Proud father with his smiling football player son.

He Was Proud Of Himself

The heat of summer waned. It was a beautiful September evening for football. I sat on the bleachers with a book. My eleven-year-old grandson, Josh, and his team warmed up for their first game of the season. Their coach screamed as they worked through various, prearranged plays.

"You!" He pointed. The boy trembled under the glare of his coach. "What are you doing? You're supposed to block your man." He flapped his arms with exasperation. "Let's do it again, and this time get it right."

Our four grandchildren were played or practiced sports that night. The youngest, Elizabeth, was with her daddy, who coached her soccer team. Benny, the next oldest practiced soccer with his team and the oldest, Seth, was at his swim practice. With four kids headed in different directions and Ginny working, I was volunteered to take the second oldest, Josh to his game. I didn't mind; I got the football deal.

At 6:15 PM, the referees called the captains of the team forward, said whatever referees say during these meetings and blew his whistle. The two teams went into their respective huddles, clapped their hands and stood straight.

My jaw dropped. The other team was, on average, eight to twelve inches taller than our players.

It didn't take long for their size advantage to show. We kicked off. The team ran the ball all the way back. On the second play they scored the extra point - 7 to 0 in less than a minute.

"OK!" I thought. "Now it's our turn."

The opposing team kicked to us. Our receiver caught the ball, rushed forward and was promptly crushed by a giant of a boy. Three plays later, after a movement of fifteen yards, in the wrong direction, we kicked the ball again.

Three plays later, we were down 14 to 0.

We received the ball again. This time we managed a touchdown, but failed to get the extra point. It was 14 to 6.

The game went bad for us. At the half, the score stood at 34 to 6. Josh saw minimal play time.

In the second half, they used Josh more often. The score climbed to 40 to 6.

After giving up the ball once again, the other team began their charge down the field. Their quarterback threw a pass. The receiver snapped it up, turned, rushed down the field, dodged two of our players and headed for the goal. There was only one man in his way - Josh.

Josh dove, wrapped his arms around that boy's legs and held on with all his strength. The receiver dragged josh a couple of yards and finally went down.

I raised my arms in the air. "Yeah, Josh! Way to go, Son!"

On our turn, we failed to score. We kicked off again.

The opposing team moved the ball two yards on their first down. In their second play, the quarterback handed to ball to the running back. The boy shot through an opening and rushed to the goal, but there was Josh again. Josh took him off his feet and saved another goal.

They scored on the next play, but it wasn't Josh's fault.

The game ended with a score of 48 to 6.

Josh and I got in the car for the ride home. I was ready to console him, but he turned to me with a wide grin. "Poppa Mike, that was a great game."

"Great game? You lost 48 to 6!"

"I know, but I did good."

"Josh, you sure did. You did great."

The boy understood the game better than I did. They didn't win, but he did his best. I was proud of him. More importantly, he was proud of himself.

~ Michael T. Smith ~
Copyright © 2012

Michael lives in Ohio with his wife Ginny and his stepdaughter's family. You can see a list of Mike's stories here: And you can get his stories emailed to you by signing up here:  Let Michael know what you think of his story:  Michael T. Smith
[ by: Michael T. Smith Copyright © 2012, ( ) - {used with permission} ]

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