The older I get, the more I like to look back on memories, both good and bad. Sports have been a part of my life as long as I can remember, both playing and observing. Below are some of the moments, both good and bad, that I remember most. Hope you enjoy.
- For me, there existed a special joy watching my siblings compete in sports. I was blessed with 4 siblings, each more athletic than me (it’s fine, I’m finally getting over it :)).
- Watching my sister run and my brothers play football was wonderful. Taylor had a nice long stride while she ran, and made some good friends on her team in middle school. For a church powderpuff team, she played defensive back and got an interception, and was easily the most athletic person on the field.
- Dillan dominated people bigger than him in pee-wee football, and whenever my dad’s team needed a score, we just gave Dillie the ball. Maybe the biggest play I remember is him dropping to safety on the last play and tackling the QB of the opposing team on an option play. Dad, who had grabbed Dillan’s facemask before the play and said “Don’t let him go around you”, gave an exclamatory fist pump as Dillan made the tackle. During one practice, kids didn’t want to go against a bigger player on the field during an Oklahoma drill. I told Dillan to run him over so that the other kiddos wouldn’t be so scared. He delivered. Dillan also ended up being the best basketball player in our family. The day he crossed me over and made me fall was the last time I played him one on one. And he was a foot shorter then. Good grief Charlie Brown.
- Kyle was a few years younger than Dillan, but more enthusiastic to tackle his older brother than anyone on the pee-wee team. In practice, Dillan would cut through a hole and get upfield, and a lone figure gleefully would knock him down. Brothers will be brothers. Kyle had a nasty stiff arm when he ran the ball, and loved contact. Football was a good outlet for him, and as a younger brother myself, there is a fun feeling when you can compete with kids who are older than you. Whether playing on the trampoline or in the backyard, Kyle always played with a ton of heart. It ain’t easy being the youngest.
- Sean wasn’t very good at sports. Just kidding. Supposedly his first word was “ball”, although that may just be urban legend. Sean is the closest to me in age, and his final year of high school was my first and my best. What a year for football for the Colorado Springs Christian School Lions. I was a manager, and Sean played WR/DB for the varsity. I watched him star every Friday night, and because of that year, high school football is still my favorite level of the sport. Sean was a walking highlight reel. A few kick returns for TD’s against Salida that had a fan on tape swearing at him (true story). A crack block on a St. Mary defender that brought out the medical team during the Holy War rivalry. Endless scrambling on punt returns, interceptions on overthrown balls. The football field was his canvas. Tabor College brought on long road-trips through the barren wasteland that is Kansas. Amanda, Sean’s wife, would hear people shout mismatch when WR’s would line up against Sean. Sean held his ground, getting offensive pass interference calls against taller WR’s. Concussions made him stop playing a year early, but I always loved watching him compete. Watch out for Mighty Mouse. Saturdays in our early 20’s meant pick up games of basketball at the CSCS gym. We would arrive early in the morning, both sleepy and dehydrated, but I wouldn’t trade those mornings for anything.
- My best organized sports highlight was getting blocked in the back after missing a tackle that resulted in a TD when I was in 8th grade. The play got called back. Endearing memory to be sure. I wasn’t fast, but I was also anxious and wasn’t wearing contacts yet so I couldn’t see. A coaches dream. I was also part of a 19 game losing streak in high school. Soccer players made fun of us. Sports can be fun, but they can also be miserable. I’m grateful my wife has helped me be more even keeled when it comes to how emotional I get when the Broncos lose badly. As someone on the opposite side of the spectrum, I feel some pity for young athletes who know nothing but success early in life. There is a documentary on Netflix, QB1, that follows young quarterbacks at the most competitive level in high school. I can’t imagine that kind of pressure. I’ve heard stories of kickers getting death threats, of homes being robbed, of fans stabbing each other in the parking lot. Now that I’m a parent, I can’t summon my sports rage as much. Why would you let a game affect you that way?
- Our dad was our link to sports. When God created men born in the 1960’s, He decided that if they were athletic, they would be athletic in all things, especially if that sport was associated with a bar, or just drinking beer. My dad has beaten me (and many others) in foosball, ping pong, golf, racquet-ball, horse, etc. He played soccer and wrestled in high school. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me he was good at golf, I’d have…….well it’s happened at least a few times. Maybe the coolest thing about my dad isn’t how he played himself, it was how encouraging he was to others who wanted to play. He didn’t neglect the loner who knew what time we would all show up to play basketball on Sunday afternoons, but invited him to play. One kid on our pee-wee team was dyslexic, so my dad drew the plays on the back of our center’s helmet. He prayed with me and Sean before our football games, and him and my mom would faithfully travel to see our games, even if we didn’t play (I should say when I didn’t play. Sean was good, so he didn’t have that issue as much). I remember when Dillan didn’t make the basketball team, my dad hugged him and told him he loved him. I remember him praying with me when I was discouraged and at my lowest moment after never getting into games in high school. When you become a parent, you realize the best thing you can do for your kids is be there, be present. As I said before, I loved watching my siblings play, and I loved playing all kinds of sports with my dad. But looking back, I think what I’ll remember most is the kindness he had for those who didn’t excel, for those whose parents made them play. Life was tough enough for some of those kids on his football team. I hear people mock the idea of participation trophies. I wish they could see how much it meant to the kids on all the teams my dad coached. Thanks pop, for making it more about love and fun and less about competition. Thanks for watching countless football, basketball, and baseball games with us, at stadiums or on T.V. And thanks for letting the little children come to you.
- Sports stick in my brain because I can tie them to other events in my life that are much more meaningful. It was awesome when the Broncos won the Super Bowl in the 2015-2016 season, but I’ll remember that year for more than that. 2016 was the year my daughter was born. It was the year I finally finished college. And I got to watch my favorite sports team win the Super Bowl with my wife. Sundays are still fun, and I still enjoy watching sports. But the memories of my family are what fills me with joy, and my hope is that as my kids grow older, they’ll appreciate those moments too, not for the wins and the losses, but for the company along for the ride.