by Maggie Modjeski, columnist
As I write this I don’t know the outcome of the Winona Winhawk semi-final football game. Whatever the outcome the season has been a win for us.
I don’t often write about our middle child. He’s the quiet one who goes with the flow; this is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that it seems he causes very little trouble; the curse is he causes very little trouble that we know of.
He plays football at Winona Senior High. The sport has always been a passion of his. Since his first day in Park and Rec flag football, this was his sport. I was hesitant about this at first, knowing the injury rates, and knowing how accident-prone our family tends to be. Put it this way: he got a concussion at recess by running into a pole that he somehow didn’t see. We still can’t figure out how it happened.
I shouldn’t be surprised that this was his sport of choice, from an early age he would tackle his older brother and show him no mercy when they fought. Many times we watched his brother run from him in fear, knowing what would happen if he caught him.
Now he’s in high school and plays for the Winhawks, and this season has been a fantastic journey, not just because of the wins but because of how our son has grown into a young man with discipline.
I recently watched and shared a TED Talk by former Canadian football player Angus Reed about the positives in high school football. Angus was a troubled young man in high school who was invited to play football. To start he basically just snapped the ball, but being a part of the team turned his life around.
Now, this isn’t unique to football. We have had great experiences with other teams in which our children participated, but the difference is the size of a football team and all the different opportunities and positions to play.
There isn’t a coach out there who hasn’t had an upset parent because of playing time; it’s just part of any game. Football is no different. This year my son could have sat on the sidelines the entire season and I still would have considered the season a success, not because of what happened on the field, but what happened off it.
The discipline: the laziest child in our house was up early, late, studied and put forth a focus I had never seen before in anything he had done. At the same time, he did use football as an excuse not do things — after all, you might get injured raking leaves.
The camaraderie, age and grade doesn’t seem to matter on this team. You need a ride? There’s a senior who will pick you up. It’s not to say there isn’t a hierarchy — there is — but it’s not some exclusive club. The team is just that — a team, no matter what level you play on. Too often teams are separated by JV or varsity, discouraging kids to want to play harder to excel. The camaraderie isn’t just about the boys, the parents make you feel like a part of the team as well. We’ve made some great new friends over the year that always makes newcomers feel welcome.
The coaches: they have a tough job, but they view each of those boys as family. They know what’s going on; they are happy to listen and talk about whatever they boys need. They communicate with parents, and apparently, according to one coach, our quiet guy talks — a lot.
The community: the stands are always packed, as students from other schools, alumni and more come together for the game. For some it’s a social event, for others it’s a love of the sport; either way it brings a community togethe, and that’s something the team knows and their coaches remind them of.
As the 2019 season draws to a close, all I can say is thank you to the coaches, players and parents for a great fall and great memories. I hope our son will continue to live by the motto “we over me” in everything he does.