Last Friday night ended a journey that started when my son Hunter was just a young boy. He played in his final organized football game. It was a bittersweet night as the rain poured down and the team lost 19-14. Hunter was able to get a touchdown on the night, his fourth this season.
After the game I lied awake replaying the past years and thinking about my son’s experience with football. I wrote down several thoughts about his life and asked my wife what she thought. She told me that it is my blog and if I want to praise my son, then go ahead.
So here are some reasons why I am proud of my son and his football experience.
1. Coachable. In all of his years of football he has only had the same coach 2 years in a row. That was the past two years. Every other year his coach has changed. While he, and especially me, did not always agree with them. He always did as told.
2. Good Teammate. I have never seen him yell at a teammate. He has never been angry at the failures of his team. He has been disappointed, but usually he tried to help others get better than point out their flaws.
3. Good Sportsmanship. He has never received a penalty for a personal foul (expect for maybe one facemask penalty.) No late hits. No shoving. No taunting. No celebrating.
4. Perseverance. Hunter’s 5th grade team was a champion. Then we moved. For several years we barely won a game. He stayed with it. In four years of starting varsity he never missed a game.
5. Brotherly Love. My wife and I’s favorite part of every game is watching our children interact on the sideline. Each one of them always seeks out their brothers. They are brothers but also teammates and best friends.
6. Respect. Hunter always helps other players get up. He offers a helping hand and a kind word. I often saw him talking to the other team. I would ask later and he would say he was encouraging them or joking with them or offering advice.
7. Good Choices. Every one of his High School teams has been affected by the poor choices of some. His freshman year before the State Championship the all-star quarterback was kicked off the team for drinking. Even while he witnessed all that he never participated in it (at least not to my knowledge).
8. Blessed. In all the years as a player he had only had one injury. In 8th grade he broke his arm in the first or second practice. He did continue to practice with the team and stepped into the starting lineup in game 2. We feel very blessed by God with his safety.
9. Humility. Hunter might not tell you but he has started Varsity football since he was a freshman. Then his first two years in Alaska we have no record of anything he did. He just did it. Both of those years he was promised to play a tight end but because of team issues he ended up a lineman. As Monte Johnson will tell you that is the most disrespected position on the team. He was disappointed but kept playing. He was never named MVP of the team or even a team captain. While disappointed he still went out and did his best.
10. Christian Faith. Last but certainly not least. In 4 years as a starting varsity football player he missed one Sunday of Church. That time he was rained in on Kodiak Island. I know he wanted to sleep in but he didn’t. He not only attended but he ran sound, PowerPoint and lead singing.
I will admit that early Saturday morning at about 4:00 am I sat on my couch and cried. I will miss seeing big #42 on the field each week. With that said, I am extremely excited that he is planning on going to a Christian University to further his education in sports management. I am proud that he had a great run as a football player but I am more proud that his life is built on more than football.