Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sportin' Life

'Tis the season for t-shirts and jerseys, hoodies and jackets, pennants and stickers on rear windows. The appropriate costume for the season is not a scary mask or a witch's hat: it's the logo of your favorite team. And what a wealth of choices!
The Cardinals and Royals will be the Boys of October once again this year. The long summer of daily baseball is over and the nerve wracking process of sweating through the playoffs begins. I am a pathetic fan in October, sometimes glued to every pitch, sometimes isolating myself from every device that might deliver bad news. This is the 'thrill of victory and agony of defeat' part of being a fan that I wish I could lose.

I spent the last two weekends in airports, the ultimate melting pot of fan allegiance. The sports bars at Midway Airport were packed three deep around the flat screens; two different volleyball teams waited at baggage claim in two different airports. Fans of all stripes stared intently at muted electronic devices. The emotion was palpable....
Somewhat akin to that of the East Atchison Wolves Elementary volleyballers, third and fourth graders. This is Lizzie and Abbie's inaugural season in knee takes me back to watch the endless warmup drills and bouncing ponytails adorned with black and orange frippery. I love volleyball...I love the blocks at the net, the dives for slams, a ballet of pass, set, spike, the drama of a long volley. None of this is part and parcel of the game third and fourth graders play. Lizzie yearns to "hit the ball a different way" but her coach (her mom) makes it clear that passing and serving are the baby steps for girls too short to reach the top of the net. The bobbing ponytails are applauded every time a serve makes its target or the ball is hit three times in a row. A close contest makes Lizzie's feet go "all tingly". When they begin their match with the chant,"What do we love?.....volleyball!", I want to cheer too. Welcome, girls, to the sportin' life....
Fall is for football, from front yard scrambles through the fallen leaves to the tailgating cities that spring up like mushrooms just after daybreak every Saturday and Sunday .
Aaron is in his second year of full blown football, cleats and UnderArmour, coaches (dads) stalking the sidelines, fans in snarling Wolves regalia. The kids work hard, playing both sides of the ball in true small town fashion.
Gabe dons his flag football gear for the first time this year. He's just learning the game and saves his biggest grins for the rare opportunities to grab a flag.
The mood among the fans at these games is positive and upbeat. The bitterness of boobirds is reserved for guys that get paid to play. These kids build teamwork and sweat equity and loyalty: the sportin' life at its best.
Homecoming in East Atchison land was heartwarming, an amalgamation of the traditions of two communities with enthusiastic participation all around. While the sportin' life can showcase small town culture at its very worst....this team effort was its very best.
The "big boys" in their shorts and jerseys took on the elementary Wolves in a couple of quarters of flag football to the delight of a sideline full of cheering fans and a full complement of cheerleaders ages 5 and up.
There were thrilling runs and long passes, last minute tackles and general hilarity as the big boys and little boys entertained the crowd and each other. This commingling of young and younger, of older girls encouraging younger ones, of leading by example, builds the ties that will bind us as neighbors in years to come.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you have been having a great time making it to all the sporting events in the family and there are lots of years ahead of them! Thanks for linking up to the Country Fair Blog Party this month and we do hope you will join us again on the 1st.