I’ve been asked the last few weeks why I would want to help support football especially for kids. I am pretty sure the people that ask me have never played nor have had children that have played youth football. I can understand the concern, when you look at the statistics of brain injury and football the numbers are staggering. Having children safe should be the first priority. If you are with a good program they will have the kids safety first. I have to say ,Drew was hurt so much more in basketball then he ever was in football. In basketball Drew has had concussions, black eyes, strained ribs, and stress fracture of the foot. He only got hurt in football once he pulled his hamstring muscle.
But to our family and quite a few others football is so much more than just a game. It is a place that your kids can let off all that pent up energy from a long day at school. It is a place where they learn that a job done well is sometimes hard but we keep going. It is a place they learn that working as a team is the only way you will succeed. It is a place where they hear their name cheered and feel the glow of pride. It is a place where they learn that winning isn’t everything and playing a good fair game is what counts. I could go on and on as to what a child learns from football but they learn these things from so many sports and activities in their lives. These are important lessons in life. It’s so much more than a game of football.
Drew played quite a few sports but football was his love. He was a big guy and he found the outlet that his size finally helped him. He found a place that the kids and the adults saw him for him and not just what he looked like on the outside. Drew felt like he belonged on the field. He was never the fastest, but he had a big heart and a will to not quit. His teammates and coaches gave him as much as he gave. When he ran and would be last they would go back and run with him. They would tell him that he could do the hard things. They would tell him that he was a part of them and they would not let him do it on his own. Drew tried doing football in middle school and high school but he didn’t enjoy it as much. I asked him why he didn’t want to do it and he told me that he didn’t like that the coaches only cared about winning that they didn’t want to even get to know him.
Yesterday I went to a fundraiser for our local Young American Football League. There were coaches, players, parents, and organizers all there helping out to raise money for the program. It was a great site to see so many supporting the children to have a great season. I went there in the hopes that I could tell more people about Smiles From Drew and hopefully sell some raffle tickets. My plans did not work but I had the pleasure to help one of the Coaches with the car wash. This man has been with YAFL for 27 years. He like most of the other coaches he started off by coaching his own kids, but like most children they grew up and he kept coaching. He doesn’t coach because he has to, he doesn’t coach because he makes any money doing it, he coaches because he loves helping the kids. I am sure over the years he has thought of all the things he could be doing with his time besides scheduling practices, getting ready for games, and dealing with parents that think this season is the NFL. I am sure he has had to say he couldn’t do things for him and his family because he had an obligation to his team. That is what youth football is about. Youth football is about all the people that believe in these children. Youth football is about all the dedication that goes into making a season possible. Youth football is about the kids having a place to call their own. It takes a lot of dedication to coach these teams. Most of these coaches have used their own money to help kids get cleats and equipment. Most of these coaches are sometimes the only “father” figures some of these kids have. These kids need to have someone in their corner that wants the best from them and they need to know that they are important.
During Drew’s YAFL years the men that helped him on the field were his mentors, they were the men he looked up to. There were a few coaches that Drew aspired to be like. He used to say to me “what would Coach Neil want you to do”? Football is so much more to these kids. To some these are the people that will shape them into “good” men. These are the reasons I chose football.