Last Saturday I was driving home from work when I passed by Hicksville High School and noticed a football game was in progress. Now, normally I wouldn't think much of the event and high tail it home to catch up on some errands. Okay, maybe I wasn't going to do any errands.
However, after weeks of lobbying for support of the new pee-wee football league my son has joined, I decided to "walk the walk" so to speak. It wasn't the best of days either; cold blustery winds adjoined with a gray skyline. But I parked the car and went anyway. As I took my seat, which was easy to find by the way, I started to recapture the days when I too played for this team almost 20 years ago.
I could remember the empty stands when we struggled to hold our own against the Farmingdales and the Massapequas. I could remember the coaches talking about how undersized we were. I could remember when few people respected us as a team and looked at the Comets as being the doormats of Conference I football. So when I looked up at the scoreboard and saw that the home team was trailing 15-6 to a rather large Elmont squad, those same feelings were flushed into my mind again.
It was at this point when I stopped myself from becoming the same type of person that embodied everything I resented growing up. I was determined not to become the casual pessimist all too familiar at Hicksville football games. Instead of grumbling in second thoughts, I cheered, sometimes on my feet. Instead of moaning when a tackle was missed, I supported the team urging them to keep playing hard. A few dads in the top rows even got into it with a "defense" chant. Boom, a gutsy kid named Brewer scored and things got louder as the momentum began to shift. For a brief moment I was connected to Hicksville again. Our town, our team like it always should have been in a community so rich in sports.
As a sense of guilt set in as to the amount of games I've missed over the years, I realized that these guys are a gritty bunch. Linemen who have played both ways are now gasping for air while the quarterback, who has absorbed some heavy hits is standing tough. Unlike teams from the past that would have folded up like a cheap umbrella in January, this squad was up for the challenge. They marched on ahead in an impressive drive to go ahead late.
However, when Elmont regained the lead with less than two minutes to go, this team's spirits remained remarkably high. Following the completion of a long pass that put the Comets in field goal range, a miraculous comeback seemed to be in order. The fans were on their feet when the Hicksville kicker booted the ball only to see a strong wind carry it wide to the right....
Although the loss was a disappointing one, it came with a message to all those in attendance. It was the statement that these kids have bought into the winning philosophies of their new coaches, burying the negative attitudes that have always plagued previous Hicksville teams.
This team will not repeat last year's record of 6-1-1. In fact, they may not even make the playoffs this year. However, improvement is not always measured in wins but in effort. These kids deserve the town's support. Better yet, they've earned it. With every program comes a defining moment when a team begins to experience a change in it's character. Perhaps this is Hicksville's time for such a transition.
But while the players and coaches have done their part, we as fellow alumni and townspeople have failed to respond. It would be shameful for us to just sit back and not become involved in this movement. So Friday night when the Comets head into Farmingdale, a town renown for it's outstanding support of their teams, why not come out and help. Take out those old black and orange jackets and cheer loud and long. Believe me, they will hear you.