The end is too sudden

October 27, 2008

by Aaron Schultz

Doesn’t it seem just like yesterday when the local football teams were gearing up for the start of two-a-day practice this summer?

It does to me.

And now, one team is done, and another might be done depending on how they did Saturday. It just seems unreal.

That is how it goes, though. One minute you’re a freshman on the high school football team, and the next thing you know, your football career is over.

Sure, a handful of seniors from Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity and Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted may go on to play college football – but it won’t be many.

For most of the seniors on the Lakers and Bulldogs squads, their last high school football game will be the last time they ever put the pads on and step on the grid iron.

Football is unlike any other high school sport.

First, it is the most popular, drawing the most fans and having the largest number of participants.

Secondly, you play fewer games per season than you do in any other sport.

Lastly, football is the least likely sport to see kids, now adults, keep playing.

Whether it be amateur baseball, co-rec volleyball leagues, or Wednesday night basketball at a local gym, the majority of the other sports we play in high school we get to keep playing.

Maybe not at the same competitive level, or extended period of time, but if you have a passion for a particular sport after high school, in all likelihood you can keep playing it at some level.

That is not necessarily the case for football.

Now, before you start sending me e-mails, I know there is some semipro football out there for those of you that would like to continue playing football, but it isn’t wide spread.

And just because there is a semipro team out there, it doesn’t mean you could, or should keep playing.

Football, of all the sports, is the most physically demanding on the body, and most of our bodies just can’t hold up without being in proper condition.

Yes, I don’t want to forget about long distance running, which is a very physically demanding sport, but you probably can’t break an arm running a marathon.

In football, that is a real possibility.

So, for most of those senior football players, their last high school football game is their last football game, period.

At Maple Lake Tuesday, watching the Lakers fall to the Irish in section play, I could see the emotion, especially from the seniors, towards the end of the game.

Just from the body language, I could tell that it was sinking in, especially when the game looked like it was out of reach.

As for the Bulldogs, if they didn’t win Saturday against Royalton, that same emotion will certainly be evident.

Looking back, over 10 years ago now, I still remember clearly my last high school football game.

We (Lester Prairie Bulldogs) fell to Braham in the section semifinals, and the emotion was there.

No, I didn’t cry like some of my fellow seniors, but I clearly remember being very sad.

Unlike baseball, which I knew I would keep on playing, football was over for me when our high school season was over.

As the second half went on at Braham, and it became clear we weren’t going to win the game, I can remember a sadness come over me.

I just wanted to take it all in. The fans cheering, my teammates in the huddle, the final handshake after the game, and then the bus ride home.

There is nothing like being a part of a high school football team, and when it is over, it is hard to describe.

To all the Bulldog and Laker senior football players this year, just remember to look back and enjoy your season, because you’ll never get that same kind of experience again.

Of course, I hope the LP/HT seniors will get to wait a few more weeks before they have to experience their final game.