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  • Writer's pictureGerald Tindal

Day 18: Football season


We went to the first game of the season for South Eugene High School. You were all over it. Everywhere. It was memory lane of you and your teen age years. Coach Kevin had a moment of silence for you that was beautiful. The sun was readying to set, still strong and bright; warm but a hint of fall. The players stood in a line stretching to the goal posts. I took a picture: Long shadows cast from the players and stretching to the side lines. Quiet. Still. Reflections.

When the announcer said ‘please stand for the national anthem’, it was over. The game was on as always everywhere. In all the small towns across the country where high schools are the life blood and make it a community, a handshake from one generation to the next. In college towns across the country, across leagues, across markets. Football season is on.

The game began as it always does: Team captains from each side with the referees in the middle of the field and a coin. Heads tails kick receive. Kind of a cool box of choice and non-choice. I wish we would have talked more about your strategy when you were a team captain. How many times did the coin land how you had called? Did you want to be the kicking team or the receiving team? Why didn’t we talk about this? Why do I care? The game isn’t defined until it’s played. Then teams spell the difference in doing cool stuff, making plays that move from grudge matches defined by weight and muscle on the front line to sweeping broad passes and outside runs over and past everyone. Into an open field. Football was your game. Your passion.

I know you were more defined by your genes for the grudge match on the front line. What I didn’t know is that you and the quarterback defined the play. The center in football is like the catcher in baseball. This position helps the quarterback or pitcher define the play. The position helps spell the opportunities for a play to work, anticipates the field, gives a broad view of all the players to be set in motion. You were the handshake to the play.

And that’s what I finally get. Your life was oh so much the handshake to the play. You put the ball in the hands of others. Took a broad view of the field. Helped others make the play while you stayed in formation to see what else could be done. With each play came new potential.

I’m learning so much now and only wish we had you here to show us what it’s really all about. We miss your patience in explanation, your look of understanding, your handshake to the play.

We love you.


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