Rookie Mistake

A few weeks ago a friend invited me to her Annual Lasagna Party. She had been sharing stories about this “party” with me for about a year now and I could tell she absolutely loved it. Still not feeling much like socializing these days, I had a plethora of excuses in my hip pocket at the ready. That is until another neighbor gently nudged me enough that I put on some public clothes and ventured out for a glass of “friendly” wine and some dinner too!

As the host poured what felt like an “Olivia Pope” glass of red wine I wondered if he thought I looked like I needed it. Regardless, I settled in and chatted with the other people in the room. It wasn’t long before I realized I was attending a party filled with people who had a past in common. “Rookie mistake” I mumbled to myself as I gulped down some wine. As their kids filed in one by one my heart sank. I was amongst families who grew up together in this neighborhood we now call home. These “kids” who were home from college all attended pre-school together. There were jokes only they understood. There were references that slipped by me, but I smiled nonetheless. When I tell you these people are awesome—well, that’s an understatement. They were friendly, inclusive and kind. They shared stories of the past with me that made me laugh but at the same time made me want to cry. It was never their intention to make me feel like an outsider, but alas, that is what my heart felt.

As life tends to happens for me, I am lobbed a situation to help me re-evaluate. The chance to carefully ponder my gut thoughts. This lob has me rethinking how our football life keeps each of us always wondering about our future. The notion that we are never really certain when we will be packing up for a new place to call home. The realization that when our kids come home from college they do not have their childhood friends to reminisce with. There is the chance our family may always feel like we are on the outside looking in.

Yet here is the silver lining. This life has handed our family some of the best experiences and most wonderful opportunities. To date our history incorporates six states, two time zones, nine places we call home and seven teams we’ve loved. We have the most wonderful friends scattered across much of the USA. There is more than one neighborhood we can go back to visit and feel right at home. Our food palette is so broad that we admit to being food snobs! Let’s not forget about all the amazing football games and consequent playoffs and Bowl trips we have attended, appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed! Oh yeah, and then there were the back-to-back national championships!

I know life is all about trade offs and this particular one seems much clearer for me now. Our family may not gather each January for lasagna, but every game we play seems to have a friend or two lurking on the opponents sidelines. This is where football families meet up and reminisce. While others look on and wonder how opponents can hug it out before a game, we share history. Football families stretch across state borders. This bond survives time zones, miles, years and yes -- rivalries too. One group of family football children display their understanding of this golden rule by asking their Mom this question before they watch a football game on television, “Mom, do we have friends on either team?” Then they determine who they plan to root for.

 The Judge Family children determine who they root for based on friendships!

The Judge Family children determine who they root for based on friendships!

Moral: Sometimes the closest friends you have are the ones that are farthest from you.

A little thing I know: Our hearts are filled with dear friends from all the places we have coached scattered across the USA like confetti after a win. We treasure these friendships, think of them fondly but don’t always speak or see each other. But when we do it is like no time has passed by. Football friends for life!

 Jake and Jerret have been friends for 12 years and now are Sigma Nu fraternity brothers at The University of Alabama!

Jake and Jerret have been friends for 12 years and now are Sigma Nu fraternity brothers at The University of Alabama!

Madi & Ward! Football coaches kids taking care of other football coaches kids...happening all the time!