Under the bright lights, huddled in the cold and wet, wrapped up against the cold winds which tease us from around the corner, Pagosa comes out for the best night of the week.
It’s Friday night under the lights at the Golden Peaks Stadium. Our young boys suit up in their numbers. The fans wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Our little town of Pagosa files into the bleachers, with thermos bottles, extra blankets and stadium seats. Mothers nestle with all their belongings around them, fathers brag, band members tweak their instruments, and young girls without coats, in flip flops wear their boyfriend’s jerseys. None admit they are cold. Cold doesn’t come into the conversation, the excitement of the game keeps us warm.
We stand together united as citizens of this great country and place our hands on our hearts and sing our national anthem. There are tears in our eyes as we hold onto a deeper feeling of blessing. We want freedom and hope for the generations to experience what we have. We send up a prayer of thanksgiving and forget the trials of the week.
Fathers out of shape, come scruffy in their dirty work clothes. It shows they worked hard all week. They willingly take their place as family providers during the week, but for three hours on Friday night, they get to be boys again.
“Put my son in,” one yells.
Another one shouts, “Get me the cookie!”
The fathers hash over the plays among themselves, talk about the unfair calls and penalties; and they secretly think they could do better if they were in the game.
Proud moms busily tape the game in between screaming, yelling, chatting and drinking hot chocolate. At home, the tape is slipped into the DVD player and watched, stopped, talked about, watched and watched some more. The family binds together as they look at the plays one more time before they fall into bed.
My young grandson said to his mother, “I wished you could be out on the field. It’s different than being in the stands videoing it. I am looking at some guy bigger than I am, and I know I can tackle him. You can’t even imagine how it feels.”
Another grandson who enjoyed the same feeling last year is suited up in his uniform, standing on crutches on the sideline, knowing he will not have that feeling this year. His heart is breaking and his parents’ heart aches for him too. No one can help him. This is also a memory and a tough life lesson that will change him and how he looks at things.
Why do we love the game so much?
I look around and see J.P. He has supported the Pagosa kids as long as I can remember and is still rooting for the team. I remember watching David Cammack, Billy Manzanares, Randy Sorenson and Cody Ross playing. Cody rode around the track during halftime as homecoming king with Debra Holder as his queen. Today the guys are pacing the fence, watching their boys, remembering when they were the boys of fall.
Out-of-town games take more effort; parents leave early from their jobs, caravanning and carpooling. The excursion fills up with hopeful fans trucking over Wolf Creek Pass; or driving west to Dolores for two games, varsity and junior varsity. They spend the night, pile extra boys into the motel room, and talk about the game, the wins and defeats. They listen to the radio for Kenny Chesney’s song, “The Boys of Fall.”
A hush falls over their voices when K-Wolf radio plays “The Boys of Fall” one more time.
Someone comments, “That’s the way it is!” And another one says, “Yep!”
The game consumes us this time of the year. I am sure everyone has their reason.
For me, it is a time that brings me back to being young, remembering I, too, wore someone’s jersey. They sang their football song after the “win” and I hugged a tired, sweaty boyfriend who played his heart out, and I thought it was all for me.
Moms and dads want their kids to have the same memories as they had when they were in high school. Coaches are bent on building well-rounded boys who will learn how to work together as a team, wanting to build young men for a better life.
.The boys learn how to take defeat after they have played their hearts out. This is a necessary reality in life. The bus trip is a long way home. The coaches are already talking about next week’s game. The dirty, grass-stained uniforms are thrown into the washer for the next time.
Maybe this is one of the few times in a busy family when they enter into each other’s lives and rally in the glory, defeats, the grind, the injuries and the sweat.
It’s an experience none of us can really put a handle on. It moves in all of us something special. It takes old boys to the rocking chair. In the nursing home one of the grandfathers is still bragging and it is keeping him alive.
“I remember in 1945 I carried the ball in the last two seconds and made a touchdown and brought the game home.”
I guess it brings the game home for all of us in one way or another. Thanks to The Boys of Fall.
Final brushstroke: Today’s moments are tomorrow’s memories.
Send in your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. There are other boys of fall who did not grow up in Pagosa whose memories are as big as the hometown boys and you want to tell your story. Send them to us.
“Our minds become magnetized with the dominating thoughts we hold in our minds, and these magnets attract to us the forces, the people, the circumstances of life which harmonize with the nature of our dominating thoughts.” — Napoleon Hill, author.