Monday, June 11, 2012

Judgement Day!

I just had a conversation with my son about what will take place tomorrow and the next few days as he tries out for the Houston Texans football team. Once I hung up the phone, I realized tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday is "Judgement Day." Everything that I have taught him about believing in himself, having confidence, poise and self-respect. Having the mental edge over others that have the same physical ability as you, but taking it a step further to have the mental capacity to see yourself achieving your dream, not just thinking about it. All the 5:00 a.m. swim practices to help build endurance. All the protein shakes and peanut butter sandwiches at night to help bulk him up for football. All the pep talks before a college game and the well wishes cards that said, "You can do it!" and "I am so proud of you!" EVERYTHING that has transpired during his athletic career from Pop Warner (basically being rejected because of his age vs. weight), to high school (where I could hear some dads in the stands saying how much my son sucked), to college (where during a discussion, one coach said, "It's not like he has the ability to play in the NFL!"), all of the trials and tribulation has led to these next few days.

How will he do? Will they like him? Will he outshine others in his same position? Will he walk the right way? Talk the right way? Show his athletic ability and agility the right way? Is he big enough? Is he fast enough? Is he strong enough?

As quickly as I thought of these questions, they left my mind just the same. Of COURSE he will do well! Doing your best is what he was taught to do! Of course he will pass Judgement Day because he has been taught how to fight through adversity, how to win people over, how to believe in yourself so others do too. He has been rejected, many times, and even told "you can't." Regardless of his circumstances and what people have said about him throughout his playing career, he has always persevered and shined in the end. He has proven many people wrong when they said he was too heavy, too tall, too slow, feet too big, and the one that still makes me scratch my head, not hungry enough. I laugh at this notion because not everyone that is hungry begs for food. Some people that are hungry learn how to fish so they are never hungry again.

So what is Judgement Day? It's an opportunity to show how much you believe in yourself, how confident you are and how well you have prepared to influence others of your belief. Judgement Day is not for the task at hand, but for displaying the blessings that GOD has bestowed upon you, and as His will, will be witnessed and received by all that are judging you. That, my friend, is Judgement Day.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Count Down To The Beat Down!

O.K., so from the title you can tell I am a TRUE football fan! The year goes by so slow when it is not football season! I can't wait for Saturday to get here! I started to do something with my son that I did when he played in High School. To make sure he knocked the living crap out of his opponent, I would wave money in the air for him to see. Twenty dollars for each tackle, fifty for each sack! Now some of you may think that's crazy, but money is a huge motivating factor, right? I mean seriously, you do better on your job or go that extra mile when you know you are going to be rewarded for the "extra effort" right? Same concept! I will be in the stands, holding my breath and waiting to hear the crackle of the offense (preferably the QB) hit the turf in agony from the monster hits I know defense will deliver! Haha! Who Dat Be Dat #47???

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"What Would His Father Do?"

Football is a funny sport, especially for young boys around the pop-warner league age because the determining factor to get accepted on a team is based on your weight and age (and of course who you know if the team is "popular"). Worse yet, it is based on a very old and out-dated weight/age charting system. Kids are simply much bigger now then they have ever been thanks to our steroid-happy chickens and cows that have plagued our society.

My son was born into a football playing family commonly known as the "First Family of Football." The six brothers that make up this family are well-known on the sports circuit, from high school to college to the pros, the Browner Brothers have made playing football a family tradition. To have a son born to a father that did all things necessary to get to the top level of this sport - to play in the NFL - is quite a feat and a long road to travel.

As a single mom raising a young boy who "wanted to be just like his father," I had to relay on my instincts and what recommendations others would give me as it related to when he should start to play a potentially dangerous contact sport like football, what position he should play, where he should play, etc. My ex and I were not in good communication when my two children were younger. There were times when I didn't even know where he lived, let alone what state he called home. My ex played in the NFL, then Canadian Football, then Arena Football. It was a bit hard to follow him; he was sort of like "Where is Waldo?" or "Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?"

Since I did not get a lot of guidance from my ex regarding our son's upbringing, I had to tap into my masculine side to figure out, "What would his father do?" Not that I could ever think like a guy, I had to do my level best to try if I wanted to do what I thought was right for my son with some sort of balance. It was a bit hard at times to do this because I was also raising a daughter. I had to be tough, yet soft, strong yet gentle, masculine, yet feminine. Sometimes all in the same day! Yep you guessed it right, at times my behavior was a bit erratic.

My son was always involved in sports. When he was five years old, I got special permission from the pool manager at the local recreation center to allow him to take swim lessons in order to be on the swim team. The pool manager hesitated, but said O.K. to my request although the rules stated all children taking lessons must be seven. My son joined his sister (who was seven at the time) in swim lessons. Low and behold, they both took to the water like fish and within 6 months had learned how to swim - well - and were placed on the swim team.

I always believed sports builds character, stamina, and teaches respect of authority if you are part of a team. That was one of the main reason why I always had both my kids in sports (oh, and according to data, youth in sports are less likely to get pregnant than other teens their age. I guess THAT should be the #1 reason! But my kids were young so that wasn't really why they were in sports).

After swim season, my son played baseball. He loves baseball, even to this day, I think he still likes pitching. He had a mean drop ball as a left-handed pitcher. After swimming he would play "Biddy-Ball" a basketball league for young kids. After basketball (and a stint with karate) came football season. Now it was time to see what this kid is made of from a strength and meanness standpoint.

I remember asking around where should my son play little league football. There was nowhere else considered after I learned about Baldwin Hills Football League. Soooo many of the local "heroes" that played at Dorsey and Crenshaw High then to Division 1 schools and even the pros got their start at Baldwin. It is rich with history and one of the most popular leagues around. It has always been my philosophy to "have the best." I always wanted the best for my kids. The best was not always the most expensive or elite; it was simply what was the best available to help us reach our goals. Baldwin Hills Football League was it.

Located near what is commonly known as (depending on who you talk to) Baldwin Hills, the Jungle, SouthCentral or the Black Beverly Hills, the team comprised of poor, middle-class or pretty well-off African-American families. From single parents to married couples to grandmas, aunts and cousins, Baldwin Hills Football League was unique in that everyone had some sort of connection to each other. All the kids knew each other and this was a close-knit group of folks.

I was excited to be a part of Baldwin. I couldn't wait to be one of the "football moms" whose son was cheered for and highly spoken of by the spectating dads and adored by the fans and little cheerleaders. However, unbeknown to me, this was the beginning of our plight and fight in the game of football.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

His Biggest Cheerleader!

There's something magical about football! I guess it's the warrior in me that gets excited when I see the soldiers in full gear run onto the field - some excited, anxious, or extraordinarily focused or noticeably calm - but all ready for battle (or at least you hope)!

As the helmeted soldiers warm up their weapons of muscular legs - some that are capable of running a 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds, some have bulging biceps that in a strange way look like rocks protruding from boulders, or some display raging emotions that make you wonder if any of these guys are actually "nice," I sit and imagine what it must be like to be in their cleats. To view your menacing opponent through a piece of headgear donned with a thin white strap that acts as a guardian angel for the brain beneath the shiny dome, I wonder if the warrior thinks of scenarios such as colliding with the opponent or getting hit with what feels like the same G force as a fighter plane? I can only imagine that the anticipation of the body-to-body contact (the war) that is bound to happen in the next three hours on the field must be exhilarating!

How amazing it must be to have no fear during the war as a defensive player to strike or pummel your opponent and knock him silly into tomorrow or as an offensive player to catch the bomb thrown by the quarterback and run past defenders who look as though they are battling a ghost. It must be even more fulfilling to know that after this particular war is over (God willing that you stay healthy and survive with minimal pain or injuries), you get the opportunity to do it over again next week.

This is football my friends! The sport that I love to watch every Fall season. Football is a sport I've been a fan of since the Rams called San Diego home and the sport that my former husband (Keith Browner) and his five brothers (Ross, Jimmy, Willard, Joey and Gerald - the "First Family of Football") played in college and/or professionally. And now my son, Keith Browner, Jr. who is a senior at the University of California, Berkeley and a member of the popular Pac-10 team more commonly known as the Cal Bears.

You may have already surmised, I'm not your ordinary football mom. I don't cringe when my son makes a tackle (I'm guilty of having paid him $20 for every tackle and $50 for each QB sack in High School) and I don't worry if he gets up slow from a tackle (my motto: if it's not broken, get up; if it's bleeding don't fret, it will coagulate in a few minutes). From the time he was five years old, Keith Browner, Jr. has successfully followed the path to his dream to becoming a High School, College and hopefully Professional football player.

He has and will continue to succeed because God is my son's biggest fan, clearing the ground for which he travels and blessing him with many talents as he becomes the warrior he was meant to be!

And me? I'm simply his Biggest Cheerleader as you can see. I'm passionate about football and intrigued by the lessons taught and learned on the gridiron, the nuances of being a football player and how society embraces the sport.

I hope you will follow my blog all about football...from a mom's perspective.