My "Boys of Fall"

Small town sports are like no other! Last week was our first football game of the year for our small town high school. I have three boys in high school and they all play football. My oldest boy is a junior and the other two are twins who are freshmen.

I have to admit, I am not a great football mom. I'm a big chicken! I can barely sit on the stands and watch my boys get tackled without yelling, "Get off him!" But I control myself and when they do get an especially rough hit and take an extra few seconds to get up, I make myself stay on the stands and not run to the field to ask, "Are you okay, honey?" I've been told that is not helpful.

Remember, I am a farm kid who was more agriculturally-inclined than athletically-inclined. I didn't play sports, I was in FFA and learned livestock judging and how to weld. I went to a bigger school than my kids, where they actually had to cut kids from the teams.  I grew up with only a sister and we learned that a girl could do anything she wanted to do--including farm work and other physical labor. My sister played volleyball and basketball, but I had no experience with football.  Then along came my sons. Our kids go to a small school where we need nearly every boy to go out for football so we can have a team! Some years we have to combine our junior high team with a school 30 miles away to be able to have enough boys to play.

I am all about equality--remember, I'm a woman rancher! But boys are just made differently. My boys are sweet, and sensitive when it's appropriate... check out the story of them saving five little kittens from certain death ...but they are tough and smelly when it comes to the football field! Our school plays 8-man football, which is a lot faster and more action-packed than regular 11-man. The boys on the field get a huge workout running and hitting all over the field! They are covered in sweat, dirt and grass stains and you can almost smell the adrenaline.

After the game, I called my boys together and told them to smile for the camera! They refused. Our team had played hard, with all 3 of my boys on the field at different times, but we had lost. I tried to cheer them up with comments like, "I'm so proud of your effort" and "keep up the good work" but it didn't seem to matter. My husband just stood there shaking his head at me like I was completely nuts!

I talked about it with my sister, who has two boys that both play football. She "gets it"--the energy, the pride, the physical and emotional effort that football requires. She said I needed to watch Kenny Chesney's video for his song "The Boys of Fall." So finally I took a few minutes to look it up.

Okay, Sis, I get it now. Wow, what a great video--Kenny understands small towns and what sports mean to a small school. Next week is our football homecoming and the theme they chose is "The Boys of Fall." My senior daughter is a homecoming queen candidate. She is one of only two girls in her entire high school class. They will graduate 15 kids next May. The whole town shows up for high school football! They will scream and cheer from the sidelines and stomp their feet on the stands that sit just a few feet off the field on the grass--all for our boys who are giving their all on the field. There will be a huge crowd for the crowning of the homecoming king and queen before the game, with a tailgate feed being served by the senior class parents and the dance team and cheerleaders will both perform at halftime.

Our town has a total population of nearly 500 people, but there will be many more than that at the homecoming game--past graduates, grandparents, parents and many people with no kids who just come out to be a part of the community! Small town football is about community and the kids learning and giving their best on the field. I will be there with my camera, like the rest of the moms, and I promise to still sit on the stands and not run out on the field. But I think I have a better understanding of what it all means. I love our small town and I can learn to love football, I guess!


  1. Love ya, Deb. Glad to share being both a football mom and football fan with you; I'm so proud of your evolution! LOL!

    Go Huskies! Go Braves! Go Twisters! Go 'Cats! Go Chiefs! (Man, do I have a full calendar this time of year!)

    FYI, heard that video has broken all records in number of downloads. ...Brings tears to my eyes every time I see it.

    1. Here we go again, Amy Lou!! Thinking of your boys on the field tonight, too!

  2. Debbie-

    Both my husband and I loved this post! He played football in small town Nebraska, and then went on to play in college. We still go to the high school games on Friday night even though he played more than 20 years ago! Athletics are the heart of our small town communities, and bring us all together. I love to watch my three girls compete (volleyball, basketball, cross country, and track) and can't wait until they are in high school!

    Thanks for the great post.
    Anne Burkholder

  3. Thanks for your kind comments, Anne. The school and sports are often the heart of a small town--it is what draws us together on a Friday night and what we talk about all week before the next game! Even though I'm not a big football fan, I'm a small town fan and I do "get" how it glues us to a place and time! Thanks for reading!

  4. Here we go again, Debbie!! I don't know how you do it with three on the field! I'm worried tonight about having two!!

    1. This post was actually written two years my oldest boy is a college freshman. So I only have two on the field this year. They are juniors. Oh we go! Good luck to you and your boys tonight (since we don't play each other)!


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