Locking up success

Football traditions bring families and team closer together


Kaitlyn Gordon

Football lockers are decorated with gifts from the mothers of players. This tradition started to get mothers more involved with football.

Story by Cate Rounds, staff writer

The football players work endlessly to make sure they’re ready for the game every Friday. This can be exhausting, and everyone around them knows that. For the past seven years, moms of the players get together, clean out their lockers and give them baskets of encouragement to motivate them for the upcoming game.

“We come in and start by straightening up their lockers,” parent Jennifer Radney said. “Then we clean off their helmets and shoes really well, and the coach has us fold and set out their jerseys for the next day. We also have baskets for each of them that we fill each week with snacks, drinks and encouraging notes. When they come in, they always have all sorts of surprises.”

The tradition began as a way to bring the parents closer to their sons as well as getting the community involved.

“Our goal is to get the community involved and to get moms involved,” varsity coach Gerry Stanford said. “A mother-son relationship is very special. It allows the moms who don’t necessarily know a lot about football but care about their sons to get involved with the football program. In the bleachers, those moms have a common bond. They all have a son out there playing. We’ve been able to accumulate that into, not just the families, but community members who want to take care of our kids.”

All these traditions provide a beacon of hope moving forward throughout the year.

The encouragement from all the parents not only drives the players before a game, but it also drives them to excel in school and in their everyday lives.

— Cate Rounds

“I think traditions in general are important,” parent Carissa Clack said. “It makes the kids feel special. Anytime you can encourage a student, whether it’s sports or in classes, it provides them something they may not be getting outside school.”

Coach Stanford has been able to reach out to the community, encouraging people who don’t even have a kid in football to support the school and the team.

“I attended a meeting right before school started where Coach Stanford gave a presentation about the football team and their mission to reach these young men to better their future,” volunteer Julie Mitchell said. “He said a lot of these kids had families to help them, but a lot [of them] don’t have families to come up here all the time. He asked if anyone would be willing to take on some players, so I signed up.”

A tradition like this not only brings the team closer together, but brings all the parents closer as well.

“I personally have made so many good friends doing this,” Radney said. “I have met so many wonderful people. There’s even a grandpa that shows up. Everyone has been so helpful.”

Along with the bond between parents, there has been a bond between the volunteers and the kids they help out each week.

“I feel a connection to these kids,” Mitchell said. “I know the [jersey] numbers I’ve been taking care of, and that’s who I feel closer to. Even though they have no idea who I am, I am able to look for their numbers when they’re on the field and support them.”

All the families and volunteers just want to support the players. They want to make sure the boys feel loved and supported going into these tough games. This tradition has provided a new sense of community in our small town.

“[This tradition] provides a sense of togetherness between us and those boys,” Radney said. “We let them know we’re behind them, and we support them. We are always there for them, no matter what. We don’t want anyone to feel like there’s not someone here supporting them.”