Saturday, September 12, 2015

You go, Caroline!

I grew up in a big football house.  I was fortunate to play football for a great grade school program.  We won two championships in 4 seasons.  One season, we didn't get scored on all season.  I was privileged to play for one of the best high school programs in the nation.  After making the varsity roster as a sophomore, we won a state title.  While at the University of Kentucky, we went to two bowl games and had the #1 pick in the NFL draft while I was in school.  After I graduated, I went back to Trinity and coached 5 seasons.  We won 4 titles, and finished as high as #3 in the nation one year.  One of my favorite things to do growing up, was watching football with Dad.  It was just another way for us to bond. I was an average player at best, that had a few good highlights.  If I had to bet, I was a significantly better coach. I love football, its a major part of my life. Not in a lets tailgate, get drunk, and cry when our team loses. I loved the beauty of the sport.

I always envisioned that I would someday have that same relationship with my son.  I was looking forward to watching my boy play. Maybe, God willing,  one day coach him in the game that I loved.  Life is what happens when you make plans.

I went to my first youth football game tonight where football wasn't my focus.  I thought it was interesting that the Park Ridge team looks eerily like my grade school team.  I sat on the sidelines and focused more on goofing off with my girls, then the actual football on the field.  We weren't actually there for football at all.  We were there for the cheerleaders.  This is something I never planned on.  There was my Caroline, in a football jersey, cheering the team on the sidelines.  She is in the picture above.  Right corner, back to the picture, pony tail.

Caroline is the one I always worried about.  She has struggled to find something she likes.  She hated gymnastics.  I suspect it was because she was doing it in the shadow of her sister, who is like a Gabby Douglass protege.  She didn't like Irish dancing.  Soccer was more of a social event for her.  She would rather talk to the other team's players than actually play soccer.  Every time she was put into goal, my blood pressure would spike because I was so nervous for her. Dance was boring, etc.  Caroline really just doesn't like competition.  That is sort of hard for me to process. To Brooke's credit, she put her in Park Ridge cheer leading. Like always, I worried for Caroline.  I worried her Alopecia would strike.  I worried that she would be too nervous.  I worried that her team, many of whom are older than her, would not accept her.  I wasn't sure how it would go.

Then tonight happened. She did her sideline routines and halftime routines.  They threw her around (there are advantages to being the smallest), she kept time pretty well, and she wasn't worried about being on "stage".  She really did a great job. I had to contain myself from getting a little emotional.  It was a big moment for "Peaches" (the nickname her team gave her).

I never imagined that I would be the father of four girls.  I never thought that I would go to a football game and that the football would be an after thought. I never thought Id be in Chicago of all places.  Then life happens.  I looked up tonight to check on Caroline when I took the above picture.  I didn't even focus on the football going on in the background. In the end, that didn't bother me at all.  I loved the point of view that life had given me.