Today is a special day, and when I started thinking about what to put in this week’s column I couldn’t help but think back to some of the moms I’ve known over the years that were active and involved in their young athlete’s lives.
You’ve seen them out and about at the games, and they are usually pretty easy to spot. They almost always have the team colors on, and sometimes they personalize those shirts and jackets to show off their love for their favorite player. They’ve been known to get quite creative with their designs.
I’ve watched over the years as they cheered on football teams, basketball teams, baseball or softball. Not only do they cheer, but they get to work helping to provide the “good stuff” that the teams always desire.
They staff the concessions stands, they put together car washes and bake sales, and they go out seeking donations. They don’t just find a way to pay for uniforms and socks, they wash them and get out tough stains. It doesn’t matter if it’s grass, dirt, mud, or even the occasional blood stain … they find a way to clean it up and have it ready for the next game. They want their babies to look sharp.
They also work hard to make sure that the kids have a snack before the game and something to eat on the way home. I’ve watched my wife Michelle on many occasions make 80-plus peanut butter sandwiches, bag them up, add a small bag of chips and some nabs, and then top it off with an apple or orange and a bottle of water. Hey, you’ve got to have something to wash that peanut butter down with, right? I still don’t know for sure what the pretty ribbons are about on the bags, but that’s just the touch she wanted to put on them I guess. She wants to do what she can for her soccer players, and she wants them to know she cares.
They normally get together in groups to get these things done. I know several moms in one place with a mission can make things happen. Don’t bother to try to get in their way, just let them take care of business. If you try to stop them they’ll just put you to work or send you to the other room anyway. When I see Teresa Saul and some of the other soccer moms show up at my house, I know it’s time for me to get out of the way until they tell me to do something.
Some moms over the years have stood out because of their vocal support. I’ve said many times that Jennifer Poe is one of those ideal sports moms when it comes to this. Let’s be real here … Mrs. Poe can be loud. Over the past 10 years or so I have heard her yelling in a bunch of different stadiums, gyms, and soccer fields around the state. One thing I can always count on hearing from her is a positive voice encouraging not just her sons, but the entire team.
There are other talents that make some of the other moms I’ve met stand out as well. There is no question that the Cougar basketball games have gotten much better since Leigh Ann Brewster started making the chili for the hotdogs. I don’t think the Lady Cougars lost a game this season where Niese Counts made fries in the concession stands. The baseball moms have whipped that concessions stand into shape as well.
And what about the kids that don’t play sports, but like to be active outside? I can tell you from experience about that one. I never really played organized sports until my sophomore year of high school, but my mom made sure I stayed busy. She encouraged us to get outside everyday and play. Sometimes we would come back to the house with a cut or a knee that had been through the gravel on the side of the road. She would patch us up and send us back out the door. Brenda Gravely had been brought up in a big family, and like her mom, she knew a little cut or scrape wasn’t going to be the death of us.
After years of backyard football and baseball, I finally got the urge to actually compete during my freshman year. I went out for track, and my grades that nine weeks didn’t turn out very well. That ended my time with the track team. I had already told her that I wanted to go out for the Cougar football team, and she told me it would take bringing my grades back up first. She didn’t give in to my whining, I pulled my grades up (just enough), and I got to play football.
That experience helped me get ready for many other challenges later on in my life. But she didn’t push me to do it. She encouraged me, but I also knew if I didn’t want to keep playing I could finish up that season and be done with it.
She told me to do my best, and I did. I’ve always tried to apply that to anything I’ve done, and I’ve tried to pass it along to my kids now. I think they may all be smarter than I was.
She also spent a lot of time with my brother and me doing other things as well. Our dad worked the late night shift, so most of the time it was up to mom to keep us busy and entertained. Some of the time, that meant fishing.
Dad would go with us on the weekends when he could, but it was mom who got us out and spent all of that time on the banks near the lighthouse bridge and at the Rockhouse letting us catch countless bluegills. Those times were some of my fondest memories of my childhood … well, except that time mom went to net what was without question the biggest catfish I had ever caught up to that point of my life. I had fought the fish with skill and an expert touch not often seen in a boy of that age, and when that fateful second came for her to net the fish, she accidentally hit it in the mouth and knocked the hook out. I was crushed, and to this day I remind her of that fish whenever I get the chance.
But she had already done what needed to be done. Since then I’ve caught many larger fish, netting them all carefully, and I usually make sure to brag to her a little when I catch one.
Like most kids, if mom hadn’t taken the time to teach me those lessons I may have never taken an interest in fishing. That would have been a real shame, because now I enjoy taking my own kids.
So take some time to get out and see your moms today if you can. I recommend a cookout somewhere. Those are always good, and you can get multiple moms together at once. Just make sure they know that today the cooking is your job. Afterwards, maybe you can even go do a little fishing.