Thanksgiving Day means gratitude, family, and feeding our faces all day with obnoxious amounts of food. It means morning Turkey Trots, afternoon naps, evening lounging and laughing with those you love. For high school football players, practicing on Thanksgiving means you are still in it, still playing under the lights and still working towards the goal of a championship season. It means your time on the turf isn’t over and you have lived to see another game.
As the wife of a high school coach, and for the past seven years two high school football players, I love the game of football. It teaches respect, hard work, and toughness. It’s more than a game, it’s a life lesson in competition, courage, contribution, camaraderie, and commitment. Football builds character and many future leaders are born between the hash marks. It turns boys to men and it’s more than a team, it is a family. Players are not just teammates, they are brothers.
Because the players are family, it transcends to us and we—the parents—become family as well. Spending every Friday night together from August to (hopefully) December, creates a bond with other parents. We anxiously await the kickoff, root for each other’s kids, and celebrate the touchdowns together. The bond created is special and none tighter than that of the mom’s. It is the Motherhood of the Brotherhood.
Football moms are different. Our boys are tough, but we are tougher. We watch our little angels get hit, tackled, and dragged down in the mud and dirt, and then we cheer for them to get up, keep going and do it again. We hold our breath when they are slow to get up, say a silent prayer that they aren’t injured and comfort other moms in those same moments. We know the risks involved with the sport and, yet we also know the rewards are immeasurable.
Football moms do incredible amounts of laundry, fundraise, drive back and forth to practice all summer, and turn our cars into rolling locker rooms. We cook endless amounts of food, especially pasta and meat, to feed the never-ending appetite of our player and their friends. We buy knee braces and back plates, boil mouth guards and wash girdles that smell sweaty and disgusting. We talk about things like pancakes, horse collar, icing the kicker and “The Hail Mary”. We are superstitious and like to sit in the same spot week after week–never wanting to mess with the juju. We help make ice baths for sore muscles and nurse boo-boo’s. Football moms go above and beyond to support our players and the game they love.
Being a football mom allows us to be an integral part of our sons’ lives as they become young men. We get to hear their stories, laugh at funny moments, talk about the up-coming week, and watch them face pain and adversity. We get to be a part of their joy and share in their sadness. We get to hug them after every game, regardless of whether they win or lose. We get to walk them into adulthood and somehow it makes letting go a little easier.
Football touches lives and builds forever friendships, not just with the boys but with the families too. Together, we sweat in the sweltering heat of August or get drenched in the pouring rain of November. We prepare our boys for battle and ring our cowbells loudly, so they know we are proud of them. We tailgate, break bread together and wear team gear to show our unity. We watch our sons compete not only against their opponents but also against themselves, pushing themselves further than they ever believed they could go. We watch them dig deep, come together, and love their brothers. In turn, we love our Boys of Fall and the memories created cheering for them.
My favorite part of Friday Night Football happens 10 minutes before each game when moms (and a few dads) gather at the top of the bleachers, hold hands, and pray. It’s a tradition we have been doing for over 9 years. It feels special, almost sacred, especially considering we are a public school. We pause during the hustle and bustle of getting our seats ready to close our eyes, say a prayer, and connect with each other. The beautiful thing is that everyone is invited, and no one brings up religion or what church you attend. We are on the same team and we are all part of the family.
We pray for the health and safety of players on both teams, the strength and grit our boys will need, the wisdom and guidance for the coaches, and the fairness from the referees. We pray for our sons, their brothers, and the family they belong to on the turf. We end the prayer with an “Amen”, a cheer and collective hugs. There is tremendous support within our circle—strong parents raising strong men, part of a lifelong brotherhood that will transcend their entire lives. The faith we share within that circle connects us forever.
On this day of giving thanks, I’m so grateful for my fellow football moms. Over the years, I have met some of the most loving and supportive mothers and appreciate their gift of friendship. I treasure each of them and am blessed to call them “extended family”. I hold each of their sons deep in my heart and feel lucky to be a part of their lives. I am grateful for each football season and especially grateful for this season of my life. I am proud to be a card-carrying member of the Motherhood of the Brotherhood. I carry priceless memories of Friday nights under the lights, watching the Band of Brothers take the field to represent their school and community with heart, pride, and determination. As a parent, there is nothing better.