Monday, October 2, 2017

Flag Football...

When we were kids, it was totally normal to play one sport per season...because...that is all that was available for you to play.  Now almost every sport is year around and it becomes more of an "ok, you can pick two".  Some families play three but two is our limit and honestly, is probably too much.  After much thought and even a few tears, Cooper picked flag football and baseball.  Was hard for him to let soccer go, but I could tell it was his least favorite of the three so I knew he would be ok once the decision was made and he started playing football and baseball.  And honestly, I don't think he has missed it...I even asked him the other day, and he told me he didn't miss it.  He told me he likes to play for fun but doesn't have to be on a team.  


Due to Matt's football schedule we originally signed him up to play at Pinelake because Matt could be at all of his Thursday night games.  Once we got the baseball schedule and realized baseball practice was every Thursday, we switched him to Ridgecrest because they only play on Tuesday.  So...he can play football on Tuesday, baseball practice on Thursday, and baseball games on Sunday afternoon.  Lots of moving pieces, but we got it worked out so he can give 100% to both teams (which is a big deal to me).  And Matt was able to drop a couple games and only have to miss one football game...like I said, many moving pieces!!!


The problem with signing him up late at Ridgecrest was the 1st and 2nd grade teams were full...we could bump him down to kindergarten are up to 3rd and 4th grade.  He promised us he would play "big" so we chose to let him play with the older boys.


It is obvious he is younger, but he is holding his own.  The one advantage is 3rd/4th graders get it and can be coached...so...he is learning SO much and for that, we are thankful.  More than anything Matt wants him to understand the game before he puts on shoulder pads and a helmet.


A couple Saturdays ago, they had a jamboree and played 3 games back to back.  It was hot, but the kids all played their little hearts out.  I wasn't sure what it would be like, but honestly, it is so fun to watch!!!


People think that Matt would be so hard on him...he is NOT hard on either one of the kids.  I probably have higher expectations than Matt.  However, Matt wants them to understand the game so here he is simply explaining to Cooper what happened/how he could have done something a little different.


He seems to "get it" and stays pretty focused...




He's pretty quick so he plays rusher on defense and loves it...this was a big play for him, and we were oh so proud!!!





It may not be tackle football, but we still say he "sacked" the quarterback...


Pretty sure he wanted everyone to know he got that flag...



There are some really talented boys on his team so he doesn't get to play much offense, but every once in a while, you'll see him carry the ball...



Did I mention it was HOT???








Like I said, it was HOT and when you play back to back games, there is lots of water/gatorade drinking going on...




It was such a fun morning watching this little football loving boy of ours play flag football for the first time.  And it was even more fun watching his team win all three games.  They've played one more game since then so they are now 4-0.  Let's be real...everyone likes to win so to be on a good team makes it even more fun.

The Man Behind the Stripes...

I've had a post in mind about the "man behind the stripes" for some time, but I have just not found time to sit down and do it.  I happened to get an "extra day at home" because Anna Lauren isn't feeling well and couldn't go to school so I'm playing a little catch up on a few things...


Several weeks ago we had the opportunity to go to one of Matt's football games, and I took lots of pictures.  I'm going to tell his story in the midst of the pictures to keep it a little more entertaining, but I feel there is a story to tell... 


At the end of last football season, Matt decided he really wanted to pursue trying to make it to college, but he wasn't sure exactly how you go about doing that.  Thankfully a friend of ours connected him with what we consider a great mentor who has so kindly told him the path to take, answered any and every question he had, and has not been hesitant to make a phone call on his behalf.


The very first thing the mentor told him was you must lose weight as a big part of it is the "look", you must move from private school to public school, and you must attend several camps.


The goal this year was to do all those things and hopefully move from private school to public school and maybe just maybe get a chance in junior college.


To switch from private to public was not a big deal, but he was prepared to totally start over when he made this switch.  Meaning...hopefully get a few games running the clock but very unlikely he would get on the field on Friday nights.


Well, he worked his tail off and lost 30 pounds or so before he went to the high school camp the beginning of the summer.  Then he walked into the camp with the mindset to shake everyone's hand he could possibly shake, make any connection he could possibly make, and give it 100% when he worked on the field.


And as we all know...hard work pays off, and he was noticed!!!


While we were in Kentucky the last week of July, he got an e-mail that he had been picked up on a crew.  He was like do you really think this is true, Mandi?  I was prepared to run the clock on Friday night...not be on a crew with a well experienced/well liked white hat.  


And not just be picked up on a crew but to be picked up as back judge, which is typically the most athletic official on the field.


It took several days for it to sink in and a couple phone conversations with Art, white hat, before it all finally sunk in, and then he got really excited about the upcoming season.


He was a little disappointed that nothing came of junior college this year, but I truly believe God was watching out for him/our family and giving him time to adjust to this transition before adding something else.  Two brand new crews would be a bit much for one year (or so I think).


Matt is very very humble so he was a little nervous about what people would think.  Like who is this new guy who just got put on a crew when we have been trying to get on a crew for years? Things like that would go through is head, and I just continued to tell him that hard work pays off, and I think he did the necessary work.  That "work" got noticed...


He met with Art several times before the season started, and they would talk game scenarios, study rules, etc.  However, he was still nervous when the season started...he had worked so hard in the off season and wanted to prove that he really could do it and no one had made a mistake by putting him on a crew.


Thankfully he and Art hit it off and Art had 100% confidence in him from day one and those nerves have settled.  Now...Friday nights are fun, exciting, and the nerves have somewhat settled.


Not only are there Friday nights, he also can be found on a football field on Monday night, Tuesday night, and sometimes both.  I can tell that he enjoys high school much more, but he still does his part and does the 7th, 8th, and 9th grade games during the week.


Early in the season he also did junior college scrimmages and Millsaps scrimmages.  A big part of working your way up is being in the right place at the right time.  So...if someone gives you an opportunity and there may be a chance the right person is there, it's in your best interest to go.


So yes, it is a bit political as well as a beauty pageant (more so for college than high school).  That "political" part is way out of Matt's comfort zone, but he has stepped out of his box and handled it extremely well.


Honestly, I could not be more proud of him and how hard he has worked.  Only God knows the perfect plan for our family, and I continue to pray that God will use Matt's talents and provide him the opportunities that only God thinks is best for Matt and our family.  That may be high school, that may be junior college, or that may be college.  Matt will continue to work hard, and we'll continue to pray the right doors open for him.


I'm thankful he has found a "hobby" he loves that does provide a little extra money for our family but more importantly, it provides Matt to do something he enjoys and simply just makes him happy! 


And not only is he doing something he enjoys, but I have told him over and over what an example he can be on the field.  Just the way he handles every situation can be a true example of Jesus Christ shining through him...or not.  I've encouraged him to treat it in the form of a "ministry" and just be the positive one.


I mentioned Art earlier, but Matt and I have talked about him a lot this weekend.  Probably because I had the opportunity to really talk to him Saturday and have dinner with him.  God truly blessed Matt when it all fell into place for him to be on Art's crew.  Not only does he know football, but he is fun.  And if you know Matt, you know there are not many serious bones in the body so if it cannot be fun, then why do it...right?  







For the most part, they are all football, but they did stop long enough for me to take their picture as they were going in at half time.  It has been such a neat experience for Matt to get to work with the same group of men every Friday night, get to know them on and off the field, and be a part of a crew.  There are no crews in private school so this was a big change but a good change.


And the kiddos even a got a quick, sweaty hug and a picture.  It just all depends on the game rather we can see him or not.


You can tell he has spent many days on a sideline and totally makes himself comfortable and helps himself to whatever he wants...



I think one of my favorite things to watch is him interact with the kids...many times you will see them smiling, which to me means he realizes they are simply kids learning and playing a game he loves, and he has no intention to intimidate them. 



Slowly but surely I am learning all of his many hand signals...pretty sure this one means there are the correct number of players on the field.  Until you are married to a referee, you have no clue whatsoever how much time they spend studying all these hand signals, rules, etc.  They do not just walk on the field and do it...




We did laugh at Matt...he loves his little book and writes everything down.  Pretty sure Art calls him his secretary...ha ha!


I love the relationship these two are forming...now...they could be talking football, but I wouldn't put it past them to be telling a joke either...





This particular game there was a big fight at the end so you can see they are all documenting away so they can file a report later.  I feel like I have been to ALOT of high school football games and not sure I had seen a fight like this one...


Typically we are at home in bed after a long week, but this Friday it was a treat to get to watch him do his thing...



Was a little tense after the big fight so Matt was making sure Art was coming and then they were out.of.there!!!  No seeing us after the game.

So...what's next for Matt?  He will finish this season, continue to work hard in the off season, and then attend camps this summer with hopes of a junior college opportunity next fall.  Again, we will just continue to pray that God provides the opportunities that are best for Matt and our family and not us just focusing on what we think we want or want Matt wants.