Last night my husband and I watched our son, now a freshman, march during his first football game with the Shelby Marching Tigers band. Our daughter was there too; not being interested in football (yet), she read her book. And the band was great. Really, especially for it being their first performance of the year on the field. They did what my husband and son both refer to as “park and blow,” when the band marches onto the field, but then stands in formation and plays, instead of doing an actual show. Weird term, I know, but dating back at least as far as when my hubby played trumpet (which is what our son and daughter play) in high school.
But it wasn’t the marching band last night that was so striking for me (don’t tell my son that). It was the fact that though our football team was outgunned and outclassed at every maneuver, they never gave up. And that’s remarkable, given that these boys are probably between the ages of 16-18 years old, and they lost every single game last season. Let me say that again: every single game. On top of that, they only won two games the year before. The Shelby Tigers were a force to be reckoned with three or four years ago, but then, as it happens to every good team, the seniors kept graduating, and Shelby lost the boys who had made it the team to beat.
Last night, in the face of being down some forty points to zero, I watched and listened as the Shelby coach gathered his boys into a huddle, and told them to never give up. To dig deep and find the heart that he knew they all had. To play the best they could. And after that speech, those boys went out and scored a touch down. It was beautiful. It really was. And the celebration on both the field and in the stands was amazing. Because you see, our team is little compared to a lot of the other conference teams. I don’t mean in height – some of the boys are over six feet. There’s just not a lot of them. But they do the best they can. They dig deep, and they don’t quit. And that’s something to both admire and respect.
I know football isn’t for everyone. Getting excited about a small town team making one TD, and getting a one point conversion, wouldn’t wow everyone. But it wowed me last night, because the Shelby Tigers varsity football team made do with what they had, and they deserved that touch down and conversion. And the greatest thing? They did it with heart.