A mental snapshot to cherish | PostIndependent.com

A mental snapshot to cherish

Dale Shrull
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Dale Shrull

High school football is about memories, lessons, work ethic and respect.

No other sport encompasses the value of teamwork and camaraderie. Maybe it’s because of the number of players on the team and that one single breakdown can ruin a play. Maybe it’s the physical nature of the game and warrior mentality that it takes to succeed.

The accountability of football is immense.

On Saturday night, when the scoreboard taunted the Glenwood Springs Demons, coach Rocky Whitworth gathered his seniors in the far end zone to give them one final lesson. One final coaching instruction.

As the roar of the Elizabeth Cardinals’ celebration echoed into ears of the disappointed Demons, the seniors embraced one another and celebrated in their own way.

High school football is about memories.

The seniors wept and held one another and were football teammates on the field one last time.

Rocky told them to put their helmets back on for a final time. The football helmet is a unique piece of equipment.

People will dribble a basketball, swing a golf club, choke up on a bat or kick a soccer ball, and even toss the pigskin around on a fall afternoon as they grow older.

Very few of these young men will pull on a football helmet and buckle a chin strap ever again.

These seniors, blanketed in disappointment, enveloped in sadness, were instructed to soak in the moment, savor their surroundings and take a snapshot of this amazing time.

“I have them put their helmets back on one more time and have them make a picture in their mind,” Rocky says. “I have them look around and create a picture in their mind.”

That once-in-a-lifetime moment, that special never-to-be-experienced-again snapshot that these young people might forget to absorb otherwise. But their coach makes certain they will not forget this moment.

High school football is about camaraderie.

“It’s been a great season. It was awesome to play for this team. We’re a family,” says senior Blaze Barham.

Senior Nick Ciani couldn’t hold back the tears of coming up short in his final high school game. But he relished the memories of playing in a second state title game as he was consoled by red-clad well-wishers.

“Coach told us to look around and make a memory,” Nick said.

He did as he was instructed.

Senior Willy Pelland, eyes red from tears of disappointment, also took that snapshot in his mind.

“It’s heartbreaking to think that this is the last time most of us will ever put on a uniform,” he says.

High school football is about lessons that these seniors will take into the real world.

Coach Whitworth smiles and looks down to ponder the question.

Do these bunch of overachievers, scrappers and fighters remind him of who he was when he wore a football helmet?

He nods when he’s ready to answer.

“I like to say that I was fairly persistent and fairly feisty at times, and would always hang in there, so yeah, I saw some of myself in these kids,” he says.

Then senior quarterback Luke Jacob comes up and puts his arm around his coach.

“Thank you coach, thanks for everything. It’s been fun,” Jacob said.

Rocky returns the embrace.

“It was my pleasure, Luke. My pleasure,” he said, the moment almost catching him off guard.

High school football is about lessons, memories, camaraderie and fun.

Rocky talks about his 36 years in coaching and nods again.

“For us to be here and have this opportunity was a real pleasure. It has been a great season and it’s been very satisfactory,” he says.

After 36 years, Rocky Whitworth also took a snapshot on this final day of the 2010 season. Another memory to be added to countless others.

As the celebration on the Elizabeth side faded, a group of Glenwood seniors stood on the field chatting. Smiles had replaced tears and they looked around, soaking in this special setting one last time, taking a few more precious snapshots in their mind that will make for a memorable slide show as they grow older.

“This is always going to be with us,” Luke says about the 2010 team and title game memories. “The bond between us all is in the Glenwood heart.”

And in the minds of these seniors are snapshots and memories that will last a lifetime.

High school football is not really about winning and losing. High school football is about everything else.

Dale Shrull is a freelance writer for the Post Independent.

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