My Dad loved sports. He played high school football and was a walk on player for Texas A&M back in the Forties. Like his father before him, he was also a boxer. In his teaching career, he coached football and track. You should know that Dad was only 5’8". He probably only weighed about 160 – 170 at his heaviest. He was one tough guy. Dad felt sports were important to the development of a young person’s mind. He believed with the right coaching anyone could do anything. He loved working with young people, and he gave many a sense of accomplishment with his personal coaching. He loved going to all high school sports events, but football was his love. He kept up with all of the players. He loved seeing his old students at the games and keeping up with their lives.
Both my brothers were amazing athletes. They could play any sport from football to tennis and play it well. Unlike me, they were incredibly fast. I can remember Dad working with my older brother in the back yard teaching him the finer points of football setting up an old tire in a tree to throw the ball at. He also made hurdles for Craig to practice track. In high school, neither brother was any bigger than Dad had been, and sports had changed. Coaches were only interested in guys who were large. Wichita Falls High School had a football team that had been to the state play-offs. They played teams like Odessa Permian. The coaches were not interested in my brothers. The older brother gave up sports for the debate team. He did stay on the track team. The younger brother opted for other sports like soccer and tennis where size was not so important. At first, it was hard on my dad who thought every young man should play football, but Dad had other students to mentor. I think Dad came to understand that just because you wanted to play football and be on the team didn’t make it so. Times had changed.
This morning I got an email from my little brother who has three sons of his own. Once again, his sons are incredible athletes, but not very big. They play baseball, tennis, soccer and basketball (basketball will not last long due to their height). Soccer is the big sport for each boy. Like their dad, they are fast and agile. Last year, Oliver’s high school soccer team made it to the state play-off game (lost). In the email, my brother informed me that the football coach for Rider High School came to Oliver and asked him to be the kick-off man for the football team. Oliver has practiced this week and will be kicking off Friday night’s game against Stephenville. Go Oliver!
Dad loved going to see his grandson’s play sports, but soccer was not his game. He would go to the games, but he just did not "get" soccer. The truth is, I think my brothers felt they had lost a connection with Dad when they quit football. I know my younger brother was hurt by Dad’s lack of interest in soccer. I know my older brother felt like he had let Dad down. Who knows the depth of feelings between fathers and sons? I know Dad would have absolutely loved seeing Oliver play football. He would have been at that game Friday night come hell or high water. One of his grandsons is playing football on a varsity team, and Dad will not be there. How ironic!