I bawled like a blubbering baby when I first heard this song. What a gripping piece of music for all in the football nation. A dear friend of mine said she cried too, and doesn’t “know a hike from a hut!” I think you’d nearly have to be heart-dead without a pulse not to have some emotion shuffling through your core as the lyrics tantalize tidbits of nostalgia. Country crooners can always wet the eyes of the steeliest of hearts; however, Kenny Chesney took it to a whole new level. He encapsulated the purity of the spirit in football with his song, but he seared the soul with its flavor.
I dedicate this post to my fellow classmates of Buckhead Academy, who went 10-0 the first year our school ever had a football team (Go class of ’72!) and to my grandson, who at age 7 is entering his first pee-wee football season. Go Bryson II!!! May the tradition thrive!
Football is steeped in tradition, with passionate players, frenzied fans, and crazy coaches willing to do almost anything, go anywhere, and lay it all out for their teams. The madness surrounding the sport is hard to express in one simple statement. Football is such a menagerie of emotions and lessons learned. These emotions along with their lessons, however, can symbolize how you view life or react to it.
I’ve always believed that the past affects the present. What you do or don’t do, who you hang with or how you seize opportunities, even those of the smallest kind, will affect you in ways that you might have never imagined. High school football can be one of those vehicles that contribute to and characterize who you are at the core. Winning or losing seasons can very well personify a way of life for your furture. It has been said that some of the greater lessons are those when losing. Of course, winning is a lot more fun!
Our Buckhead Bucks literally had nothing. Not even a football field to call their own. My dad and a small crew of two or three, led by Mr. Ed Alsobrooks, mounted lights on poles on a torn-up, rundown field in town, just hours before we kicked off our first game. My mother finished stitching the last sleeve of my cheerleading uniform in the wee hours that Friday morning, so I could proudly wear it to school. We didn’t have a formal pep rally to send our boys off raht-proper-like for that first game, but honey, you’d’ve never known it. We were so late in assembling a football team that we didn’t get registered in time with the state under the ‘independent schools’ sports section. That meant we would not be allowed to compete on the state level for a championship play-off. But who in the world, in that fall of 1971, gave us a gnat’s chance of winning any game?
Understand, we had nothing. But in reality, we had more than nothing! What we did have was the intangible! That undeniable, deep-rooted, pure as the driven snow, emotionally packed, triumphal spirit that cannot be taught, cannot be duplicated, and cannot be produced, no matter how hard any coach anywhere could muster the effort!
Call it lightning in a bottle, magic or fairy tales, it’s the one thing all schools everywhere should experience at least once in their lives. Indeed, football history is loaded with plenty of heroes and teams that beat the odds. But our little school in South Georgia, located down a dusty dirt road, outside of town, smack-dab in the middle of nowhere, nonetheless went down in state history books! Not because of talent, not because of great coaching, and sadly, not because of the cheerleaders, but because of the intangible spirit within the hearts of every member of our student body!
Our itty-bitty school broke a long-standing record, going 10-0 in its inaugural football season. That made us the first football program in Georgia high school history to go undefeated the first year of playing the game! We came home the champions time and time again that special year and the record still stands.
It was a privilege to be part of it all, and I may be the only senior past or present who didn’t want to graduate—but oh honey, what a year! What an awesome tradition. And the legacy is passed on. It spilt over to my sons’ lives as well. Now, my grandson. That little team brought me through some amazing obstacles in life. That never quit, never die attitude strengthened my soul at times when I needed that extra push when all I wanted to do was give up.
Auspicious experiences in life have a way of leaving lasting impressions on one’s psyche, impressions which can supply steadfast tenaciousness as those lessons are passed on to future generations. It’s hard to fight back those butterflies, every time I think of a cheer, a score or the crowd roaring to their feet on that ole field. All I want to do is celebrate with the Buckhead Bucks once more! So, what do I do? I write about football from a mama’s heart who has passed on that winning legacy.
And, to all those football teams of today—dang-straight! Folks do indeed live vicariously through you. I am one of them!