Coach’s Corner is a weekly feature at Outside the Huddle written by Kevin Merz, former Bishop Dwenger quarterback and North Side offensive coordinator.
Friday Night Lights are special, but they don’t shine forever.
Starting with the moment you walk onto the practice field this afternoon, take it all in. Stop and look around at those surrounding you today. In four short years, 15-year-old boys have become 18-year-old men in the blink of an eye. Unknown kids have become your life-long brothers whether you realize it yet or not. Coaches who have been hard on you will one day be mentors who attend your wedding years later because of what they mean to you.
There are 321 high schools in the state of Indiana that participate in prep football. Unbeknownst to them right now, nearly half of those schools will be playing their final game of the season this week.
Do whatever it takes to not be included in that statistic.
You see, it goes by so fast and in the blink of an eye it’s gone. People my age constantly tell you it goes by too fast, but you’re young and happy and free and it won’t hit you yet, but I assure you one day it will.
Monday walkthroughs are never fun. I get it, it is annoying to have to wear full pads for Tuesday and Wednesday practices this time of the year. You can’t wait to get home during Thursday walkthroughs and be done watching the punt team jog through their third rep. Friday night lights seem like they will shine forever, and while they will, you only get a few more opportunities to shine underneath them.
Embrace the lights.
Embrace the student body turning out in massive numbers to support you.
Thank your teachers who start third period with a “you played great Friday, congratulations.”
Understand the sacrifices your parents have made for the last however many years to be able to make sure you have the cleats and gloves and wristbands that complete your look.
Tell a coach “thank you” for all the work they’ve put in this season.
Above all else, play for the guys next to you.
Do your job this week better than you’ve ever done it, because this feeling that you get on a Friday is gone before you know it.
Do yourself a favor on Friday, before you get in that “zone” that you need to put yourself in to play at your best, take a moment to stop and smell the roses. Take a second in time to turn to your fans, friends and family in the bleachers and smile, knowing they are all there to support you.
Give yourself a moment to walk the field and feel it under your feet. Close your eyes in the locker room before you take the field and understand what it means to be in a congested space with your brothers all working toward the same goal.
I hope for all of you that there are a few more games to come as you march toward Lucas Oil and the ultimate goal as a team.
However, if Friday turns out to be your last of high school football, as tears fill your eyes before you board the bus, do one thing one last time. Turn and look at the lights, let them bring you peace and comfort knowing for four years you did everything in your power to excel underneath them. Take in those stadium lights one final time, because next August they will be on and illuminating a new group of seniors, but sadly they will never shine on you again.
Friday night lights are special, don’t let them go dark before you’ve appreciated them one final time.
Coach’s Corner appears every Monday during the prep football season at Outside the Huddle. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers.