What Homecoming Means to Me

What Homecoming Means to Me

Photo Provided

Aryana Hamrick, Lifestyles and Entertainment Editor

The summer of my freshmen year I joined the football team, not as a player of course but as a manager. I thought it sounded kind of cool and my brother was a football player so I thought, “Heck it.” My friend Sara knew of a girl who was actually the manager for the team at the time, and I was invited to come to summer practice. Before joining the team, I couldn’t really talk to people, and I would have described myself as weird. I was self-conscious, and I got stage fright really easily.  I could stand up for myself and others if I had to, but it wasn’t something I would go out of my way to do. In other words, I was a freshmen. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know the school. All I knew was what I was shown on television. I thought I was about to walk into “Mean Girls” featuring Coffee County girls. However, that’s not at all what happened.

That summer I met Nikki Hernandez, a junior and the head football manager. She welcomed Sara Dove and me with open arms and right away I felt like part of the team. We got down to business with what was expected of us, and she showed us how summer practice was going to happen. We had to fill up the bottles. That’s all I thought it was, and yes that was our main job at those practices, but it gets hot outside fast. Those boys were getting up and coming to practice at 9:00 a.m.  almost everyday. I could tell which ones wanted to be there, and which ones were just there to say they were a football player. I could see the dedication on some of their faces and it was inspiring. They inspired me. I knew from the first day at practice that it was something I wanted to do for as long as I could. I loved it. Yes, sometimes I had to drag myself out of bed because summer was suppose to have wake-up calls around 1:00 p.m not 9:00 a.m., but I did it.

My brother actually ended up quitting the team because he needed to get a job, and the football schedule messed with his work schedule. So, I was left alone with football players and coaches that only knew my name because they could call me “Little Hamrick.” All of my brother’s friends looked out for me, though. I will never forget my first group of seniors and how it affected me when they left. Those boys are part of the reason the football team became my family. It wasn’t the football team and the water girls; we were their managers. They treated us like we were important to them, and we were.

The job changes once summer practice ends, and it’s not just water anymore. Once season begins we are in charge of passing out supplies like helmets, jerseys, and pants, and if we find an extra pair of knee pads we are a saving grace. We take care of washing all the jerseys and pants after Friday  and Monday night games, even when they are still soaked after the weekend in sweat. We carry the medical bags, headsets, equipment bags and more just to make sure we have everything for the games. Sometimes that walk to the field is a mile long and we’ve got 60 pounds on our backs, but we do it anyways because we love being there, and being a part of the team.

My first Coffee Pot was actually on the sidelines of the football game. That night was very surreal. On the bus ride over Nikki, Sara, Cheyenne, and I were all sitting in the front of the bus. We had front row seats to every person stopping to take pictures of the bus, or people coming from their homes just to watch us pass. The only sound I could hear was the wailing of the police sirens because not a single boy was breathing loud enough to be noticed. Once we pulled into the school the back of the stadium was packed with friends and family just waiting for the bus. It was insane. I was terrified. There were going to be so many people in the stands watching me running around like a little rat. Once the game started, however, all of that melted away and it was just the boys, the game, and I. That was the year we won Coffee Pot.

I can honestly say that football has made me who I am today. Without football I would not have had the courage to run for homecoming court my sophomore year. I didn’t think I’d win, but I wanted to give it a shot and it paid off. Without football I probably would not be able to stand up for myself.  Not letting the boys run over me and just be disrespectful when they had a few bad plays helped give me a voice. I do not take kindly to rudeness and disrespect, and now I have the strength to stop it. I’m a better version of me, and football helped me become it.

Homecoming court is not just pretty dresses and a dance to me and many others, but sometimes I think people forget that it’s about the team. It is all of the effort put in year round for those boys. It is all of the late Friday nights and piles of clothing I’ve washed. It’s the crickets hiding in jerseys that I’ve thought were spiders. It’s the tears I’ve shed with the players over our loses that we have fought so hard to win. It’s the vomit by the sandpit and sweat stained tee shirts. It’s the football team. It’s my team, my family of four years. Yes we don’t always get along, but that does not mean I wouldn’t do anything for my boys, or my girls, because we are family. That is what Homecoming is to me and that is why I am absolutely honored to have been chosen as Football Queen. I love my boys to death, win or lose because I know how hard they train, and I am proud to be their 2018-2019 Queen.