Friday, October 28, 2016
We had such a good fall of football. It's always highly anticipated, as our boy just loves playing. But when the e-mail went out to parents in August that they were in need of more coaches, Cody put in his application and before we knew it, we were in charge of the whole team, and the season turned into a full family affair. We asked our friend and Jaden's best friend's dad to help as assistant coach, and it was another sports season of making memories together with some of our favorite families.
And it was our most successful football season yet. We had a good team this year - a team that finished the season 4-2 - but played really well in five out of the six games. They dropped their last game of the year in a heartbreaker that came down to the final seconds, but these kids all have a lot to be proud of. It was the most well-rounded and balanced team that Jaden's been a part of.
This year's team was made up of third and fourth graders and also was the smallest football team Jaden had played on, which gave everyone ample playing time and made practice nights a little more manageable for Cody and Shane. ;)
And speaking of manageable, I ended up being referred to throughout the season as the team's GM. ;) I tried to help my anti-email husband by keeping the team parents organized and updated through e-mail reminders, group text messages and frequent coordination of team snacks, team pictures and practice times. Like I said earlier, it was a full family affair, and I loved every minute of it. Even though it did keep us VERY busy. We had football obligations three nights a week, and it's been a little weird this week being home so much!
And our third grader? This is so his thing. And he does it well. Just look at this picture below taken after his first touchdown scored during the first drive of the first game of the season. And there was much more where that came from.
Jaden went on to score eight touchdowns in six games, as well as a couple of two point conversions, a touchdown pass while playing quarterback, a few interceptions - including a key interception in the end zone to stop the other team from scoring - as well as several big first downs, pass break ups and flag pulls. We're working on the basketball thing, but this football thing seems to come as natural as it could for an eight year old, and we just love watching him play. He plays best right now in the running back or receiver spots, and his speed continues to improve. I heard, "That kid is so fast!" murmured a number of times throughout the season. And yes he is - when there's an end zone in his sights. ;)
And it warms my heart that his best friend was usually the first one to meet him in the end zone after a score to celebrate with him. Watching these buddies grow together is making the moms very happy.
The other thing that we got told a lot was that Jaden needed to bring more fans to his games. ;) With our families all close, Jaden always had the loudest cheering section, and the excitement of it all has even rubbed off on Brandon - who was upset that he didn't decide to play this year and has already made Cody promise that he will coach his second grade team next year. :)
And then there was the surprise visit from Dustin again at one of our games. Dustin came to watch his Blessed Beginnings kiddos play a game last year and surprised them with another appearance this year. He is such a good guy, and Jaden is so lucky to have had Dustin in his life.
And the moments when this coach's wife would get a little nervous. When he would whip out his white board in the middle of the huddle to draw up a new play that had never been practiced before and wasn't at all part of the playbook - because he felt the situation called for it. It really is a mystery where Jaden got his fierce love of football. ;)
The last night of the season was a special one. The mom of two brothers on our team found out this fall that she is battling cancer. Emily and I arranged for the team to wear pink eye black stickers for the final game. Cody and Shane put them on the boys in the huddle right before the game started, and it added to the emotion of our final game of the year played very late under the lights.
And these final pictures on the field after the game was over both break my heart and make me so incredibly proud. When the game ended, Jaden lost complete control of his emotions and couldn't fight back the tears. He was upset that he wouldn't get to play again for several months, but he was more upset that his time with his teammates was over. He's already learned and understands at such a young age that it's not the wins and losses that matter most - but the memories and friendships you make along the way. His teammates begged him to be in some final pictures and he stopped crying just long enough to do so. As soon as we got in the van, the tears flowed for a good 30 minutes. His passion is deep and his heart is big. So very proud of him.
What an incredibly full fall and fun season. Already looking forward to next year!