I grew up sitting in the football stands on Friday nights. My dad was a high school administrator and former coach. We always went to the games. My mom loaded up my two sisters and me to sit up high in the stands and do our part as sideline cheerleaders.
I remember eating Spaghetti-os or some other quickly heated meal. I remember wearing the school colors and having perfect ponytails. I remember carrying my pom-poms and even sporting mums for my birthday games.
I don’t remember anything frenetic about the readying process. I’m sure my mom worked like crazy to get us all together and out the door. I mean, three girls. Three sets of ponytails or pigtails. Three outfits and three mouths to get fed.
Concession stands weren’t really an option for us – my dad was an educator after all and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. We had to be fed prior to kick off. Water bottles didn’t exist then, so I believe we would visit the water fountain. I don’t remember my mom trekking up and down the stands to take us to the bathroom, but I imagine it happened.
We also attended post-game parties at administrator’s homes each week. The kids were put in the back bedrooms after we grabbed snacks. We didn’t run around amongst the adults. I remember doing high kicks in the bathrooms with the mirrors that reflected my image multiple times. I was a member of the high school dance team in that moment.
Fast forward to my life now, as a wife of a high school football coach and the mom of three. I often think of how my mom managed to get us to games without my dad’s help.
I started going to games when my son was in elementary school. Fitting in his practices with getting to games was a challenge, but we made it. We tried to get to games on time to sing the school song. I tried to be in school colors. We ate at the concession stand. Candy and nachos count as a meal, right?
Then, we had twin girls. I ordered precious bloomers and dresses in the school colors. We even ordered mums for them for each homecoming game over the years.
My son played for my husband. Those days, whew. Not only did we need to get to games on time, we needed to go to send-off at the school (get in that hug before the game), watch warm up and be a part of the spirit line for when the boys ran out to the field. And, we stayed for the entire game win or lose. We would wait for the final singing of the school song at the end of the game, so the girls could hug their dad and I could congratulate or commiserate with my son. They would run off to the bus to get back to school and we would head out to the car to go home.
With my son a senior in college and my girls in fourth grade with their own activities and Friday night plans, I struggle with getting to games. We don’t know the kids cheering or playing; we don’t know the parents. I do have the coaches' wives and we do sit together in the stands; it’s just hard to get there on time.
My husband works in the booth during the games, so we try to see him before he goes up. Sometimes we make it, sometimes we don’t.
It’s strange because it is so much easier now. The girls dress themselves. They can brush and style their hair. They can grab their own snacks from the pantry. Why, then, does it seem so much more difficult?
I wonder what my girls will remember from their days attending football games. Will they remember the hurried rush to get there on time? Will they remember the fun?
The games are on the family calendar, as they are every year. Yes, we will get to the home games and may make the away games. With renewed enthusiasm and optimism for this season and because we love the energy and community at the games, we will do our best to support from the stands.
Maybe we need to break out the Spaghetti-os. Or call my mom.