You train all year long, go through spring practices, sweat through all the summer workouts and just can’t wait for those special Friday nights under the lights.
Then life happens and sometimes you get the unpleasant reminder that it’s just a game.
In the big picture, all the effort, time and passion you put into this game called football doesn’t matter as much as you think when these moments arise.
Or do they?
On Thursday, Kathryn Howard died after a two-year battle with cancer. She was the mother of St. Thomas More freshman quarterback Walker and the wife of the program’s most recognizable player ever in former LSU quarterback Jamie Howard.
As a fitting gesture, STM’s offense took a delay of game on its first offensive play from scrimmage, kneeling in honor of her death to begin the Cougars’ 56-21 road win over Franklinton on Friday night.
“It was kind of to symbolize that the game stands still and that it’s just a game,” STM offensive coordinator Shane Savoie said. “To kind of shed light on the entire community not only for the love and affection we have for the Howard family, but for all of our family members who have been affected by cancer.
“Just a realization that it’s just a game and that sometimes the game needs to stop for us to recognize the real important things in life.”
Somehow, though, it’s in times like these when we realize how insignificant the final score of a game is that sports can become more important than we ever imagined.
In the middle of his family’s world being turned upside down throughout this painful process, Walker played in the game Friday.
Savoie knew exactly how Walker felt.
You see, Savoie’s mother, Lillian, died of cancer when he was 18 years old. Those days of playing quarterback at STM in the 1990s while his mother fought provided some momentary periods of relief sprinkled around such a sorrowful time.
“For me as a player going through it, and I can see it in Walker,” Savoie said. “It’s such a break from reality. Being at practice and being at the game, when you’re out there, it’s almost like there’s nothing else going on. You can just play football.
“I can see it in him. There’s such a peace and a break for him when he’s able to be out there. I experienced that as well. That was the meaning of sports and football for me when I went through that.”