When one of the Team Moms came around at my son’s football game last weekend selling buttons with the kids’ pictures on them, I excitedly grabbed a few bucks to buy two (one for me, one for the proud grandparents).
My son looks so handsome in his picture! But what also strikes me is how I almost didn’t recognize him – he is never this serious. He told me, though, “They said no smiles, Mom!”
This is my son’s first year in football, and I’ve heard the same thing from several friends and family members: “I never would have pictured Isaac playing football.” That’s probably because although he’s 5’11” and 180 pounds (at just 12 years old, mind you), he’s just a big, goofy, sweetheart of a boy. My friend joked that she could just imagine him on the defensive line, saying to the player opposite him “Once the whistle blows, I’m going to try to knock you down. Is that alright with you?”
My son is a giggler, opens door for people, loves babysitting little kids. He’s also NOT known for having a very high threshold for pain. Basically, he’s not particularly “tough,” or not the kind of tough you might picture playing football, anyway.
Which is not to say that all boys who play football are mean and rugged and macho. But maybe you get the idea.
But aside from a season or two of recreational soccer when he was much younger, Isaac hasn’t been involved in any sport, and we knew he could use something to keep him busy, keep him in shape, and give him an opportunity to connect with friends. As the sports saying goes, “You can’t teach size,” and we figured Isaac’s large stature would help him in something like football, while the coaches would be the ones to teach him strategy.
A month into the season now, things are going well. His size definitely is a benefit to his team, and we’ve heard feedback that he very smart and very coachable.
We’ve learned how to put on a game jersey over pads (NOT EASY!), how to best brave the elements in the stands, and my son has learned how to shake off multiple bruises and getting knocked around a bit.
Most importantly, though, we’ve learned what a valuable asset being a “nice boy” can be to a football team. Isaac is an intensely loyal young man, and forming the bond he has with the kids on his team has made him determined to do whatever he can for them. It’s helped him to brush off any pain and look past any discomfort so he can get back up and help his team. He’s often the one cheering the loudest from the sidelines or the first to offer a hand to help a player up from the field. His “nice boy” personality still shows – all over that football field – and what is so fascinating is how it has made him “tougher” in the long-run. It’s nice to know he doesn’t have to be one or the other, but can still be himself while he becomes something even better.