Yesterday was Joaquin’s (Wack’s) 1st football practice at Antonian High School. He’d been preparing himself for these practices by attending the Strength and Conditioning camp during the summer at the high school. These were tough workouts that tested his capabilities and determination.
During the 1st week of the camp, we had some very strong conversations about commitment, perseverance and dedication. By the end of the second week, he was looking forward to the daily workouts and he made it through the 4 week camp. He said it helped that he knew most of the football drills – thanks to his football coaching staff at Blessed Sacrament Catholic school.
The practices for the Freshman football team were being held from 10:30am to noon so I took off from work to pick him up. I figured he might be sore plus I wanted to talk to him about his first day in such a large team sport. We hadn’t bought him football cleats so I thought we might do that during the afternoon.
Never mind that fact that my boy is starting High School, but add High School sports and you can count me as a bit apprehensive in my approach to this new venture. I sometimes think Wack is more relaxed than I am.
As I pulled up to the school, I parked up on the hill, turned off my truck and looked down at the practice field. I began to slowly scan the area of over 70 players to try and find my son in the sea of grey t-shirts, red shorts and red helmets.
Wack’s not a speedster but his size and quickness would make him an ideal candidate for the line, so I concentrated my search to that area. I soon spotted the familiar stance of my son as he was going through the drills. I could see him nodding to his lineman coach as he received direction and I am confident in saying that Wack ended his response to the coach with a, “Yes sir.”
At least from my untrained eyes he seemed to being doing well and holding his own. I had arrived a bit early so as I settled back into my seat to watch the drills – I noticed a figure walking around the football practice field. He was wearing black shorts, white baseball cap, a blue and white shirt with that familiar red Bulldog logo on the left side.
It was Wack’s middle school football coach, Andrew Torres. I recognized the confidence and authority of his stride as walked to different areas of the practice field — silently looking down to his clipboard through his dark sunglasses, taking notes.
All business that Torres…
Coach Torres stayed with the team all the way through practice and stood silently by the team when they all huddled and listened to their new coach offer words of encouragement. In an iconic ending, the team lifted their football helmets above their heads in tight circle, shouted something and then broke huddle. Practice was over and a sigh escaped me.
It brought me such a sense of relief knowing I was not the only one at the practice, to watch and encourage my son’s progress.
I started my truck and pulled around to the gymnasium to wait for Wack and in a few minutes, this large, sweaty, sunglass wearing young man rounded the corner in his Apache grey shirt and red shorts. I had to do a double take to make sure it was him. He seemed so much bigger than I remembered this morning. But his toothy smile betrayed the tough guy image. There was my growing young man — hidden behind those sunglasses.
He wasn’t even wearing a football uniform but my heart swelled with pride as he approached the truck.
I know he will do well.
As he opened the door and climbed in, I asked, “How was it Papa?”
“Pretty good. I liked. It.” He responded.
“Was it tough?”
“Not too bad Dad. I’m used to it.”
No doubt thanks to Coach Torres who had also prepared my son for this new chapter in his young life.
“Did you see Coach Torres Papa? I saw him walking around.”
“Yes sir, I saw him.”
“Did he tell you hello?”
“No sir, he was just there watching us.”
“Huh…why was he there?”
“Probably to see any new plays and to show support for HIS PLAYERS.“
Thank you Coach Torres for the continued support of my son. There are very few people who can make an impression on parents (and kids) and I am grateful that you are one of them.
For those of you who don’t know of Coach Torres, that’s him up in the picture (I took) during his 1st football season as head coach at Blessed Sacrament Catholic school. He is a dedicated family man, coach and teacher. You can see more of him by clicking on this link for the videos I produced of the 2010 and 2009 sports seasons.
Thank you for letting me share and I’ll have a football schedule posted soon.