“Get your camera.” It’s just the Dude, with a Cuteness Alert. “You gotta get this for the blog!”
So here’s our sweet Dancer, ready to hit the road. My Mom and Dad headed over the river and through the woods, to my Grandmother’s house, taking our middle three kids with them — we can’t take off till the weekend, so we’ll meet them down there.
While I had the camera out, I recorded the Diva singing a Christmas carol, and I played it tonight for Baby Boo. He kept saying her name over and over, and cried until I played it over several times.
When I called to make sure they had arrived safely, she got on the phone with him and he broke out in laughter, and started saying her name again over and over.
The Hurricanes lost the Regional Semi-finals by one point.
Here’s how intense it was. We went into the fourth quarter at 0-0. . . we scored, and thought we’d won. But the Aztecs scored in the last minute of the game. . . and we ended up in double over-time.
The Final Prayer
These boys fought their hearts out.
Coach James Bell gave the boys a great final speech. I don’t know how he did it, because everyone was so devastated. But he stepped up and reminded them what an honor it was to have come so far. And challenged them in facing defeat, to develop character.
It still hurt just as bad. But it was a great, and graceful, effort that showed real leadership.
So sadly, this week, no Breakdown. But I do have Pastor Bob’s final prayer for the team.
Thanks Coach Bell, Coach Giddy, Coach Bob, Coach Chandler, and Coach Patrick and the rest of the Hurricanes for a great season.
The Regional Semi-Finals for the Pop Warner Eastern Region are today at High Noon. The Hurricanes are squaring off against the North Philly Aztecs.
Thanks to all of you who have written with words of cheer and interest — and to the rest of you with no interest at all: thanks for humoring me.
As it turns out, the Aztecs weren’t the only ones doing a little spying on the opposition. . . .
We celebrated my birthday Thursday night by watching game tapes with 20-some rowdy ten-year-old boys. Hey, first things first!
As I was driving to drop the Dude off for the tape-watching, I told him that I’d always wanted to see game tapes and hear a coach walk through them. ‘Cause frankly, my Football for Dummies reading is only taking me so far. It still all looks like a swirl of red and black out there on the field. I’m doing well if I can follow my boy. Seeing the ball — bonus.
I got my wish. When we arrived back to pick him up, they were still going strong. They were going over last week’s cliffhanger frame by frame.
Then they capped it off with the spy tapes of the Aztecs themselves. Late into the night!
And I can’t tell you what it is . . . but we’ve got a plan, man.
When we arrived at the stadium this morning, for the 2nd round of the Regional Playoffs, competing for a berth to the Semi-Finals, my friend Sabrina (otherwise known as “Isaiah’s Mom”) whispered in my ear: “We’ve got scouts here. From Pennsylvania.”
I tried to be surreptitous as I glanced over my shoulder. Sure enough, the Aztec coaches from Philly were easy to spot holding down their own row up at the top of the stands. Sabrina’s husband, Pastor Bob, said they were taking notes and writing down numbers.
I have to remind myself that none of these coaches get paid a nickel. And last time I checked, gas prices were still around $2.35 a gallon.
Well, they certainly got a game to see. Our undefeated team, which hasn’t seen the end of a game without being in double-digits all season, found themselves headed into the fourth quarter winning by only one point. 7 to 6.
And the other team had the ball.
The Big Play: Fourth and Goal
Our coaches preach to the boys all the time: “Nobody beats us in the fourth quarter.”
But today, well, it wasn’t looking so good. All we had to do was just hang on. But the other team drove down the field and time was running out.
Finally we were facing Armageddon. FIRST down on the SEVEN YARD LINE.
My boy was out there on the defensive line. I could barely breathe. It hurt so bad to think: we weren’t going to Florida. . . no, we weren’t even going to the Regional Finals!
Fourth and goal. On the four yard line. I could hardly watch the play. I didn’t want to watch our opposition cross the goal-line. . .
#1 Martin, #3 Bob, #2 Justin, #6 Davelle
But I didn’t. They didn’t. They did not score.
Nobody beats us in the fourth quarter!
I still can’t believe it. But it’s true. The Hurricanes kept the opposition from scoring inside the red zone for (more than) four downs.
We’re headed on the road.
The Littlest Linebacker with Head Coach James Bell
In the post-game coaches’ talk, Hurricane President, Julius Weems, a former football superstar at University of Maryland, told the boys that, ultimately, they won the game with their hearts.
And let’s not forget the Cliffhanger: What will next week be like up against a team (we’re Div II brackets) whose coaches want to win badly enough to drive down here just to scout out our team? C’mon back next weekend and find out.
I hope you all had a happy halloween! We had a great time following Boo around and trying to keep him from diving at every candy bowl he saw with two hands. . .
Anyway, this post is meant to make you smile. But also: I’m looking for some advice!
I would like to have put this picture up bigger and with better resolution. But even cut down to 280 pixel width and degraded to 66% quality as a JPEG, it still has a load time of 2 seconds.
I see large, clear pictures on other sites. But I can’t find any info on how to do that and keep my load time down.
For example: look down at the post on the football championship. Those pictures had so much detail in them that they were showing load times of over 10 seconds. So that’s why they look so terrible — I had to just keep making them smaller and cutting the quality to get them anywhere near tolerable load times.
I use Macromedia’s Fireworks to edit and compress the pics. I’ve tried compressing in the Microsoft Office Picture Manager program, but don’t get any better results there.
We won!! The Laurel Hurricanes won the Maryland State Championship and will be advancing to the Regional competition next week in Pennsylvania. The goal — on to the Superbowl at Disneyworld in December!
In fact, the celebration tonight was tinged with a timeline. “I love you guys,” said Coach Bell, “but only ’till Tuesday. Then it’s back to work.” Tonight was a fantastic win, but these kids have been dreaming of — no, really working toward — making it to Florida all season long.
Though it was hard to say who was happier, the kids or the coaches tonight. They both earned it. It’s a privilege to be on this team, and really interesting to watch how these coaches have negotiated between giving each kid a pat on the back when he deserves it — and a kick in the backside when needed. . . they are ten years old after all.
We asked Coach Bell what he did to produce such winners year after year.
“Discipline,” said Bell, a former Marine. “[We] teach the boys to listen and learn on the field and listen and learn in the classroom.”
He also teaches them to win.
Laurel Hurricanes, Maryland
But teamwork starts with fun. To begin the pattern of listening and learning as a team, Coach Bell taught the boys the Hurricane’s post-game celebration chant. The Breakdown.
And here it is. Courtesy of the Dreamer, we’ve got a 0.41 second clip of the Hurricanes doin’ the Breakdown.
The score yesterday was 24-0. We’re headed to the ‘ship! As in champion-ship.
But from the coaches’ post-game fire-and-brimstone lecture, an onlooker would have thought we had lost.
A part of me wonders if they are being too hard on the boys. Another part of me remembers the gut-wrenching loss from last year. After an undefeated season, watching nine-year-old boys walk off the field in tears, the trophy eluding them.
And as I watch some of the other teams wander onto the field, while ours marches out crisply, I see that the emphasis our coaches put on discipline makes a crucial difference. Maybe the fundamental difference.
Win or lose, that’s a lesson that translates to life.
A win in this coming Saturday’s game gives us a ticket to the regional brackets. . . the prize at the end of our trek through the Eastern Region of Pennyslvania, NJ and New York, is a berth to the Pop Warner Superbowl at Disneyworld the first week in December.
The boys are talking about sunscreen; some of the parents are singing “M.I.C. . K.E.Y. . .”
8:30 at night. Practicing under the lights. The winner of Saturday’s game plays in the State Championship.
I remember vividly the day three years ago that “my baby” walked in the kitchen with his dad and announced — with such excitement: We got me signed up for tackle football.
I looked at my little will-o-the-wisp boy, and tried to share his enthusiasm. I glared at his father.
Now I’m busy studying Football for Dummies, and he’s turned into the Dude and worries about making weight.
Tonight, I went to pick him up and they were still practicing, late into the night. Coach Bell was drinking a Coke. As I stepped onto the field, heard the crunch of the pads, the surreal glow of the lights with the generator hum in the background, I felt a palpable thrill of excitement.
The state championship. In our sights.
Last year, this same team was undefeated in the regular season. Had not even been scored against. We lost in the playoffs by one touchdown.
Any Given Sunday — Any team can win. Or lose.
You can see it in the coachs’ eyes; their taut intensity: not going to happen this year.
“You just play this next game. Let us worry about the one after that.”