Monday, November 9, 2015

Football in Small town USA.

The funny thing about being a "Chicago guy" is where I'm from. I grew up in West Chicago, not the West Chicago that many of you know today, but the blue collar, hardworking, under respected town that it once was. Growing up in a blue collar town prepared me for life, and it's where I got my grit.

After leaving West Chicago, I landed in Batavia with Gina, Cheyenne, and my little Man Conner. Batavia is not the "jewel" of the Fox Valley, and certainly not the party town of St. Charles, nor the Glam of Geneva, but a town fitting of where I come from. Batavia is a town that works hard and has some of the best that could be offered as far as "Friday night lights"

Playoff football in this town is a big deal, but it never becomes what this town is about. It's about kids that work hard all year long, play hard and win because of their hard work. I try to explain to my kid every week that this is fun, just a game.Theres not a Friday that goes by that I don't tell him how much he means to his Mother and Me, and his sisters. This is a small piece of life that won't define him, but instead will shape and prepare him. He will look back and say "wow that was pretty bad ass".

When the aforementioned  town of West Chicago and their High School put me in their hall of fame it was Conner a 16 year old kid that I cited as my hero. How in the world does the pupil become the teacher? Allow me to explain...

It has to do with his town, Batavia. He bleeds Batavia. He lays it out every week as an undersized D-end because this town from flag football to High School taught him to work hard and play for each other, they taught him respect.

The funny thing about him is he's just like every other kid out there. This code of brotherhood is not lost on him, it's in every one of these guys, to a man people talk about "kids these days" Hell the way I see it they are way better than the "kids those days.

Batavia football is not played on a fancy field, the stadium is actually sub par. But when you factor in the parents, the fans, and the players it's as good as any in the world. That has to do with the coaches that make these kids believe. They make them understand that the sum of 11 equals 1. That there's no one component that's bigger than the colors they wear every Friday or Saturday.

A year or so ago we had a referendum in this town that asked residents to allow a bigger field, a safer playing surface, and better accoutrements for fans, It didn't pass. It wasn't even close. People complained that the cost would somehow effect their taxes and these kids simply are not worth it.

But to these kids it didn't matter.  To these coaches it could have been a letdown. But it never shows. Because when your the underdog, When others count you out, When the so called "High school football experts" (sad that there is such a thing as a critic at this level) never give your program a chance it gives you charterer. And when you have a group of coaches that make you believe that you can do great things. You do it.

Funny thing about this town and these kids is this, They could be 0-10, You would still love them for who they are, what they do, and how they do it.

I hope it's this way at every program. But I know it's not.

And someday when your choosing a town, I hope you choose as well as my family did. In my life I have had the chance to do things I never would have dreamed. Nothing in the world can make a guy happier then knowing his kid and his buddies, dare I say brothers are part of feeling that some may never know. Hopefully it will turn your kid into your hero as well.

No win or loss can diminish that, No un-passed referendum can keep a winner down. To my kid and his friends be proud you get a chance to play the game in "Small town USA"


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