Saturday was homecoming in Alpharetta. It was a beautiful fall day. Cloudless blue sky. Crisp temperatures. Brilliant sunshine. Perfect day for football. It being homecoming and all there needed to be something to set it apart from the other games. These are middle schoolers so there wasn’t a dance and you didn’t have former players returning home to take the field to be recognized. Just your same group of girls, boys, and their parents, who gather here every Saturday afternoon for a ballgame. So, the plan was for the cheerleaders to be given a rose and escorted onto the field by a football player. Names being announced, of course. There was much hand wringing the week before about which boy might escort which girl and how this was going to play out. Well, it played out. Beautifully. The uncertainty of who you were walking with, the awkwardness of where to place your arm and how to give and accept the rose, the homemade giant Raider footballs through which the kids walked, it was all so… innocent. An innocence that will soon disappear as they place more importance on being cool than on being kids. As I crouched on the field, smiling through tears, to get pictures of my girl and her escorts, Troy and Jacob, I was struck by how much will change for her in the next few years. As she discovers who she is and finds her own way. I know some of that innocence will be lost but I hope not all. I wish for these kids to hold onto the sincerity of this moment. The genuine feeling of pride as you cheer and play for a team full of heart. The rush of hearing your name announced to a stadium full of people.
The simplicity of taking a friend’s arm and walking onto a sun drenched football field on a perfect October day.