Without question, Senior Night is for moms.
When the parents line up with their football players on the field for the festivities before the game, the dads usually look like they’d rather not be there.
They are usually stoic as the females around them gush.
The field is flooded with flowers, balloons, countless hugs and lots and lots of tears as the young men get ready to play a violent football game. The players just want the game to kick off already.
We’ll see that familiar Senior Night scene play out twice this week in the Mining City. Butte High’s football team will go through the drill on Thursday, while Butte Central will do it on Friday.
The Maroons are planning a very special Senior Night. At least their mothers are.
There will be lots of pink involved for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and each Maroon senior will pick someone special to dedicate his performance to when the Maroons play Hamilton.
It will be very, very touching for every mother in the crowd. Most players will dedicated the game to their mom, too, if they know what’s good for them.
“We think that’s kind of cool and something different,” says Tane Schulte, whose son Kyle is one of the Butte Central seniors. “It’s kind of a mom thing.”
Actually, there’s no “kind of” about it. It is totally a mom thing. Tane has been losing her mind for more than a week worrying about making Senior Night the absolute perfect night. You’d almost think it was a wedding.
Her husband Pat, who is an assistant coach, probably won’t even realize it is Senior Night unit just before it is time for the parents to line up.
This Friday night, though, I’ll be thinking about the dads. Well, I’ll be thinking about one dad in particular. The one who won’t be there.
My childhood buddy Steve McArthur died in a tragic accident on July 4, 1998, when his son Colin was just a baby.
Steve was on my Little League baseball team, and I stood by him or Greg “Peach” Leetz in the dugout of every game. Those two were the reason I looked forward to every game and every practice.
I was a couple years behind Steve in school, so we weren’t best pals off the field. Yet, Steve always went out of his way to talk to me on the school playground, and he was always so encouraging.
He was the only person to tell me I should continue playing baseball after my 12-year-old year in Little League. My parents never even told me that. My brothers never told me. Coaches never told me. Peach never told me that.
Nobody told me that because I was a horrible baseball player. I couldn’t hit to save my life. I could give you a note from my eye doctor to explain why I was bad, if you’d like.
In the field I wasn’t any better. I was the kid muttering “please don’t hit it to me” over and over before every pitch.
Everybody knew I should give up baseball before Babe Ruth League. Everybody, that is, except Steve.
“You should play,” Steve told me. “You’re good enough, and you’ll have fun. Seriously, you should play.”
I’ll never forget thinking how I wish every person would be as positive and encouraging as Steve always was. What a world that would be.
So I can only imagine what Steve would have been like as a dad. He would have been the best.
This year, Colin is a senior for the Maroons, and he apparently turned out to be a pretty darn good young man. I say apparently because Colin probably wouldn’t know me from Adam, and I really only know him as a football player.
I’ve been watching him play football for a while now for the Maroons, and he has been impressive. He earned all-conference honorable mention honors as a tight end last season.
He also played cornerback for the Maroons last year during the run to the Class A State championship game. This year, Colin has to be in the running for All-State consideration at defensive end. That’s a position move you hardly ever see.
Listed at 6 feet, 188 pounds on the roster, Colin seems a lot bigger this season. He also looks like a potential college football player.
Colin started the season at linebacker but moved to defensive end after Kyle Harrington tore an ACL in the season opener.
He doesn’t have the speed of Harrington, but Colin seems to get better every game. The last home game he did his best Marcus Ferriter impersonation, dominating the left tackle and punishing the quarterback.
The leaps he takes week after week are apparently even surprising to some of his coaches.
“McArthur,” yelled assistant coach Mike Hogart on the side line last week. “What happened? I take a couple weeks off and you turn into a pass rusher?”
McArthur just smiled as the coach patted him on his helmet, which was covering his long hair. He looked so much like his dad.
He doesn’t have the blond perm or the glasses like his dad had back in Little League, but I could have sworn I was looking at Steve.
I smile every time I see Colin make a play or hear his name called over the public address speakers or the radio. It also tears my heart a little with each nice play that he makes because I know what my buddy is missing.
It is the nightmare of every dad to not be around to see what kind of person his baby turns out to be. In this case, Steve would be so proud. He’d also be so much fun to be around at all the games.
Colin, though, has no shortage of grown men looking proudly upon him. Every one of Steve’s friends, and he had a lot, is beaming with pride with every snap.
We all look on — mostly from afar — and wonder what our old pal would be thinking with each big play.
As the parents line up on the field Friday night, Colin will have a bunch of his dad’s friends standing with him in spirit.
A couple will be standing on the sideline, and some will be in the crowd. Some, like his uncle Benny in California, will probably be listening to the game on the radio over the internet.
Each will be fighting back the tears as Steve’s boy is introduced on Senior Night.
None of us, though, will show any emotion during the ceremony.
That’s because we all know Senior Night is for moms.