Friday night lights revisited

Justin Kollmeyer's picture

It’s now the 2011-version of this great cultural phenomenon, so I feel compelled to re-visit this wonderful subject, to re-share my thoughts, and to re-affirm my accolades for all those involved right now.

It’s that great time of year again throughout our community — Friday night high school football games. The bark of signals. The grunts of linemen. The spiral on the ball. The “pop” of the tackle. The scamper of the ballcarrier. The brotherhood of teammates. The roar of the crowd. The cheers of the faithful. The Fight Song. The “stands music” of the band (“The Horse” is my favorite). The precision and beauty of the halftime show. Friends and family. The thrill of victory. And the agony of defeat. “Be true to your school! Rah, rah, rah, rah, siss boom bah!”

The excitement’s in the air again. I love it. Again. And my “hat’s off” to this year’s compilation of current participants.

And I want to declare again this year that we owe all this to the outstanding young people of our community. I rise to salute them once more. You know as well as I do that the young people who get most of the “publicity” in the newspaper and on the evening newscasts are the ones who are not doing the right thing, those who have crossed the line and broken the law. That’s what usually makes for “news.” But who should be on the front page and in the lead story are these impressive, well-behaved, over-achieving and society-contributing youth we’re talking about here.

I’ve written about this before, but do you remember that the band reports to the 120-degree asphalt of the school parking lot in mid-July to march-and-drill and drill-and-march and march-and-drill some more? And when they’re not marching and sweating, they’re rehearsing and memorizing intricate music which demands that not a note be missed.

They go to summer band camp to march and play from pre-dawn to the dark of night. And the flag corps and drum line even find “extra” time to bring intricate syncopations and maneuvers to perfection.

You’ve heard me say this before, too: “If you’re in the band, you’d better give your soul to Jesus, because the band director will get the rest of you!” Amen? Amen!

And the result is a performance that rivals Broadway and Las Vegas. In the early season it may come in khaki shorts and show t-shirts, but by the end of the season and in the competition marching events, these presentations are spectacles of uniform precision unmatched in either The Big Apple or Sin City.

And the cheerleaders go through the same rigors and grueling demands to prepare themselves. Watch them closely. Cheerleaders display a remarkable combination of athletic ability and winning smiles, of timing and rhythm, of personality and gymnastics, of school spirit and leadership. Their dedication and hard work are also their paths to something that is constructive and contributing to the good of the whole. And they too compete at the highest level which brings their skills and teamwork to the pinnacle of success.

And, oh yes, the football team. These guys “pay the price.” They lift weights all year. Run all year. Compete all year. Sweat through summer football camp and weeks of pain and drudgery before the first game snap is ever taken. They carry the burden and blessing of God-given talent at a variety of levels. They give their all. They do their best. They carry the banner and pride of their school deep in their hearts. No matter what their record, they expect to win every game and give their best effort until the last whistle blows. As my old football coach in Texas always told us, “Boys, it’s the game of life.” And so it is.

And let’s not forget that all these Friday night heroes are students as well. Once school starts, they meet the requirements of a challenging curriculum first, and then do all these other great things. Wow!

Finally, as a community, we thank and honor all the adult directors, leaders, sponsors, coaches, teachers, administrators, and support staff of all these organizations and teams. You are to be commended. Have a great year. We know that what you do for and with our young people is not just a “job.” It’s definitely a “calling.” Thanks.

Friday night lights. Thank you, young people. You’re doing great things. Way to go. We’ll come watch and enjoy.

Kollmeyer is pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on Hwy. 314 in Fayetteville, between Lowe’s and The Pavilion. He invites anyone without a church right now, or anyone “seeking God” to come to Sunday worship at 9:15 (Contemporary), or 11:15 (Pipe Organ). Special “Confirmation Classes” are starting now and are open to all middle school students and parents. These classes, along with Sunday School Classes for children, youth classes for Sr. High, and “Better Life Classes” for adults meet each Sunday at 10:20 a.m. For more information log on at www.princeofpeacefayette.com or call 770-461-3403.