Today my cousin stopped by school and gave me a present that he found at home. It was one that brought back some great memories of long ago. He brought me a football that I played with in the 5th grade and I was in the 5th grade a loooooonnnnngggggg time ago. It looked very good for a ball that was lets say 45 years old or so and still had some air in it. My cousin Greg that brought me the ball was my first football coach and he taught me lots about the sport. He was a young man and I was in elementary school and he loved football and was a really good high school player. Cousin Greg and his brother Bruce along with my two older brothers all coached me in little league. They were mentors to me all of my life and some of my biggest supporters as I grew in the sport to middle school, high school and eventually to college.
It was a very kind gesture that came from a great man that loves his family, friends and God. He could have sent me a message and I could have went by his house and picked it up. Instead, he took the time out of his day to bring it by school and deliver it to me. As he was leaving he told me he was very proud of me and what I had accomplished as a coach. That along with the old football made my day much better and brought back so many memories of practicing on that old football field with hardly any grass. MY friends and I beating on each other tackling, running, jumping, blocking, catching and just being kids. Greg and his coaching staff were my inspirations growing up. I would go over to the high school on Friday nights and watch them play. Then on Sundays at my grandmothers we would play some more and I got beat around pretty good by the older guys.
It toughened me up and made me love the game at an early age and created a love affair with football that lasted as a player, coach and fan for over 45 years. 30 of those coaching at different levels including some little league time working with those kids to give back what my cousins and brothers had given to me. Many childhood memories include playing football, sports and hanging out with our friends. I now have that football to add to a collection of many. I have a ball from every level I played or coached except middle school. This football memory will sit on my desk at work, proudly displayed for me to look at, smile and think about playing ball as a kid and the joy and success it has brought my life.
We all have memories stowed away and sometimes we just need that trigger to bring them back after many, many years. It made me think about practice, spending time with friends, going to McDonalds for a cheeseburger after games. It made me be thankful for all the football skills, life skills, memories and future opportunity I may pursue with the game that helped shape who I am today. Coach Greg (cousin Greg) helped shape me into the man I am today also. Thanks Greg for the football and the football memories it brought back.