It’s Only a Game

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Photo credit: Dave Fisher-Firehousefoto

There is something about a Friday night high school football game in late October.  Lost in the action of the first quarter of play the sun sets and then suddenly a level of inwardness pulls you in, under the halo of lights, to where you forget the world beyond the glow.  Voices carry. Pads crack pads. Whistles echo. Bells ring. Tempers flare. Hearts swell.

To many it becomes the only thing that matters.  But after last night I reaffirmed in my heart one simple conclusion: It is only a game.

Four years ago a young man walked into Hockinson High School and I don’t think anyone could have predicted how he would singlehandedly change a community. Because he loved this game.

As a freshman he would pace the visitors sideline, because it was less crowded, and as he did he recited a play by play of Hawks football in his head.  He was friends with #15, #65, #55, #11 and #78,  freshmen who were called up to play varsity ball and classmates from primary school.  Every Friday, as part of a socialization skill he would deliver home baked cookies to each football player at lunch.

“Find #55, Colton.”

He would find #55.

“Say, ‘Good Luck’, Colton.”

“Good Luck, man!”

With a genuine smile and thanks, every player on the team respected and regarded his need to build his social skills.

Sophomore year.  More of his friends moved up to varsity.  More cookies were baked and delivered during lunch.  More, “Good Luck, man!”.  That year he was honored with a football jersey to wear on Friday nights and he moved to call his play by play behind the Hawk bench.

Junior year.  More friends. More cookies. More, “Good Luck, man!”. More realization that the young man walking in front of us was perhaps the greatest Hawks fan the school had ever seen and, maybe, just maybe,  a little bit more.

Senior year.  More friends. More cookies. More, “Good Luck, man!” and finally a lesson in selflessness played out not on the field but on the sidelines…delivered to us by an entire football team of young men.

There were rumblings that the Hawks Greatest Fan might be nominated for Homecoming Court. And when he was, it affirmed that this young man was something special with his peers.  Fast forward to the Homecoming Game.  He rode the float with the court.  He was announced to the thunderous cheers of the student body.  He fist pumped #21 while waiting for the crowing of Homecoming King. He smiled his infectious smile.  Yet, he didn’t win.  #15 did. But as fast as the crown was placed on #15’s head, it was taken off, by #15’s own hands, and placed gently on Colton’s head and in that moment Colton became everyone’s Homecoming King.

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Fast forward to a few weeks later, Senior Night.  The last time this group of boys would play together on their home field.  The last night Colton would pace the sidelines cheering on his friends.  To honor him the entire Hawks football team donated their own money and purchased a letterman’s jacket, complete with an “Honorary Team Captain” patch sewn onto the left sleeve and four football pins representing the years he has been their greatest fan.  He walked onto the field, hand in hand, to be a part of the pre-game coin toss.523559_4969893744762_2017918067_n

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The boys lost their final home game that night but they won big in this game we call LIFE.  They didn’t make the night about THEM.  They made the night about someone else.  They made the night about HIM. And because of their actions off the field it has reaffirmed in my heart that when these boys walk off the field for the last time ever this November they are what we can only hope all our sons will be in life. Gentlemen. Compassionate souls. Winners.

Oh, and football?  Except for maybe the Greatest Hawk Fan in school history, we should all remember. It. Is. Only. A. Game.

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Photo credit: Mike Schultz Battle Ground Reflector

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This entry was posted in Good Kids, Growing Up, Herding Boys, Life With More Than 2.5 Children, My Heart, Snips and Snails and Compassionate Tales, The Greatest Sports Fans: Moms! and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to It’s Only a Game

  1. Laura Schauer says:

    Beautifully said Juile!

  2. PATRICK L. WHITE says:

    This is the kind of story that needs to be on facebook .All kids should read this and follow.Someday he will pay it forward very heart warming thank you for the share WONDERFUL KIDS

  3. Monique Krahn says:

    Oh, Julie, thank you for this! Accompanying our boys to this place has been a sweet journey.

  4. janet says:

    Wow! So well said and so very true. What an amazing bunch of guys these football players are and will be. Momma’s, you all did a great job raising up these boys. We are so grateful for them and how they have touched Coltons life. What a blessing they have been. Thank you so very much.

  5. Barbara Coriglaino says:

    In the midst of all the terrible acts of young teens toward others, this is a much needed inspirational story. Following Colton’s journey at Hockinson School has been amazing to say the least and a true tribute to the our once kids, but now young adults. Colton is an amazing kid. Thank you for taking the time to put this all into words for all of us to read.

  6. Amy Berg says:

    This made me cry. Thank you for writing about these wonderful young men!

  7. Marilyn says:

    Hi Julie,

    This is a beautiful poem. Everyone who reads this cannot help but be moved by the sentiment, the unselfishness, and the great message of love and kindness. Thank yu for sharing such a powerful reminder of how each of us play an important part in making another’s day a little bit better. I am amazed by the strength in this gentle act of love. Thank you!

  8. Mary Ann says:

    Julie, thank you for writing this. It’s a story that needs to be told, and you, as a gifted writer have captured it for all of us. It is truly moving and inspirational. I have read it several times. The pictures are wonderful also.

  9. Missy says:

    Many thanks to Danette for sharing this with me. I endeavor to believe in the future, especially when everything we dream for our children is exhibited in moments like these.

  10. suetedder says:

    The very reason I love going into LIFE SKILLS, Colton and the gang. They are such pleasure to work with.
    Beautifully written and a real tribute to a very special guy. Thanks Julie.

  11. Melinda Nute says:

    That was beautiful, Julie.

  12. Lesli says:

    Well done to all the young men! If you are representative of your generation, it bodes well for the future of our country!

  13. Julie,
    What a wonderful story.I brought tears again to my eyes,just as it did at the game Friday night. What a wonderful group of young men.All of Hockinson should be proud of them and the parents who raised them

  14. Pingback: Senior Night | Yet To Be Determined

  15. Julie! I did not realize you were a writer of such profound proportion!!!! I read a couple of your entries and they are amazIng! I will be visiting here often…you write with such wit and insight and I can relate to what you say in so many ways!! Having had two of your boys in the preschool, I feel a part of them…..can’t wait to read more!!

  16. Tim Hawkins says:

    Amazing story about Colton. However, I would add that #15 is an amazing young man as well. I don’t know him at all but watching him from the stands for the last 4 years and especially this year, you can see what a quality kid you have, Julie. It’s been a privilege to see his selfless acts of true love for others. Hats off to his parents for shaping Nick’s heart. 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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