Posts Tagged 'Friday night lights'

Friday Night Lights: Back on the Field

Tom and I and our star.

Friday Night Lights – Evanston Township High School football, filled our calendar, our basement, and swept us away 20 years ago. Our son, Gabriel, #70, was the Center, that’s a position, not a mom’s bragging. I can’t really define that exact role but I always liked the sound of it.

After four years on the field, this 1997 season looked like the big one. Victory after victory, the wins kept coming. Each week the ranking got higher and soon they were ranked #4 in the nation by USA TODAY. Winning the state title felt like it was in the bag, but it didn’t happen.

USA TODAY 11/11/97

The sensational run ended abruptly during a snowfall at the last game of the season when no more victories came through and we all mournfully filed out of the stadium for the last time.

Tom and I stayed in touch with some of the players, they still came in and out of our home occasionally when passing through town. Most conversations still included at least some snippets about THAT fall when hope flooded the field and all dreams seemed possible.

Every autumn we said to each other, “let’s go back to a game” but we never did.

Until a few weeks ago.

The boys came back.  Twenty years had passed and it was time to gather again.

Our grandson looking out on the field where his dad played.

Like stepping into a time machine, we headed back to the field. Tents were set up and a long table of barbecue lined the perimeter. Player’s parents like us showed up but now also wives, girlfriends, and kids. A whole new crowd that wasn’t around back then but had heard all the stories of the season that blew everyone away.

We swelled with pride once again when the announcer proclaimed that this team’s record was still standing and invited them all out on the field for half time. Tears wet my face as my son picked up his son and strode out there with his teammates to thunderous applause.

I know football is under closer scrutiny now, for good reason. I also know the camaraderie, community, and common vision that fall impacted us all in ways we’ll never forget.

Thanks, ETHS Wildkits, for the chance to cheer again, one more time.

Hope for the best,

Tish

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