Last night we went to East’s football game. I love football season. I love the game so much. But I have to be honest, it’s hard for me to go to any football game where my #22 is not on the field. I still have not gone to an Edgewood high school football game since Zach’s last one – in October, 2015. It may sound silly, but I just can’t imagine sitting in the stands at Kumler field and not seeing my boy out there.
Both Paige and Meaghan are a part of Lakota East’s amazing marching band – and I love watching them do their thing on Friday nights! They amaze me with their hard work and talent. But watching the game – even the game that I love – is just, well, different.
I’ll never forget taking Zach to his first pee wee football practice. He didn’t start in Kindergarten as many of his friends did. Rather he waited until 4th grade to try out this sport that would forever change all of our lives. As we pulled up to the practice field, he was fighting tears. He changed his mind twice as we were getting out of the car. He held tightly to my hand (not cool for most boys that age) but fought off those fears and went out there to join his team. From that day on, Zach was obsessed with the sport. He practiced on his own in the backyard. He watched any and every football game on tv. He studied the playbook. He played imaginary games in his room long past bedtime. He became a football player.
His love of the game continued through junior high and high school. He was one of the most dedicated, passionate players I have ever seen (yes, I am biased…but it’s true). Zach was also a very talented baseball player, earning Player of the Year his sophomore season in high school, along with many other honors through high school. As college approached, he looked at several schools to play baseball, but also received some football offers. I truly thought all along he would choose baseball but when it came time for a decision, he went with his first true love. He said to me “Mom, there is just something about the hype leading up to a football game. I’m not ready to be finished.”
Zach went on to play four years at Otterbein University where we were able to make so many amazing memories. We tailgated weekly and made so many new friends through his journey. Saturdays in fall were my absolute favorite. Still are. Just a little different now.
As excited I am for another college football season, I still get emotional thinking about the fact that my favorite football player of all time will not be suiting up! I will watch all the games. I will cheer hard for the Buckeyes. But I will always be thinking of all of the cheers and tears that a lifetime of football with my only son brought me. Thank you #22!