I write a lot about football... and what it means to me. Being a part of football, especially with the program at Central Catholic High School has had a huge impact on me and my family and will forever be in my heart as one of the greatest experiences of my life. The life lessons learned from the game of football and being a part of a team have had a tremendous impact on my children and I credit much of their success to the game they love so much.
Of course, if I'm going to be honest... it's not all a bed of roses. Anytime you get that many passionate (or non-passionate) people together, there is bound to be some personality differences and conflicts. We've experienced our share. One thing I know for sure... the friendships we've forged with the exceptional families and coaches over the years will last our lifetime. We are bonded together with a common goal... and adversity only makes those bonds stronger.
On most Friday nights, after the games... we get together for dinner. For me, it combines two of my favorite things... feeding people, and football. This tradition started three years ago when Roger Canepa took the head varsity coach position at Central Catholic. He was making the long drive back home to Sonora on Friday nights after our games. I invited him to use our guest room during the season, and figured I'd have something for them to eat after the games as well. Then the dinner invitations went out and before we knew it... we had set up a tradition and like clock work... the coaching staff, and at that time... several players would show up for dinner. We've had as many as 50 people and as few as 5... but they continue to come and there is always enough to go around. We pull out as many chair as we need and somehow, we all manage to squeeze in around our dining room table. Sometimes, everyone is gone 1:00.... and sometimes they don't leave until 5:30 on Saturday morning. If any manage to just stay the night I'll fix breakfast for them before they leave.
Last year, one of the coaches' wives started calling these gatherings the "Mafia Family Dinners." I hadn't really considered the concept before, but her description was very accurate. Only in the mafia movies would you see people gathered around a table full of food discussing "the family business" (in our case, football) with the understood code of silence that the discussions would not leave the room. This is my chosen family. These are the people that we have chosen to include in our lives and share the common devotion to the sport we love so much.
I love these people. They have my utmost respect and confidence. If I ever needed anything, either now or in the future... I know I could call any one of them and they'd have my back in a heartbeat. We have bonded through victory, defeat, persecution, blood, sweat and tears.