My husband and I live in a small, tight-knit farm community, and high school football is a key staple to what makes the little big town of Chowchilla, California great.
Just like in the movies, the whole town gets behind the team. Chowchilla Pride posters are plastered all over businesses and homes, the Varsity team is escorted by the police department, and you can find residents of all ages cheering from the stands.
So when I first began dating my husband, I gasped, “Wait, people go to the games for like…fun?!” I had recently moved from a large metropolitan city where I went to less than five football games my entire high school career…and I went to three different high schools.
I quickly realized that coaching was not just a casual pastime but rather, a huge part of my husband’s world which also meant welcoming the sport of football into mine.
Soon enough, I got my first full taste of a football season. And well, let’s just say I’ve come a long way since.
It was tough trying to understand that coaching and all it entailed included things like being away from home six days a week, Friday night dates were nonexistent and even my weekday mornings meant waking up alone because the team had conditioning.
Perhaps it’s the Offensive Coordinator mentality in him but my husband knew we had to draw up new plays. After all, we were on the same team and we wanted our relationship to win.
Thankfully, we did learn to navigate and conquer through those challenges.
Present day, we continue to make more adjustments that new seasons often bring.
However, there’s one thing that has always remained constant: my coach’s pre-game wave.
This tradition dates back to our very first season. Just as the kickoff timer is about to buzz, my coach will always turn from the sidelines, look for me in a sea of red and white memorabilia, smile, and wave.
For my husband, I can only assume it reassures him I made it safely to the game.
For me though, it’s the gentle reminder that of all the places I could be, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than under those Friday Night Lights.