Thankful for Family, Friends & Football!
Thanksgiving is a very special time for families all across our great country. It is a time for reflection and thanks. It is a time to be with those who you care about most and let them know how much they mean to you. For many people it is a time filled with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and many other favorites. But for me, Thanksgiving always included something extra: Football.
Football is one of the things I have been most thankful for in my life, so it is fitting that it has been closely intertwined with this particular holiday. In seven of the past eight years, I have spent my entire Thanksgiving week gearing up for a football game. In high school, it was three times preparing for a state championship football game at Lucas Oil Stadium. In college, it was for one of the best rivalries in college football: The Old Oaken Bucket Game between Indiana and Purdue. I walked away from these collective experiences with three state championships and three wins in a row over my bitter college rival.
Even though I was lucky enough to have success in the outcomes of the games, I took away three bigger lessons from the experiences:
- Being a part of something bigger than myself
- The power of tradition
- The immeasurable impact of sports on people’s lives
You never truly know how great it is to be a part of a team until you no longer have that privilege. All great things must come to an end of course, but my Thanksgiving football traditions taught me to make the most of the time I did have with certain people. In high school, it meant we were playing in the state finals. It meant that we had earned the privilege to be together as a team for a longer period of time than our opponents. In my last year of college, it was to earn a bowl berth. An entire extra month with my football family. More time to create memories and friendships extending far beyond the football field.
These football experiences became traditions in my family’s household after a few years, but before that they were more of a disruption to our typical plan. Instead of just worrying about eating as much as humanly possible, we had to think about practicing and preparing for the opponent. In college, I had the pleasure of bringing teammates home to Indianapolis since they weren’t able to make a much longer trip home to see their own families. It taught me that while Thanksgiving is definitely a time for family, everyone that you consider to be family does not have to be blood.
Lastly, I was lucky to be a part of organizations that gave me the opportunity to affect other’s lives and make them thankful too. At Cathedral and IU, I played for schools with an incredible number of invested and passionate students, alumni, parents and fans. My preparation and further more, my play on the field, brought something else for fans to be excited about. Whether it was a state championship, a bowl berth, or another year long stay in Bloomington for the Old Oaken Bucket, it brought us all something to be united around and thankful for.
I’m thankful for this holiday, the families I’ve been able to share it with, the traditions I was able to uphold, and the fans and alumni I was hopefully able to impact.