The things you remember about the game may just be your team
By Joe Black | (email@example.com)
What do you remember most about your days as an athlete? I still remember details from football games played long ago. Like playing defensive tackle for part of a high school game against Cleveland after two more DT’s went down with injury. I had never even practiced the position. And, as I’ve mentioned here before, I remember tiny details of the game between Loudon and Maryville my senior year. Final score: 28-35.
But I remember the people and the shared experiences much more.
I remember running out Steekee Road with Mike Messamore for offseason training. With about every other person today logging marathons, I’m sure it was nothing. But it was tough for us. I don’t think it would have meant so much if I had been alone. Something about shared suffering.
I remember standing in a long line during football practice to get a thimble-sized cup of “Bike Aid,” what we had before Gatorade came along. Black, white, poor, not-so-poor. All the same. All just wanting to get a sip of something wet.
I can remember the ham and cheese sandwiches and the milk so cold you were surprised it wasn’t frozen. It was always waiting for us in the locker room after a game. We would sit around and talk and unwind over those cold treats.
I remember the meager weight room that we had. It seems like it was in a dungeon but I remember it fondly for it seemed to make us feel like real football players. It seems like yesterday that Arthur Bright and I were in there trying to outwork each other.
I remember the disappointment etched into the face of Coach Gary Dutton after that final Maryville game. He had coached most of those Maryville players in junior high.
I remember dressing up with my buddies for the football banquet that meant the absolute end of our high school football careers. I beat Mike Bivens out for the “smartest football player” award and we promised each other to remain friends for life (we haven’t, really).
I’ve mentioned this before but I overheard a conversation between my son and MHS football Coach Ricky Upton one time. They had played AAU basketball together whenever they were both 14 year-old eighth graders. I had been their coach.
We were pretty good that year and enjoyed a certain measure of success. What these two early 30-something’s remembered was not the victories or even the games. They remembered the times they shared off the court.
Going to the Rendezvous in Memphis for ribs after playing in a tournament. Driving all over creation with half the team in my family van and the other half in Bill Hammond’s red Suburban. They remembered that we let them listen to their music instead of ours.
I think that’s what we do — remember not so much the games but the people and the experiences. The friends we made. The laughter that we shared. That’s part of why those days are remembered so fondly. It is also an important time in the development of the adults were are to become.
So my suggestion for the day: Sign your kid up for a team and then step away. Let them enjoy those shared experiences. Let them build their own memories. If they are to get a college scholarship, the team and the coach and the system are less a factor than the gene pool and the love of the game.
The value of experiences gathered outside the scrutiny of parents should not be undervalued. Don’t deny your own kids those opportunities.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to him at (firstname.lastname@example.org)