Thursday, April 15, 2021

My wife and I have been sitting in the bleachers since 1999

All five of our children have participated in sports of one kind or another.

The result has been that, over more than two decades, Terry and I have watched countless soccer, t-ball, baseball, and football games. And don't forget all of the freezing cross country meets and rain-soaked track invitationals.

I coached many of those events, which meant that in addition to the natural nervousness that comes from hoping your own kid does well, I also had to worry about equal playing time and securing post-game snacks for other people's kids.

I wouldn't change any of it, of course, but lately I've marveled at how big a part of our life it has been.

It started with Elissa as the cutest little 5-year-old t-ball player you'll ever want to see, and it's likely to end in a couple of years on a high school track just before Jack graduates.

In between there have been some truly incredible moments. There have also been a few lowlights, including the time I told a portly soccer referee to "lay off the doughnuts" after I watched my son get viciously fouled with no call. (There should have been a whistle, but I wish I hadn't said that.)

Jack is our last student-athlete, and his specialty is distance running. He runs cross country and does the middle- and long-distance events in track. I think he's crazy, but then again, as a former sprinter, I think all distance runners are crazy.

I keep telling myself to savor every race and appreciate every moment we have left watching him compete. Everyone says it ends sooner than you'd like, and I can see how that will be true.

But I'll admit that sometimes, when I'm shivering my way through an eight-hour, 35-degree track meet, I allow myself to think for just a second that maybe it would be OK if we could fast-forward to Jack's senior year.

Then, of course, he zooms past us on the track and we cheer for him as loud as we can and it's all good again.

It's amazing how fast you warm up when you have the increasingly fleeting opportunity to watch your formerly little boy do his thing.

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