I grew up in the Southeast US as a practically-only child of a single mom (I say “practically” because I have a sister who is 9 years older than I am, and she had moved out before I hit adolescence, so for all practical intents and purposes my upbringing was like an only child). Despite being born and raised in the Bible Belt, I never learned anything about football. I mean, I got the gist as far as touchdowns and field goals, but I knew none¬†of the rules or specifics. As I grew into adulthood, get-togethers around football games were more about food, friends, and beer to me!

Don’t get me wrong: I had tried. I learned along the way¬†that there were things called “downs” and I knew you couldn’t grab another player’s facemask, and I knew that sacking the quarterback was a good thing (if it was your team!). I had numerous male relatives (and even some female ones) try to explain the game to me. It just didn’t “click.”

 

At the ripe old age of 28, my then-husband’s friend asked us to be the “chain gang” at a local high school football game. They were always looking for volunteers! I asked my husband if he thought I could do it, and he said, “Sure, just do what I tell you to do.” Okay, sure.¬†On the night of our first football game as volunteers, I stood at least 6″ shorter than the vast majority of the high school players. Still, I donned my little yellow vest and grabbed the.. what do you call it? Signal poles. (I just looked that up) The whistle blew and the game started, and my job began. I was¬†terrified.

My husband was yelling at me, telling me where to go. If I didn’t go fast enough, a referee would yell at me. At times we had to run out onto the field to measure where the ball had been – to see if the team had gotten a¬†down. And within about 10 minutes, I learned as much as a non-athletic adult woman could know about American football.¬†It clicked.¬†By the end of that game, I could listen for myself to the plays and surmise where we were going to run. I chuckled as again and again, 200-pound high school boys pushed each other out of my way so I could get to my place on the sideline. A few times I would even shout at them. “MOVE! MOVE!”

We volunteered a few more times and I found it to be great fun. I had to stop when I became pregnant with my first child, but even then I was a regular at the local games, because I loved the marching band, the big burgers, the drums, the cheerleaders, and the crowd. It was just a fun environment. Once, I overheard a teacher or parent make a snide remark about “pregnant teens” as I walked by. I turned and put my hands on my hips. “I am THIRTY!” I shouted at her. The look on her face.. Good times!

 

Please enjoy football designs at DLB as this football season begins!