25 Sep
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Learning from the Center

Football. It’s all-consuming in our house in the fall. The boys play it, talk about it and watch it. After school is scheduled around when, where and who needs to be at what field with two boys playing tackle football and one playing flag football.

It’s our fault they’re passionate about the sport. We’re the ones who opened that door years ago. I was a newspaper sports reporter before I was a mom. Sports was what I watched, researched and wrote about. My favorite being football.

junior high football time playing a game

My love of the game spilled into parenting. We brought footballs into the house for our toddlers and dressed them in adorable jerseys and helmets. We lounged around Sunday afternoons with NFL games on the TV. It wasn’t surprising when our oldest was in kindergarten seven years ago, old enough to play flag football, that he was ecstatic to learn.

Football fever has only increased over the years. I secretly pray each year that this season would be the one the boys inexplicably decide running or swimming is a better option. I hope they’ll pick a sport that doesn’t require tackling other people on purpose. Each year football wins in a contest that nothing else can compete in for the top spot. It’s simply what they love.

football player at the line of scrimmage

Some of the best conversations I have with my teen are when we’re sitting side-by-side in the vehicle, not making eye contact, driving from point A to B and sometimes C and D. The important part is no eye contact. My teen is like a skittish wild animal at times. He’ll readily talk about any subject while he keeps me company from the passenger side. Too much eye contact or sudden movements shutdown conversations and have him running for cover.

Our oldest son plays center, his third year at the position. It’s taken him time to warm-up to that particular place on the field. He originally wanted something a bit more flashy where he might catch the ball, not hand it off. His childhood visions of diving into the end zone aren’t his adolescent reality.

boy playing quarterback in a flag football game

He’s made peace with the lack of fans cheering his name. He knows if people are calling his name, he’s probably flubbed a snap, and fans (his parents) are reminding him to take care of the ball. He does his part, getting the ball into the quarterback’s hands, and the team moves forward. If he fails to do his part, the team stays put or falls behind. This week he said he’s glad he’s center. It’s taught him the power in taking care of the seemingly little things, and not just on the field.

Not everyone can be a rock star, NFL running back, president or CEO. But we each have our part to play. We each have our position to keep families, classes, teams, organizations moving forward. There are days the act of moving forward is a monumental task, and other days when taking that next step turns into a sprint powered by wanting to move forward. Take it from the center, playing your part is not always glamorous, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.

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