Friday Night Lights (and Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday)

I watched the movie Friday Night Lights, and I watched every episode of the TV show.  There were definitely parts I couldn’t relate to, but I liked the idea of a community coming together because of a sport.  Not the parts where the coach’s house had rude signs in the front yard after a loss, or where the student athletes were yelled at for losing, but the coming together and supporting the kids, and cheering loudly.

Because the charter school my daughters attend is small, we have a Friday Night Lights feel with our sports (without all the extreme parts).  Husband and I have been to football and volleyball games, boys and girls basketball games, and this year we plan to go to the baseball games.  A lot of families come to the games, even if they don’t have a child playing or cheering, and it is amazing to see how the energy of the school community lights the kids up and gets them playing better.

We know kids on all the teams, and go to support them.  After the game most people wait for the teams to come back out to tell them they did a good job (even if they lost) and how great it was to watch them play.  Last week the girls lost the first division playoff game so their season ended, and it was a great game.  Both teams played well, and the team that beat us did have to work for it.  Little One’s best friend is on the team, and after she was done hugging and crying on Little One I gave her a hug and told her how proud I was of her, and how well she had played.  I got a big hug and a wavering smile for that.

The energy last Saturday night at the boys 2nd division playoff game was amazing.  We had a lot of people from the school community at the game, and all of us chanted, clapped and cheered the boys to victory.  It was an incredible experience being in the gym at that game, and I was really happy to be a part of it.

There is a lot of talk about how parents act out at kids sporting events, and I have seen my share of that.  But more often I have seen what I saw last week, a coming together to cheer the kids on and have a good time.  For the time the game is played everyone is there to support and cheer, and you can see the kids love it, and respond positively to it.  The louder our group was the better the boys played.  It was awesome!

I’m looking forward to the game tomorrow night, even if I probably won’t have a voice to yell with.  Husband can yell loud enough for both of us.  Win or lose (and of course I hope it is win) I get the privilege of being there watching a remarkable group of kids play a game they love.  Whatever night the lights are on, and for whatever sport, I’m happy to be a part of it.

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Wonderful Seniors (The Ones in High School)

This weekend Oldest One was honored as a senior athlete just before the Boys Varsity basketball game.  Because cheerleading runs through two seasons the honors and banquets come at the end of basketball season.  She was really excited about this, and so were we.

We weren’t sure we would make the basketball game because we had a competition with club cheer.  It turned out that the girls team pulled out (after we drove 45 minutes to the venue) because we had a sick flyer who couldn’t be there, two girls with broken fingers and the competition was running two hours behind before it even started.  So, although the team had been ready for competition, it worked out for us as we made the Girls Varsity basketball game too.

Before the Boys Varsity game started all the cheerleaders, Girls Varsity and Boys Varsity members lined up on the court.  Each senior athlete was given a candy bar/Hershey Kisses arrangement and two roses.  The honorees each wrote a letter that was read aloud thanking whoever they wanted, and saying what it meant to have been part of the team and school through the years.  Then the school said something about each senior.  It was such a great ceremony.

Oldest One was the first one honored, and she is the only senior cheerleader.  The very first people she thanked were Husband and I, which made us feel so much love for her.  Yes, all the kids thanked their parents, but not necessarily first, and she thanked us for all of our cheer support over the years.  One of the basketball players we often feed and who is at our house a lot also thanked us for our support, which was completely unexpected, and really touched us.

All of the seniors have been accepted to college, and most have a scholarship.  Oldest One has an academic scholarship that pays tuition for four years.  None of our state universities give cheerleading scholarships.  Some of the kids are going to be playing football at a community college on scholarship, which is so awesome considering this is the first high school graduating class for our small charter school.

It has been a privilege to watch these kids grow up, and to see where they are going on the next part of their adventures.  I once had a co-worker who told me her house had been the gathering place for kids when her children were in high school, and many of the kids had stayed in touch with her, and she had gone to graduations and weddings for them, and got to see their children.  I hope Husband and I will be that lucky; to get to continue to be a part of the lives of the kids who invade our house, make a lot of noise, eat everything not nailed down, and truly help to make our house a great home.