Early in the morning in the heavy rain, while the other team was snapping pictures and scarfing down breakfast, we were hard at work practicing our special play: and now had come time to execute.
It was 2nd and ten and five minutes remained in the first half. We needed a score and knew just the play to call. With no score in the game, and our team scoreless all season, it was time to punch one across the goal line.
Coach Arnold screamed, “that’s the wrong ball!” Our quarterback looked angry and asked for the correct ball, our center casually passed the incorrect ball to the quarterback, and she jogged to the sideline with the ‘wrong ball’ in hand.
At this point, the defense was standing flat footed and waited for us to get our act together. When she got within feet of the sideline Coach Arnold yelled again: “You’re in eighth grade!”
That was her cue: she took off and ran for the end zone. The confused defense stood still as she darted towards the end zone. Our hard work payed off; the play was ran perfectly and we took the lead 6-0. Our athletes were elated, we were elated: life was good.
Coaching our flag football team was an awesome experience this year. The kids grew so much in our short two month season.
We must admit that it wasn’t always easy. Many of our athletes had never been on a sports team or been expected to attend regular practices before. Almost no one on our team had any football experience at all, so just learning the basic rules to football was challenging- let alone competing against other schools.
Every Tuesday and Thursday we practiced and improved, and by the end of the year, we were signaling plays from the sideline and able to audible out of plays that didn’t work.
Our players came to practice and were proud of how hard they worked. Students identified themselves as part of the team. They were proud; we were proud. When one student was asked what he was most proud about in his life he exclaimed, “making and playing on the football team.”
Jeff Arnold and Jake Beaman, Corps Members CYSJ