Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Pride of Lions

It's week 7 of the 2013 high school football season at Victory Christian School. You pull on your blue and orange jersey. You strap your helmet on.

You walk out onto the field and see the stands. They're full of people. Most of them are here to see the 20 members of the Homecoming Court. But at least they're here.

You think about the hot summer workouts. Images from the last seven hard weeks of practice fill your mind. You remember spring football. You'd had second thoughts about playing this year after last year's winless season. But you couldn't imagine NOT playing football. Then, your coach tried to cancel the whole season. You shake your head at that thought. Oh ye of little faith. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Coach.

Of course, you can hardly blame him. Your school has only won 1 game this decade. It was a 2-point victory over Alabama School for the Deaf. But, a win's a win. In fact, VCS has had 10 losing seasons in 14 years of playing football. This season alone, you've been outscored 68-302. And, it could have been worse, if every team wanted to score as much as possible like Wellborn. Several of your friends had too much pride to stay on the team, too. You know they'll poke fun at you Monday in the halls after yet another loss. But you know you'll get the last laugh. You're out here. And they aren't.

You're grateful for the principal who stepped in a refused to let the coach forfeit the season. You are thankful that your new coach understands that it's important to you and your teammates that you get to be part of this.

You look across the field at the other squad. You see the smiles on their faces. You see their relaxed attitude. You're a little envious. What would it be like to win games? What would it be like to feel like you have a chance?

You look back at your teammates, and you can't help but smile, too. No, you're not going to win tonight. You're not even going to be close to winning. You probably aren't going to win another game this season. But you do get to play. You get to come out here under these lights with your brothers. You get to hear the faithful fans and the prettiest girls in school (the ones with the pom pons, of course) cheering for you. You get to feel the sting of sweat in your eyes. You smell the grass. You hear the band playing. And you know, there's nothing else quite like this. You wouldn't trade it. This is your school. These are your teammates. And, you had too much pride not to be a part of this.

There are numerous teams across the state with only a win or two to show for their efforts. But, it doesn't mean they have given any less effort. Those kids work just as hard, they love it just as much, as many of the top-ranked teams. You have to respect those kids.  It's a whole lot easier to drag yourself through a tough Tuesday practice when you think you have a fighting chance to win on Friday night. It's easy to get excited about possible region championships and playoff berths. But what about those kids who know they are playing their last game this Friday night? What about the teams that know they won't win? What motivates them? What keeps them from just giving up altogether?


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