This past Saturday was my last day at football out here in the Yay. I’ve loved, absolutely loved going to football each week.
The Legend brought me along about 10 months ago or so. He knew I’d been wanting to play. I’d never actually played football before, other than middle school gym class – which was incredibly intimidating as a future NFL quarterback was in my gym class. - But I’d really wanted to try playing because I was having such a hard time finding football fans out here. I figured people who play football were likely to be fans.
Not only did I find football fans, I found an amazing group of people who were welcoming to anyone who showed up. As long as you were willing to get on that field and try, you could play. No one asked “so, where are you from?” or “what do you do?” like they did at every other Bay Area meeting, group or event I’d been to (aside from church). I felt so happy; I didn’t feel like an outsider.
The group changes every week. It’s whoever shows up for some amount of time between 1pm and sundown, even though we rarely actually start playing until well after 2pm. Some weeks, we have one game at a time with teams of 5 or 6. Other weeks, we have two games at the same time with teams of 7 and several subs. Often, the number of games and sizes of teams fluctuates through-out the afternoon as people come and go. That only adds to the welcoming atmosphere. Come for as long as you can, even if it’s only 30 minutes.
This week was extra special. I arrived shortly after 1 and stayed all afternoon until we didn’t have enough people remaining to keep playing. It was after 8pm by the time I walked off the Berkeley high school campus. Several of the other players declared that since it was my last day, I didn’t have to rotate out if I didn’t want to, so I played most of the day. (People sometimes argue about rotating out, so I usually volunteer to go to the sidelines so others can play.)
My team insisted I try quarterbacking. “This is ridiculous,” I insisted back. Our team of 8 players had 4 or 5 decent quarterbacks. The other team had one, The Legend, who’s usually only a fill-in QB. They kept urging me to give it a try. “I can’t throw.” “Just one drive.” That one drive turned out to be one play. We scored!
- I better not try playing QB ever again; I’ll ruin my 100% completion record. ;) -
There was also more extra fun. One of our usual quarterbacks brought her camera and herded everyone together for a group photo so that I could have a picture of everyone. That was quite the task! And, in addition to the photo, I got the sweetest present ever. Another one of the usual quarterbacks got a small autograph football; everyone wrote little messages and signed it. Absolutely perfect present. I felt so special.
I am really going to miss this group, and playing football.
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