got up and thanked the players, coaches & parents for a great year:

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I passed on the coveted Falcon Parent Pep Rally Award bullhorn to our excellent social media volunteer (who I know will carry on the legacy since he has a junior & freshman in the program) I swear he’s firing off a tweet as he walks back to his table!

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The boys then thanked their moms – mine thanked me for making sure my first question to the doctors any time he was hurt was always “So, how soon can we get him cleared to play?”

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One by one they received their varsity letters – or, in #18’s case, his 2nd year bar to add to his letterman jacket – then they wrapped up with individual players awards as voted on by the entire team. Not something the coaches picked out, but something their peers chose to recognize them for their efforts.

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Introducing the 2013 Scout Team Player of the Year – #18:

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And that was that – a few more quick photos with my guy and my co-liaison who I now call a true friend:

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And the night was done.

Of course, I still have helmets in my garage. And a couple more checks to collect & then drop off to the foundation. And I need to find a place to hang the fabulous framed team photo signed by all the players for me. And then Sarah and I have to plan when we will go to the spa for a massage and facial since enough money was collected from the parents for us to go enjoy a day of pampering (sweet!). But…..for now…I will stare at his well earned award (we kept him healthy for a full season!!) and this photo of all these great kids and wipe away a few tears as I think back on the last 9 years, the last season, that last night and thank each and every one of them for allowing me to go on this tremendous ride with them.

 

 

Preview of Football dinner

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It’s late, I am only posting this to sort of meet the holidailies commitment – but – after a manic two weeks of preparation, the dinner was fabulous. I brought my good camera and handed it off to #18’s dad to take photos – some of them are good! But, this one is fomr my phone at the very start so it will have to do for today:

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Home stretch

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I feel like my whole life this last 10 days has been hyper focused on getting me to tomorrow. Tonight, 17 & I went shopping for shirt/tie/dress pants for him. I am happy to report that he is not afraid of color! Also happy to report that after he was set free to meet his dad for dinner, I found a new top for me to wear tomorrow night that will not clash with the colors he chose when we are photographed together 🙂
Mostly I’m happy to report that the jersey repairs are done. My last preparation task is to pick up a gold marker to write in the name of the next Parent Spirit Award recipient on the bullhorn.
Also happy that I had some time to snuggle with cats before bed:

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Shadow Box

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A preview of Wednesday night:

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One memory box for #18. He chose the photo in the corner. That’s the nameplate off his home jersey & his locker. The medal is to commemorate the Falcons winning the Beach Bowl last season. For those who were on the team both years, it means something even if they lost in the miserable fog this year.

Another task I never thought I’d do

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Tracing letters from jerseys to match the size and font style onto white paper (easier to do the tracing), then cutting out the white version and tracing THAT onto a colored paper that was the *closest* I could find to the jersey letter color. THEN taking the red letter cutout and gluing it onto the jersey to replace letters that fell off. You see, this year’s version of our white jerseys had some LOW quality lettering put on it. Some are just flopping down and can be ironed back into place, but some are completely GONE. And, we need those white jerseys to be placed in front of the seat of each senior on the main dais tables during the dinner.

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In other words, this just needs to look decent for photographs for a couple of hours, because after that, the name plates will be ripped of these jerseys to recycle the numbers for next year’s crop of players.

So, even though the color doesn’t match, it will do for what is needed. And the supplies were less than $5 so yeah, it’s going to HAVE to do!

Me, working with fabrics is a truly scary thing. Almost as scary as the idea of me running was three years ago 🙂

And so it ends….

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Hello coach it’s been four years since I last had the chance to play football with you on the sideline and unfortunately it appears as though my final football game will be this Friday. The game is gonna be at the place where we had some of the greatest battles in pop warner…Oceanside. I would love it if you could make it out to the game. I understand if you can not. I wouldn’t have made it this far without you as my pop warner coach.

Sincerely,
#55 Alex Nowacki

 

That was the email sent by #18 (formerly #55) to his Old Football Coach Woflie. Naturally, Wolfie showed up because he is just great like that. So he was there to console Alex when the game ended with a very lopsided 35-0 score. There were just too many superb athletes already committed to playing at the college level on that team. But, at the heart of it, he had fun. He took my advice and soaked it all up. The team stayed out on the field after to just be together.

He had a couple of cool moments with this long time opponents. A nice interaction during a time out with their #24 who is an excellent corner heading off to play at Stanford next year. He remembered Alex from the scrimmage. The banter was friendly and respectful. Later on, as they shook hands, #24 took a moment to console Alex who was visibly sad of course. Also, during the end of game handshake, the kid who Alex had chased down to tackle in Pop Warner – who later scored the winning touchdown in the mud game – stopped for a minute and looked more closely at Alex and said “HEY! Are you #55?!” Now, how cool is THAT to know that the memories run deep on both sides?

At the end of the night, after getting off the bus, he hopped the fence at his home field – THE home field he’s played on since he was 8 – and just stood out there in the dark letting all the memories drift by. What did he find there?

A left behind Pop Warner football. Of course 🙂

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Downing a punt

Downing a punt

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That's #18 flying in from the corner in an attempt to block the kick

That’s #18 flying in from the corner in an attempt to block the kick

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Here's his encounter with #24 who clearly sees his tears

Here’s his encounter with #24 who clearly sees his tears

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Yes, there IS crying in football. Especially in Oceanside for us.

Yes, there IS crying in football. Especially in Oceanside for us.

Our tight end with just the sweetest smile as he tries to console Alex

Our tight end with just the sweetest smile as he tries to console Alex

One of us was able to smile anyway!

One of us was able to smile anyway!

 

The Agony of Defeat

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27-0. It was a dark and foggy night most of the game. 1st quarter was scoreless, but then it got bad. 17 will tell you he had a terrible game. Certainly the football gods were not on our side. Nor were the referees. In yet another “uncovered” situation, even through the fog the opposing coach saw it unfold all the way on the opposite side of the field and *supposedly* stepped out onto the field to call time out before the ball was snapped. No one heard a whistle until the ball was leaving the quarterback’s hand – it landed in 17’s hands and he jogged untouched into the end zone thinking he had a touchdown. Nope! Sigh….downhill from there….I’ll just post pictures now. Still don’t want to relive any of it really.

Oh, and the Football God’s are still laughing at us. Final seedings in the open division mean we play Oceanside in the first round of the playoffs this week. At Oceanside. Long time readers might remember this location as the site of this epic game – https://treesflowersbirds.com/2007/09/22/there-is-crying-in-football/

I waxed poetic about Hollywood Sports Writers putting their story together that year. Well, guess what? The kid who scored the touchdown that beat his team that day in the rain? He’s the long snapper for the Varsity team. When we had the scrimmage at the beginning of the season with them I heard his name called, and I swear it gave me chills! Well, here we are. Back to the scene with a handfull of some of the same players on both sides.

Apparently it was a 6 year story arc – stay tuned!

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Foggy scene – trying to make a block – even that didn’t go well for him in this game.

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Lining up…

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Yeah, he caught it…

Unfortunately...

He’s heading in the end zone, but ..

The whistle blew and it didn't count...

The whistle blew, and it didn’t count…

 

Adding insult to injury, there was an onside kick that took a crazy bounce right in front of him which he couldn't get

Adding insult to injury, there was an onside kick that took a crazy bounce right in front of him which he couldn’t get.

At least he did tackle the guy.

At least he did tackle the guy.

 

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Sigh.....

Sigh…..