The call will come this Saturday before 11 am. Big Papa Hanson will be on the other line calling from home with the latest score. And hopefully, it will be another win for our 8-1 Lake Mary Rams over the Lake Brantley Patriots.
If you’re not from Texas or Lake Mary, Fla., then you probably don’t care about your high school football team’s performance this fall. You know who you are. The ones that make comments like, “Why did you bring your high school yearbook with you? You are in college now,” and “I am closer to my college friends than my high school buddies; my college friends really know me.”
I did not spend 14 years in Lake Mary, Fla., to leave for college and forget my past. I will continue to drag around my 20-pound yearbook from senior year with the signatures of my 67 closest friends, thank you.
I will continue to talk to high school friends, to dream of Saturday nights at Steak-n-Shake, and most importantly, to cherish Lake Mary High School football.
No one ever went to the games just to watch football. We went to be seen, to play on the sideline, to cheer in the sultry night air. From birth to graduation, Friday night meant Lake Mary Rams football.
These were times for the entire town to come together and cheer 60 young men to victory. The spectators didn’t come to watch quarterback sneaks but to witness “our boys” take on the rest of Florida. It was about Lake Mary pride.
In the 1980s, these summertime, late-night affairs were a time for me to mimic the football players and for my sister to copy the cheerleaders. We re-enacted the game on the sidelines, all hoping to slap hands with the star quarterback. Our babysitter, Tanya, was head cheerleader and would lift us into the air. Everyone had dreams of one day wearing the red, black and white uniform.
These men, ranging in age from 15 to 18, were our heroes. We tossed their names around like they were in the NFL. “You only wish you were as good as Bryant!”
During middle school, we abandoned our parents. We hung out by the concession stands, in our own “too-cool-for-school” group. We rejected the little kids romping on the sidelines, and we were deemed too young to hang out with the high school students. In our middle school angst, we thought the world revolved around us as we wore baggy pants three sizes too big.
Freshman year was a disappointment; our Rams went winless for the first time. For a town that prided itself on stellar academics and amazing athletics, this was unacceptable. Half of the high school students were already at weekend parties by halftime.
Yet, sophomore year erased all memories of last year’s disastrous campaign. With the high school band playing a Beatles medley at halftime, the boys of Lake Mary rolled to a winning record. By junior year, we were in the Sweet 16 of the state playoffs.
I might no longer be in the stands every weekend, but my parents continue to attend the Friday night games. Parents whose last child graduated from Lake Mary 11 years ago still cheer for the Rams. Kids are running along the sidelines, the pre-teens pretend to be living in a world of there own, the high school students socialize and discuss the latest gossip and the adults of the town take in the entire spectacle. They watch the town grow up from the football stands.
Children that once passed the pigskin when they were 5, now score the winning touchdown. All of Lake Mary’s children are here as players, band members, cheerleaders, announcers, sports writers and spectators. And maybe, if the Rams are still in the playoffs come Thanksgiving break, I’ll be able to join my parents in the stands one more time.