Flashback Friday: How Football Changed My Life

With the Super Bowl coming up this weekend, I figured this post would be suitable.  I’m not a Broncos fan or a Panthers fan so I don’t have a preference on who I want to win. Honestly, I don’t really care who wins. I’m not here to write about those teams. I’m here to write about the Air Force Falcons. You may have heard of them but most likely, not the same team. The team that changed my entire outlook on Football and turned me into a die hard football fan. The team that taught me how to be a team player. The team that completely changed my life, and here’s how.

The Beginning (Season 1)

October 2011, a few months of living in Hawaii and knowing no one, I got wind of an opportunity to play women’s flag football. At first, I was skeptical. I mean, I knew NOTHING about football. I only ever rooted for The Philadelphia Eagles because I’m a PA girl and that’s a family favorite. Also, aside from not knowing anything, I was shy. I was never the type of person to just show up somewhere, by myself, and be like “Hey, I’m here!”. After thinking it through I figured it would be a perfect opportunity to meet new people and, possibly, gain some friendships. So, off I went to my first football practice. Scared shitless is putting it lightly. “Can I even catch a football?!” “Wait… can I throw one?!” “Do I need to?!” “Maybe I’ll be their water girl?” Ugh. The thoughts just kept running through my head as I pulled into the parking lot. I walked up, introduced myself, and literally just got thrown into practice. The first game was that weekend and I decided that would be the ultimate test if I was really into it or not. Turns out, it was the perfect fit for me. Season 1 was an excitement for me, as well as a let down. I ended up getting injured in our last game before playoffs, which I will get to that in a few.

 

The Middle (Season 1 into Season 2)

Somewhere along the way in that first season, we had experienced a coach walking out on us. A coach that literally just up and left us to fend for ourselves. In the middle of our damn season. It was a rough time trying to find another coach to be willing to pick up in the middle of everything. Then comes Coach George. I can’t put my finger on exactly how he came along but THANK GOD! He kicked our asses and that was the coach that we needed. Coach Nick and Coach Kenny had also come in along the way too! We were a brand new team trying to get the hang of being a team and working together. Of course, it was a little too late by the time he came but we gave our all in playoffs. I, of course, couldn’t participate in playoffs. Here’s why. I have mentioned that I signed up for FLAG football, correct?! Just making that clear. In our last game before playoffs, I had been running for a touchdown, when all of a sudden, I got tackled. Tackled and pushed out of bounds. I came crashing down and put my hands down in front of me. Not sure how it happened but I got 1 fucked up pinky out of that. So, thanks to that one chic for completely ruining my hand, I am now stuck with a crooked pinky! I was out for awhile but that didn’t keep me away from my team.

I attended every practice after because I was hooked. I was attached to all my teammates and knew that nothing could keep me from this addicting sport. After I was eventually cleared (which I was never in the clear), I began playing again. It took a bit to get used to my finger being bent every single second for the rest of my upcoming life. We had teammates leave and decide not to play anymore. So, on to recruiting and spreading the word. Anyone military affiliated could play. We had a mixed team of active duty and spouses. By the time Season 2 had come around, we had almost a brand new team and it became unbreakable. The camaraderie is unexplainable. We were all attached to each other, on and off the field.  At one point, we had a team meeting to take votes on Captains. We needed leaders to make decisions. Also to decide on uniforms. In the mix of things, I was voted one of the Captains. ME! It really blind-sided me but hell fucking yes, I’ll take it! The team colors were between Navy and Pink. Clearly, you can see the most popular voted color!

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We were undefeated. We were number freaking 1! Playoffs were always where we fell short. The Navy and Us were always fighting for that number 1 spot. I can’t even tell you how heartbreaking it was to be undefeated all season and then play in playoffs and come in 2nd. This team though… they were my family. On and off the field we were always together! We had a sisterhood. We had a blast off the field but when we stepped on that field, we were there to win!

Season 2 was the best season for me, all around. Let me throw in that this is how I met my wife! 😉 Season 2 was OUR best season. We were a deep knit team. I’m sure the other teams were jealous of how well we played as a team and got along with each other. Being a captain was such a high for me. I was constantly trying to cheer for my team and keep everything put together. I hope I did a good job at it. Whether I did well or not, I was damn proud of my team! I was proud to be a part of this team. Season 2 was one of the best times of my life!

 

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Clearly proud of my team! 😉

Season 3 (The end…)

My final season. Not that I wanted it to be the end but I was leaving Hawaii. We had lost a lot of teammates again. Either they chose to retire or the dreadful PCS. I continued as captain for the remaining of my career. In the midst of training for Season 3, I got injured again. This time at practice. She’s going to kill me for this but my wife did it! 😉 She was our new QB and threw me a pass that was a little high, I jumped to catch it, and the ball nicked the top of my pinky. OF MY OTHER HAND. I really have bad luck with pinkies. I sat out a few games but it was time to play the last game my wife would be playing in. I needed to play with her, one more time, before she left for NJ to get us settled. I wrapped the shit out of my hand and played the second half! We walked away with another win under our belt but after that game, it was never the same.

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It just felt… off. I wasn’t playing with many of my teammates from season 2 and it really didn’t feel right. It was time to throw in the towel. The saddest part about it was not knowing if I would ever get to play football again. Not knowing if I would find teammates that would do anything for you. To find anything that made me feel so alive and involved. Flag Football has changed my life. Flag Football will always hold a special place in my heart and so will all of my (old) teammates. The bond that we will always share is what makes everything worth it.

 

 

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