Ah, it’s that time again. School is back in session (kind of) and we are getting ready for high school football (in a way).
Here in our small town of Milan, TN, we are preparing to open the season tonight – on a Thursday night – against one of our in-county rivals. Peabody High School, from Trenton, are the two-time defending state champions and have won this match-up for three consecutive seasons. In non-corona USA, the crowd would reach and exceed capacity. Bragging rights are on the line for another year. As icing on the cake, this is the 100th game played between the two schools (Milan leads the series 51-46-2).
But, for me, this game will always mean something different.
While social media can explode with ticket requests, seating complaints, parking dilemmas, and whether or not to line the highway with celebrating fans and parents; my heart will always link preparing to play Peabody High School with the worst phone call I’ve ever received.
This year should be starting Kindergarten, talking about T-ball, and putting purple on to yell for the Dawgs. But, this game reminds me of watching a game of which I cared very little about the result. Of playing catch at halftime with my then 12-year old son, the ball boy, on the sidelines. Of the phone call that changed everything.
On Tuesday, it will have been three years since I’ve gotten a hug or heard that voice (except in recordings).
So tonight, if you’re at the game but don’t have your seat; if you didn’t get one of the limited tickets; if your livestream link doesn’t work quite right; or if your team doesn’t play well – it will be OK. Just go home and give someone you love a hug.
In the end, you won’t miss the events. You’ll miss the people in them.
And, Go Dawgs!