If You Can’t Play Nice…

If You Can’t Play Nice…   I saw a hoodie online yesterday that totally reminds me of my son Tucker. It said “if you can’t play nice, play football.” He grinned from ear to ear when I told him about it. Some people think football is life or death, but to my son, it’s even more serious than that. In fact, we just received the wall decal he wants to take center stage on his bedroom wall. It’s a quote. JerryRice It certainly fits my son, because everyday he pushes himself a little harder. This morning he had the battle scars to prove it after the epic game the Tigers played last night.

This picture doesn’t do those bruises justice.

Report time to the field house was 5:30pm. At 5:15, we started towards the door when he asked if I’d like to pray with him. Of course, I almost didn’t hear him correctly and I tried to rush him to the car. When he repeated himself, I was embarrassed and immediately bowed my head. Tucker dropped to his knees and folded his hands in prayer. “Thank you Lord for the family you’ve blessed me with. And thank you for giving me intelligence and guiding me always. I appreciate this opportunity to show myself as a strong athlete. Please give me the chance to show my coaches and my team what I can do and keep me safe from injuries. Amen” To which I responded with my own prayer. “Lord please protect my son on and off the field. Please use him as an example for his team and his coaches as he continues to give all Glory to you Lord. And a touchdown would be icing on the cake. Amen.” Hey, I’m a firm believer that it’s totally ok to pray for success, whether that success means finishing school, recording a hit song, paying the electric bill, or yes- scoring a touchdown. God knows we’re at the game, might as well invite him into the action. We got to the stadium in time to see the junior high finish with a victory. Then Tucker lined up on the field and I prayed again, because it was a rare chance for his Dad to see him play. In the first few minutes, our team scored a touchdown and the two-point conversion. We were sitting pretty, 8-0, when the clouds opened up and the rain poured down. Some parents ran. Some looked to me for advice. I quoted the policy- no lightening, no delay of game. We keep playing.

Halftime view… nothing but raindrops and mudpuddles.

My son stepped back onto the field and started running the ball. I watched him push forward with 5 guys hanging tight, trying to pull him down. Maybe that’s why his teammates call him Tucker the Trucker. He took the handoff again and again and pushed the line of scrimmage up a few yards at a time. It was raining so hard we couldn’t play a passing game. All we could do was rotate the run between a few players. Sometimes the quarterback would try to sneak a play. Other times, Tucker would try to fake which way he was going. With the rain limiting our options, the other team knew exactly who to watch for, and they were chasing after him. But I have this feeling my son was in heaven because he was in the game, and he was fighting hard. When the boys started to look tired, my son ran to the sideline. He looked at me and the 5 parents toughing it out in the stands. “We can’t hear you,” he said. “We need to hear you.” So I did what all good football moms do. I yelled. For the rest of the game I stood in the middle of the craziest downpour I’ve seen in a long time. We inched the points up to 14-0, which was the final score. I was soaked to the bone, cold, and happy. I watched my son play football, but that’s not all I saw. I got to see the leader this kid is turning out to be. He’s smart, driven, determined, and he has God in his pocket. Those can be rare qualities among teenagers in today’s world. We always hear stories about “Generation Entitled,” and I agree this country has a long list of issues to work on. But every now a then, a moment happens that makes it impossible to deny how amazing these kids can be. I swear, if Tucker would just learn how to do the dishes on his day, he’d be absolutely perfect. But then again, I guess he needs a few flaws to remain human.  

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