It’s finally here! Although the outside temperature argues for summer, your school spirit knows it’s fall. Tonight you’ve chosen shorts and flip-flops, but soon it will be flannel shirts, pants, and your favorite boots. Your cap echoes your team pride, and your favorite cup sports the familiar combination of your school’s mascot and colors. You’re home again – It’s high school football time!
You didn’t think 5 p.m. would ever come on Friday. You run home long enough to load up your family and point your car toward the field. The deep orange sun has begun its slow dip behind the horizon, and the first stars have turned on their lights, but the lights you’re ready for are closer and brighter. The stadium floodlights will focus their energy on the buzz around the brown leather ball that brings everyone together year after year.
The new season brings fresh opportunities for a championship year, and the anticipation continues building as you get out of your car. Stadium seats in hand, you stroll toward the ticket booth, expecting to see your former teacher. You’re not disappointed as you gladly hand over the cost for the priceless experience of community, teamwork, and nostalgia.
The stop at the concession stand on the way to your seat yields fan food that never gets old. At the grill nearby, conversation and laughter penetrate the billowing smoke. There’s something for everyone. Nachos smothered in yellow cheese topped with jalapenos; the hot dog with relish and the works; and the cheeseburger that caused you to think twice before you loaded it with onions. Cold drinks, hot drinks, and hydrating drinks are all options.
Familiar faces on the field mingle with new ones. Will it be the winning combination? How long will it take to fall into a new rhythm, to design the surprising play that never fails to catch our opponent off guard?
It’s good to be back and climb to your usual spot in the stands. Across the field, the visiting team is filing in, and their band is warming up. Students, still pumped up from today’s pep rally and by the cheerleaders on the sidelines, dart up and down the stands spreading their attention among clusters of classmates, filling their usual section of the grandstands. Some are pairing up for the first time, while other couples have stayed together over the summer. The excitement surrounding rebooting classes and routines spills over and adds its melodies to the pulse of the drum section in the band behind them.
Soon, everyone’s attention shifts to the field. The cheerleaders have formed the lane through which suited-up players will run, bursting through the paper banner boasting school pride. It’s finally time for real action. All the hours of practice in the relentless summer heat have been for this moment.
The scoreboard clock ticks down to the national anthem and prayer for a safe game. Silence falls over the place, hats are removed, and reverence for the moment is recognized. In the quiet, before the hard-hitting action begins, your heart races under your hand that’s held over your heart as your eyes find the red, white, and blue waving behind the field goal. A coin toss, a decision for kicking or receiving is announced, and it’s on!
Friday night lights is back! GN