Goodbye football, hello basketball

By Maggie Nixon
Another season is upon us. No, not spring, summer, fall, winter and some other newly designated season — although it would be a four-letter word if there was one (RAIN); I’m talking sports here.
While Notre Dame (are there any other college teams, anyway?) and the NFL (yes, I admit to being a Bears fan) are in the midst of their seasons, it saddens me to report my boys have moved on from football to basketball. Don’t get all huffy basketball fans and coaches — it just takes me a few weeks to embrace your sport. I think basketball and I think of cold and snow, and I’ve barely let go of the fact that it’s not still 70 degrees outside.
This weekend, youth Rockies football finishes up, and Zephan and Benji have already been attending basketball try-outs this week at Jefferson and Riverside.
Elijah is hitting the basketball workouts but Nate is still undecided about his winter plans (hey, Leanne, I think it’s time for swimming finally!). He did say that he’d like to spend it volunteering community service, so any not-for-profits out there needing a junior high-aged child for some dedicated work, hit me up.
I have to admit I was a proud momma when Elijah played for the JV team its last game. Through the entire football season, he never complained about two-a-days or long practices, playing in the freezing rain, getting cleated in the ribs, or all those bruises he (proudly) showed every Friday after a freshman game. He has loved football since he was 8 years old, and I owe that in part to the awesome coaches he had instilling that love in him — mostly Joe McKee.
On a recent trip out to eat dinner, my boys were talking about all the plays that Joe taught them over the years. One favorite was the “Statue of Liberty” and another was the “Dog Pound.” I can’t give away a coach’s secret plays, but let’s just say that as well as teaching the kids how to play, he has always taught them to enjoy it, too, whether or not that included a bunch of boys in position for the snap barking their heads off and howling at the moon.
Nate’s seventh grade team finished the season 9-2. They were undefeated at 8-0 at one point. Great job, Red Storm!
Benji, following in Elijah and Nate’s footsteps, is a Chief for Joe now, and plays his last game with the youth league today. Next year, I’ll have Nate and Benji both in the junior high while Zephan will move up to the upper league in youth football, and Elijah will be a sophomore.
How did that all happen so fast? I guess it’s time to embrace how quickly they’re growing up, all while embracing this new season upon us.