When I was younger I loved to play football. Absolutely loved the game. I’m pretty sure this is because of my dad. There are pictures of me wearing a small Rams helmet and trying to hike a ball when the ball was almost as big as me. I’m not sure if that was BECAUSE of my dad’s love for football, or if I just found it exciting.
As I got older I played a lot of sandlot football. As did we all. The dirt lots at St Francis Elementary school were made of soft pillows apparently. Me and Scott used to play catch all the time in and our backyards. We played so much that when we were at school the other kids refused to allow us to be on the same team. Apparently we could dominate on those dirt lots. We played full out tackle and there was no grass on the field. Granted, this is from 2nd to 4th grade. We weren’t very huge, but still full contact tackle, in the dirt.
I vaguely remember the nuns asking us to not play tackle. I remember it lasting about 2 days before we were back to dirt baths. We were probably punished by writing down bible versus or such. I don’t remember a lot of the actual SCHOOL part of those days. Scott and I would make up plays and then run them at school the next day. Eventually, the other kids would get mad at us for beating the crap out of them, they’d make us play against each other. We were the ‘all time quarterbacks’.
Then in the fourth grade, I stopped being a falcon and became a warrior. Sort of a reverse vision quest. All this time, my dad continued to play catch with me. Continued to teach me some little things here and there. I remember practicing the button hook where the ball is released before the turn is made. I don’t remember if I was good at it or not. I just remember doing it. I remember trying to be a good quarterback. I don’t remember anyone teaching me how to properly throw a football. (there is no little league out on the rez). So I as probably doing it incorrectly for the longest time.
Somewhere around here, puberty hit and I became a jerk. I recall playing with my friends. Me, Shane, Shawn, Chad, Anthony, Scott, Rowyn and many others would play after the high school games on the field. We would go to the local park and play full on tackle. My dad probably stopped playing with me so much because I was either; A. raging on hormones or 2. he had 4 other kids to take up his time. Along with a full time job and working on a BUILDING a bigger house. He told me I got very interested in computers around this time. So I stopped playing as much as I used to. At least, that’s what he remembers.
So in the 8th grade, I played high school football. I wasn’t fast, but I could catch anything. This again, thanks to my dad. So, I was a tight end. We went both ways back then (gross) so I also played a Defensive End. I was also the youngest person on the team. (but not the smallest thankfully)
When I think about all the stuff he managed to accomplish and compare it to my current workload as a father, Let me put it this way, if I did any less it would be considered haunting. I make every attempt to play ball with my kiddos. Sometimes even when they don’t want to. But it shows when they get on the field or the court. So I feel like I’m doing a good job. But I want to continue to help them strive to reach their potential.
if I did any less it would be considered haunting
Therein lies the question.
How HARD do you push them to reach it? Did I have potential that my dad didn’t PUSH me through? Would I have fought it even if he did? Would he have ruined the game for me for the rest of my life if he pushed too hard? He always told me that ‘it’s a game. Designed to be fun, otherwise, why do it?”. I love that philosophy. I used to be a decent little ballplayer. Did I stop being good? Or was I only the big fish in a tiny puddle?
I love that philosophy
I may have been good enough to play in more competitive leagues as I got older had I been pressured. There really weren’t any other leagues on the reservation so it’s not like my options were plentiful. Then again, I may not have the same love of the game I have to this very day, if I had been pressured. So maybe he knew what he was doing.
It’s a battle I have every day when I play with my kids. Who has the right answer? Do I know their personality well enough to know when to stop? Or am I worried about them not getting to their top point? What’s more important? These are the things that wake me up in the middle of the night.
Sports is the one thing I always did when I wanted to hang out with my friends. When I wasn’t sure what I should do that day, month, YEAR, I played ball. As a kid on the reservation, this is probably bigger than most people can imagine. If it wasn’t for my love of the game, that I got from my dad, I’m not sure I would still be breathing to debate this question.
Softball leagues in Pagosa, Basketball tournaments, Softball Tournaments, noonball. It was my daily life and I loved it.
Maybe he pushed me just enough. Maybe he’s the reason I’m coaching now. Maybe he’s the reason I’m still alive. Maybe, just maybe…
He was right all along.
happy birthday dad.