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Salient Life Moment of the Week from Practice
by posted 08/17/2019

Football has been called the “ultimate team sport”. But what does that really look like? Is it in the celebrations after a touchdown or a big defensive stop? Is it even in every player performing their job in a given play to perfection resulting in great success? Those things are awesome! And certainly worthy of recognizing as proud moments. But every now and then, it’s way from the glorious moments and sometimes far away from the game day that the true brotherhood of the sport is on display. It’s a moment that not only tugs at the heart, but bonds a group of players together and showcases what being a team really means.

We had one of those moments yesterday, at that oh so dreaded part of practice when coach yells out “Form a line!” and the boys line up, with a few almost inaudible groans from the players to begin end of practice sprints. We had a great practice! One of those practices where the kids are pulling together everything they’ve learned all week, and now doing these things at a much quicker pace with better and better technique all the time, plus games where they get to compete and have fun! And yet it was in this last seemingly unimportant drill that we saw the greatest lesson these boys will ever take away from this sport, and one I will remember the rest of my days.

They run their sprints, about 20 yards or so, and do a great job! The last sprint now upon them, and coach yells out they get to run to the tree line and back. It’s a good distance, maybe 120 yards or so, maybe more. They sprint out on “Go!” and begin their trek. They get to the tree line, make their turn and run back, a loose mob, spread out practically the whole length and distance of the field coming in a few at a time, and then most of them, with a few stragglers at the end. And as they turn to finish their sprint, all completely spent, they look back, and one player, a 3rd grader, stalky, struggling with asthma with a coach there to help him, all the way at the far end of the field. The coaches yell out that there’s still a player out there, who will go get him? At first a few do, then more, until finally the entire C and D team have gone back out the entire length of the field to get their brother. That in and of itself was awesome! But what happened next I hope was a lesson these boys will take with them through any situation they find themselves in throughout life. They encouraged him, high fived, pats on the back, he walked. They stayed with him, letting him know he can do it. As a team, they stayed with him the whole way, and about 75 yards away from the finish line, he began to run. Not just run, but run with a pride, purpose and determination that propelled him to a level that I had not ever seen him run. And they all cheered, they followed and finished with him and celebrated.

As coaches, in moments like that, you can’t help but well up and feel incredible pride in these young men. Any coach will tell you that being a coach is way more about the love you have for the kids than any playbook, win, sport or drill. And THIS sport, more than any other, provides moments like this that remind you what it means to be a team. The unselfishness of playing for  your teammates. The power of your brothers picking you up when you don’t think you have anything more. The strength-giving energy of positive encouragement, love and pride knowing these brothers are there for you and won’t let you fall. That you’re in it together and no matter what, win or lose, succeed of fail, they’re there for you and will help you push through your barriers and obstacles to show you what you can achieve, even after you think you’ve given all you have.

It’s those moments that remind us what being the ultimate team sport is about, and what coaching and playing this sport should always be about first and foremost.

Sean Graham
President Amesbury Jet Football and Cheer

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