Last Friday night, I joined a good portion of the residents of Mason County in making the trek to Mustang Stadium in Marble Falls for what turned out to be the final game of the 2010 season. The Punchers played an awesome game that night, and I can't begin to express how very proud all of us in Mason are of these fine young men.
I have to admit that the grouch in me starts to get antsy as we move into late November and December and we're still playing football. I'm a creature of habit, and a small part of me grumbles about getting my Friday nights back.
But, only a very small part.
There is another, much larger part of me, that swells with pride every time I walk into a new stadium in a new town. I watch the players warming up in the end zone, watch the trainers getting everything ready on the sidelines; and, watch the cheerleaders, band, flag corps and twirler finding their various items and getting them ready for the game.
We all have routines that we follow at the games. Coach Joy and I nod a greeting. The players and I trade quick acknowledgments, and we move on to our positions.
There's a sense of excitement, a touch of nervousness, and a bit of awe as we all assume our positions and our roles and the game begins.
After having done this for almost a dozen years, you would think I would be able to walk through it on autopilot. But, I don't.
The players are different. The trainers are different. The fans change depending on parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. The weather is hot, cold, windy, rainy.
I see the games from a different perspective than most. I'm on the sidelines, from end zone to end zone. I chat with the chain gangs. I exchange greetings with the referees. I talk to the other photographers.
I watch the game, anticipating where I need to aim the camera. I keep my finger on the shutter button waiting for the right moment to snap the picture. Sometimes I capture the moment. Sometimes I end up with a photo of five people piled up on the ground.
So, here we are, almost five months down the road from when the 2010 Punchers began the season. I've watched them win all but two of their games. I've watched them lift up one of their own as he goes through healing, embracing him and his spirit as part of their own drive to play as a team.
That was one of the many things that made the 2010 Punchers different than some of the others. They were also different because, even though they had a number of "stars," they always continued to play as a team. They were brothers with a common goal. They were family.
After a season that saw many records fall, they became a new entry into the recordbooks. They still have months to go, some still have years, and they are likely to make their mark in many other areas before their school careers are ended.
So, here it is in December. I finally have my Friday nights back.
But, truth be told, I'm disappointed that this Friday I don't have a new stadium to enter. I'm sad that I won't see the 2010 Punchers play another game.
But, I'm very proud of all I was privileged to see and be a part of, and I thank them for the ride!
It’s all just my opinion.