Little Kid, Big Inspiration
“Get Graham, he’s in next!” I hear the coach yell over to the sideline where the group of blue clad Southington Knights stand waiting. Hearing Graham’s named be called made me become more alert, but as I watched Graham, who I had been watching carefully since the start of the game, he barely flinched at the sound of his name. That’s because since the game began, he had been waiting in the ready position. Not using his time on the sideline to joke around and chat with teammates but instead taking in every moment he was witnessing on the field. Paying attention to the game, the plays, and the coach’s feedback to other players. So when his name was called, he was ready. The play ended and Graham ran out onto the field and got into position on the line. My heartbeat started to escalate slightly and I felt my eyes sting a bit with tears. I made sure not to let Jaden, my 13 year old, see the tears in my eyes as I wasn’t in the mood for an unsympathetic eye roll, and instead, put my sunglasses on as if it was the bright sky, not my emotions, getting to me.
For some of the parents and moms on the sideline, this was one of many football games they have attended. Their kids had been playing since 2nd or 3rd grade and so it was just another start to a season. A season they were well adjusted too, a familiar game and circumstance. But for me, when Graham trotted out to the line in full gear, I had a flashback to the four year old boy that was too shy to speak throughout his first years of schooling. The boy who walked hesitantly and without confidence across his preschool graduation stage, nervous to be out in the spotlight in front of the crowd. To watch him in this moment, full of confidence as he joined the team on the field, I felt incredibly proud and inspired, moved by how far he had come.
I’m not certain whether football will be something Graham continues to love year after year, but I am positive that his drive, determination and willingness to try new things, no matter how hard, are things he will carry with him always. And as I stand on the sideline during each game, I know that he will continue to inspire me, to remind me that it’s never too late to take on new challenges and that its ok to put yourself out there, push past your fears and reservations and take a step in unfamiliar territory.
Cheers to all those who inspire us each day; Big and little.