"Go ZACH!" the deep voice shouted. "C'mon, Zach - POUND 'em!"
With my grandmotherly indignity aroused, I stared pointedly at the man seated just down the metal bleachers from us. The look was all for naught, however, since the doting father was so ensconced in his son's football performance that he didn't even notice me.
"Ye-AH, Zach! Way to flatten 'em!" the excitable dad hooted.
I cringed in disgust. I'm all for supporting the kids, and I have done a whole lot of cheering in my day, but this guy was a little excessive. He had been droning on all morning almost non-stop, and it was always for his son and not his son's team. It seemed like overkill, given the fact his son's team was absolutely trouncing our grandson's team - and the fact that they were only 10 years old.
"Grandma, why does that guy over there keep yelling like that?" asked our 7-year-old granddaughter. "Why doesn't he stop?"
My husband and I were clueless as to what to tell her, except that maybe we needed to do a little more cheering of our own.
"Go Park!" I yelled meekly.
It was game day, and the first time all season we'd been able to get down to the Twin Cities to watch our grandson Ethan play football. And though I've sat in a lot of bleachers over the years, I'd kind of forgotten what it's like when you are related to one of the players. Your senses are much keener, you worry a whole lot more and yes, you stare daggers at the guy down the way that keeps urging his kid to "pound 'em."
I decided it was all part of the game, and I tried not to get my dander up any further or I was afraid I'd say something to the guy that was distinctly UN-grandmotherly.
I had brought along my camera with the zoom lens, and I roamed the bleachers firing off shot after shot of our grandson's team like they were superstars. I secretly hoped the guy in the bleachers would think I was a photographer from the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the team was going to appear on the front of the next day's sports section....
I had to stop myself in my tracks. "Listen to me!" I mentally reprimanded myself. "You're getting carried away, just like that guy! After all, this is just a Saturday morning scrimmage, and the kids are only 10...."
After that, I resigned myself to sitting next to our family group and trying to capture some action shots of Ethan as he played. He was assigned to play quarterback that day, so it was particularly thrilling to watch him in action.
He was one of the skinniest kids on the team, but he seemed able to really take charge, organize his players and follow through on the plays. Granted, he had a turnover or two, and it was pretty obvious they were overpowered by the bigger, more experienced kids on the other team, but in my eyes he could do no wrong.
I snapped picture after picture each time Ethan fielded the snap and either passed it down the field or handed it off to another player. But try as I might, I always seemed to lose sight of the play in my lens after the first two or three seconds, and I was concerned that I wasn't getting a lot of good shots of him.
The score was fairly lopsided as the game neared its end (the guy down the stands was still urging his son to "drill 'em!"). Ethan's team had possession of the football and after huddling briefly with the coach, they went into their formation. He barked out the commands, the center hiked the ball to him, and through the lens of my camera I watched as he faked a handoff to his running back. Then Ethan tucked the ball under his arm and took off as half the other team smothered the running back. He sprinted around the end, turned on the speed and headed for the goal line. I desperately scrambled to keep him in my view finder so I could grab the perfect shot of him dashing into the end zone.
And just as he did, my husband leaped up in front of me.