My first football blog from 2013 was called, “Diary of a Rookie Football Mom.” Last year I wrote “Diary of a Year 2 Football Mom,” and this will be my final chapter. I loved every minute of being a football mom and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
In my first blog, I was pretty honest. I talked about how incredibly scared I was for Christian (my oldest son) to start playing youth football. How I cried at the first scrimmage because Coach Brad was yelling at Christian. Of course, I since learned that in the football world, there is no talking, only yelling. As one of the Goldback Youth Football coach es explained to me, “yelling at your son is a good sign, it means the coach is trying to make him better. When a coach doesn’t pay any attention to your kid, that’s when you should worry.” That’s just the way it is. If you can’t accept it, there are a lot of other sports out there.
In 2014, I wrote a blog before the Don Bosco Prep Freshman football season, saying I didn’t care how much playing time Christian got, I was just happy to be here. That was a partial lie. I actually did not personally care about how much time he got, but he cared very deeply, and therefore it did matter to me.
I am proud to say that my son started every single game of the Don Bosco Prep Freshman football 2014 season at wide receiver. Really proud. Because Don Bosco football, even on the Freshman team, is no joke. We are serious as a heart attack about the sport of football. These athletes worked their butts off all summer and every practice. And went to school and maintained good grades. In addition, Christian and a number of other players also commuted to school by train, leaving the house at 5:45 am, getting out of school by 1:50 pm, going straight to practice, and then taking a train home afterward, to sit in a tub full of ice while eating dinner and doing homework. Then lights out and up by 5:00 am. They don’t call them Ironmen for nothing.
Every football game is stressful for every parent. You do get used to seeing your kid hitting and getting hit, you even get used to him being at the bottom of the pile (true story, and I never would have believed it a few years ago). No parent will ever get used to seeing their son lying on the field for just a few moments too long. But that’s part of the sport.
Most everyone who has ever played, coached, or parented a high school football player will tell you that High school Football is absolutely glorious.
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that is what this country is all about. The tension that boils over into mad crazy wild cheering. The beauty of Autumn, the tailgating, the stands, the Field, the athleticism, the TOUCHDOWNS, the absolute oneness of purpose of all the athletes, coaches, and parents for 2 hours. And when your team is winning and your son is a part of that, it is beyond glorious, it is just Heavenly, like you are walking on air. Of course, the flipside of that is that when your team is losing and your son is a part of that, it is gloom and doom. But that’s team sports in general and high school football specifically.
So here’s my last down as a football mom, I will leave you with my very favorite football moment. And I may be factually incorrect in the way I am telling it but you will get the general idea. We were playing our arch arch super arch rival, Bergen Catholic. At Bergen. We were winning by a lot but my blood pressure was still through the roof and my heart was in my throat. We simply had to win this game. And most football parents truly believe they can WILL their team to win. And football parents at Catholic schools -- you can almost hear the other parents praying -- even though we are praying silently. We were up by a lot but then we were not. Bergen came back in a big way in the 4th quarter. We were stricken.
There was a big play and Christian was in it. So much tension, the stadium was a pressure cooker. Bergen Catholic was waving their giant (annoying) red and gold flags. They were starting to taste victory and we were starting to feel the jaws of defeat nipping at our heels. Two years ago I was afraid of wanting anything for my son. Now more than anything I wanted our team to beat Bergen and, if at all possible, l wanted my son to help his team. I watched Christian through my professional camera’s zoom lens. With all this incredible wild cheering and screaming and tension, I couldn’t believe he could take all this stress on his young slim shoulders. I saw him pointing up and down the field, as I had seen him do so many times in Goldback youth football. And, in that very moment, I was the most proud of him I had ever been and I stopped praying for a win and instead simply thanked God for this son of mine. He was willing to go out into a pressure cooker and take on the possibility of losing big or winning big because he cared about his team. To me, in that moment, that was all I could ask for.
Just a few minutes left. Fourth and ten. Our best player ran it up the middle for a 40 yard gain and the crowd went crazy. Then the unthinkable happened. The player fumbled the ball and the crowd went really crazy. Crazy with horror. Then a Don Bosco football player ran up, jumped into the air as high as he could, caught the fumbled ball and ran it up for another 10 yards before being tackled. That was my son. I was crying from joy, pride, and relief. We won the game shortly thereafter.
Good times, good memories, that’s what I will take with me. There were bad times, fumbles, misses, broken bones. But that’s football, my friends. And we loved it. However, the LoBiondo’s really enjoy our Summers off -- something that football families do not get to enjoy. And we really wanted our son to concentrate on academics and other sports. And this mom couldn’t take the stress and the injuries and ice baths and epsom salts anymore.
Last spring, my son became a NJ State champion when his boat took first place in the Garden State Rowing Championship. It was a great moment and I could not be more proud. But even becoming a state champion could not compare to the pride I felt at that Bergen game. Not when he caught the ball -- but when he was willing to go out there and take on all that pressure and to take whatever might come -- extreme glory or extreme agony. That is the leadership that football can instill in your son and that is something that no one can ever take away from your son. That is a mother’s moment of glory.
So this is my last blog as a (former) football mom. I like to think I gave it 110% every time.
Thanks to all the coaches, parents and players who were part of this shared journey. Go Goldbacks and GO IRONMEN! (photo from DBP v. BC 2014, Christian is No. 4)
Have a great day, everyone and, as always Remember to Count Your Blessings! <3 Mrs. Lo (for more of the Mrs. Lo Blog, visit www.LoBiondoPage.blogspot.com)