As senior day approaches this week, I thought I would talk about the emotions as a player that go into your last game of the regular season at home.
The week before senior day is a different one. You continue to concentrate on the game and your routine is no different, but in the back of your mind, you keep thinking how fast this last week goes by. Every other week is so slow with all the work, time, soreness, and commitment both mentally and physically; however, this week flies by it seems. You are trying to realize finally that you've taken things for granted at some level since you were 6 and first put on the pads and suddenly you start realizing you will miss those long days, that bickering with teammates, the body being sore from using it, the mental thoughts of breaking down a field blitz against 21 personnel. You start to take mental notes of what's happening realizing these memories may be your last. There isn't much fighting between teammates, the ones you haven't always gotten along with become your best friends because you realize how much you've been through together. And as you go to bed, you start counting the days left, "4 days left, 3 days left...etc." You wish time would stop and you could enjoy and make this week last forever. All 4 or 5 years you have waited to be done with the body aching, the yelling, having no normal life, and now you start realizing that it's almost all over. It's an emotional week, but you keep your head on not wanting to allow yourself to believe it's almost over.
Running out of the tunnel:
You wake up on game day early, no alarm clock is needed because you just couldn't sleep. You meticulously prepare everything. You take mental notes all day wanting to remember this exact feeling. It's a quieter pre game for you as you are internalizing everything and realizing how fortunate you are to be playing this game. You start getting nervous wanting to put on a performance to remember. I remember putting every piece of uniform and equipment on slower that day. I remember trying to slow things down as much as possible. And just before it's time to head to the field, you put that helmet on as slow as you ever have. I remember closing my eyes and trying to feel everything as that helmet slipped on my head, thinking, "this is it, you may never have this feeling again in this locker room." And then the seniors walk out to the tunnel and wait. One by one guys get called out to the field to greet their families who have supported them their entire lives. They went in alphabetical order my year, and so Tadman was almost last. So I kept waiting my turn, it seemed like an hour went by and then I find myself next in line. They call my name, and I hugged coach Pete, and slowly jogged down to the fifty trying to relish every second as I stared around mentally thanking all the fans for the support and knowing this was the last time they would ever cheer for me. honestly, you try and hold back the tears of emotions. Then I greeted my parents, brother, and wife at the fifty with a big hug, again holding back the tears, (I would be lying if a few didn't creep out from the eyes, as many guys do.) You just have this feeling of gratitude towards the family, they've been there since you used shoe polish on car windows and they served oranges at halftime in pee wee football, and here we are at the culmination of everything. It's just an unforgettable experience. Players remember 2 moments on the blue forever...guaranteed. It's the first time you run out on that blue with smiles and losing your breath at how cool it is to be playing college football at BSU, and the last time as you have kind of mixed emotions trying to remember every moment. Even though I ran out probably 25 games worth at home, those 2 are the ones guys remember.
Playing the game:
The only difference in the game itself, because all that emotion goes away the moment the whistle blows, is that you find yourself a few times during the game, taking a mental picture. I remember in the middle of plays before the snap, or taking a knee on the sideline, or sitting on the bench next to my teammates that feeling and those images.
You close your eyes a bit and take that mental snapshot trying to step outside yourself for a moment and just make a lasting memory, and just thanking the Lord for the gifts He gave that allowed you to be able to play this great sport in such a great place on such a great blue field!
Saying good bye to the blue forever:
As the game ends, you wish you could go and personally shake every fans hand and thank them for the support, as Boise State is a special place to play because of all you fans, that's what ultimately you remember on senior day. Those unknown faces in the crowd cheering you on, and you run around the stadium giving as many autographs and high fives as possible. And then you slowly walk off the field, mentally saying good bye to what has been your home for 4 years.
It truly is a great day to be a Bronco. On a football note, it can be sometimes tricky to control emotions. So watch for a possible start that's either explosive because the emotions fueled more concentration, or a slower start with mistakes because emotions overtook mental preparation and concentration.
Check out my blog at martytadman.com for my thoughts on Coach Pete, and why he should stay at BSU or if he should leave, and where he should go if he left.
Thanks Bronco Nation, sorry for the somewhat emotional post, but writting this brought me back to my senior day and it's a day I wish I could share with all of you fans, as it's one of the neatest memories I will cherish forever.