Monday, August 27, 2012

Go Quakers! Greeley Football 2012!!

Below is a copy of a letter I sent to the Editor of NewCastleNOW:

To the Editor:

I want to thank you for printing the story, Monday Night Lights - An Invitation to see the Quakers Practice on Rec Field”.  I write wearing many hats.  Most prominently, I am a School Board Member and I am the father of both a Varsity (and a JV) football player.

I am writing to encourage the entire community to come out tonight from 6:00 to 8:00pm to watch the football team prepare for its season.  As both a father and Board Member I cannot express well enough how proud I am of this team and these players.  Regardless of their won-loss record this year, these boys have already proven themselves winners.  They have overcome adversity, uncertainty and forced change.

While the football program has been under scrutiny recently, most members of the community and district are not aware when the football program is spoken about what being part of the program really means.  Coach Tribou taught so much to these boys.  Many of those lessons were about football, about being in shape and being prepared.  However, he taught these boys so much more than the X’s and O’s of football. 

Above all else, he taught these boys about teamwork, about supporting each other, about honor, integrity, duty and love.  Imagine my surprise listening to my first Tribou speech at the strongman a few years ago when all he talked about was family, honoring your parents, loving your teammate and respecting your teachers.  20 minutes of Billy ranting and raving and not one thing was said about football.  Bill Tribou had a knack for taking students disengaged with school, screwing up in life or simply directionless and giving them focus and motivation to make the most of themselves, to respect themselves and appreciate themselves.  While many may quibble with his methods, none can question his intent.

Football, unlike many sports here at Greeley is a year round commitment.  As it turns out, it is a parental commitment too.  Twice a week, all winter and spring long, the boys work on strength and conditioning in the Greeley weight room.  At 6:30am.  The attendance rate is over 95% every Wednesday and Friday.  And, since offseason workouts consist of Juniors, Sophomores and Freshman, none of them have permission to drive to school; a parent is dropping these boys off at 6:20am twice a week.  During the season, there are walkthrough meals to contribute to, ice packs to be administered, post game meals and the unspoken worst part of being a football parent, the rides from practice or games with some of the smelliest equipment and bodies you will ever encounter.  If you see a car with its windows down in 40 degree fall weather leaving Greeley, you know why.

Since April, they have dealt with the uncertainty of who would be coaching this year.  That was not resolved until this summer.  We welcome Tim Sullivan, Greeley grad, longtime assistant coach, Yorktown High guidance counselor and Chappaqua business owner (Quaker Hill).  While Tim is obviously his own man, he takes the same holistic approach to the team as Coach Tribou.  He and his staff have already built a rapport with the players.

It fell to the captains, Teddy Graves, Cory Ekstrom, Brent LoBien and Billy Marino to lead and motivate the players through the spring.  They stepped up big time.  They kept the team informed of the latest updates all spring.  They lead by example in the weight room.  They helped plan for the coming season.  They passed their football knowledge down to the underclassmen.  What most people, even other football parents don’t know is that being the parent of a captain is a HUGE commitment as well.

A special thanks to the Graves, the Ekstroms, the LoBiens and the Marinos who have stepped up and taken the lead.  I thank them for their polite yet determined advocacy with the administration on behalf of the boys, with their generosity in time and resources, and in their unwavering commitment to the team.  Incredibly enough, each captain’s parents are given a 5” thick binder of how to support the team throughout the year.  They organize the spring Strongman competition non-football activities, the preseason dinner, the post game meals, the walkthru dinners, the game day merchandise sales, the preseason dinner, the merchandise orders, they coordinate with the coaches, etc.  The list goes on and on.  Thank you!

The boys are two weeks away from their first game at Brewster on September 7th.  So far they have dealt with losing a beloved coach, getting used to a new coach, being told that there was not going to be a trip to camp this year, and with repeated changes to what was years of routine. Almost weekly they were told something else is changing.

For the last week and a half they have come together, twice a day, once at 7:30 - 9:30 and again from 11:30 to 2:00, to put all the bs aside and play some football.  I had the pleasure of watching two practices so far and I am happy to report they are focused and determined to have a successful season. 

Come out tonight and watch them practice.  There will be hot dogs, drinks and other food items available.  The team is hoping this will become a yearly tradition.  Its intent is to give back to the youth football program (ably led by Pete Zimmerman, Greeley grad and owner of EZ Sports) so many of them started in, and to create a family event for the entire community.  Bring the entire family. 

Come see how 40 high school boys can overcome, ignore and put aside all the politics, limitations and changes imposed on them by us adults and work toward their common goal of being great teammates and a successful football team.