As I sit here writing it is the eve of another Wilson High School football season. Three a days in the brutal heat of August are over, game plans have been committed to memory, helmets are polished, and the red & white uniforms (clean for now) are ready to be donned.
With their heartbreaking title loss at Hershey last December (to Central Dauphin who one game later would be crowned state champs) in the rear view mirror, expectations are high for what this new year may bring. Players and coaches, their family and friends, are all hoping for another successful season.
My husband is perhaps the biggest Bulldog fan EVER. Seriously. He never misses a game, whether it's being played in hurricane like conditions or frigid cold temperatures, and is a regular fixture in the bleachers at camp and practices.
Chris has said repeatedly through the years that he would rather see these kids win a state championship than to have the Eagles, Phillies, and 76ers all win their respective world titles.When people take notice of Chris at games, both home and far away, he is often asked "Which one is your son?" His reply? "All of them."
He is an alumnus of Wilson and even played himself for awhile ,"Back in the day," but it was a promise made to a dying friend in 2000, that rekindled his passion for their program.
The tale was a tragic one that took a young man's life too soon, and left his widow with six children to raise on her own. Chris vowed he would be there to provide moral support, however he could. Once a month he would take all six out to dinner and he'd call to check in on them, but the biggest part was attending the kids athletic events so they'd always have someone there watching them.
Along the way he got to know a few other kids on the team and their stories as well. This past June the youngest son graduated and while Chris could have been relieved of his "duties" he has decided to stick around. Other players, in turns out, were in need of mentoring and when someone seeks him out (as they have) my husband is not the kind of person to turn them away.
Whether it's listening to concerns, patting someone on the back who's done a great job, giving advice above and beyond football, or passing out his famous homemade beef jerky after games, Chris supports the entire team.
There are a lot of "haters" when it comes to Wilson. They repeatedly win district titles and it's easy to dislike the ones on top. But what many people in our area don't realize is that this winning team has had it's share of underdogs on it.
Kids who weren't born with silver spoons in their mouths or solid families to be there to support them. Kids who even with the odds stacked against them, found the drive and determination to overcome adversity, both on and of the field. Kids who through the discipline of football have found themselves.
It's amazing to watch the Bulldogs' journey. Whether it's the sweetness of victory, or bitter taste of defeat, their character shines through. They are all stand up young men who play together as one team and one family. I'm proud of my husband and his small contribution to Wilson football and happy to be along for the ride.