Sports highs, lows a highlight of fall season
Sports kept us very busy this fall, and to use the opening lines from the once popular television show “Wide World of Sports,” we experienced the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”
In fact most of our free time this fall was filled with sporting events. I think the most important fact is that Jean became a fan and really enjoyed watching Kansas City Royals baseball games. Like nearly everyone in the area, the march to the World Series was compelling and a thrilling time.
Jean was a superstitious fan with her fingers tightly crossed at key points of the game. On the other hand, I was a fan who loudly disagreed with almost every call that went against the Royals. Jean even convinced a couple of friends that baseball was a tense, exciting sport. Certainly the World Championship was the thrill of victory.
The only activity that kept us away from the TV and the Royals was Lawrence Free State High School football. Our grandson, Sam, was the starting tailback and linebacker, and we enjoyed watching his senior season and Free State’s march deep into the state play-offs. It was almost a season that didn’t happen, since Sam suffered a serious foot injury in the first game in 2014 and missed the football and wrestling season. He had surgery and spent the past year in rehabilitation. He came back and had an all-Sunflower League year. Another facet of our sports fall was watching our youngest grandson, Shane, play freshman football. I remain an ardent Bonner Springs fan, and the only thing that pried me away from the Braves on Friday night was grandson Stan starting to play for Free State. It has taken five years for me to feel comfortable in green and white rather than orange and black. Make no mistake, I will always be a Braves’ booster.
Since the Kansas State High School Activities’ Association deemed that Lawrence Free State was in western Kansas, that meant several longer trips. In the old days, a round trip drive to Wichita or Topeka was nothing. However, those days are gone, and we spent the night and drove back the following day. Really it was a series of nice, mini-vacations.
Again, Jean was superstitious when she found a penny on the way into a game. She placed it in her shoe and kept it there on game nights. In worked well until the semi-finals (so much for that good luck charm).
There were several positives in our experiences. First, we got to know a lot of wonderful folks who were Free State parents or grandparents. Everywhere we went, people were more than ready to make sure that I made it safely to my seat, and believe me, some stadiums were challenges. My son-in-law Stan was always right behind me in watchful support. Another positive was that we learned how to get driving directions via “Siri.” I never thought that I would ever be taking orders from an electronic device.
Everything came to a screeching halt at Derby High School when Free State lost 35-14 and the dream ended for us. The young men who played will have memories that will last a lifetime, and after all, that’s what sports are all about. After a while, the bitter taste of a loss will be forgotten and they will remember the wins. Looking back at the eight years I played football, I don’t remember a single score, but I cherish the experience and friendships.
For us it was a thrilling ride that ended a week too soon. Football isn’t over for Sam and many of his teammates. Next fall they will be playing at a higher level, wearing different uniforms and making a new set of memories.