Regular readers of the Top 5 are probably well aware that I am a huge Gator fan, being a loyal member of the Gator Nation! (Many moons ago, I stood on the sidelines of the Swamp as a Gator cheerleader, so yeah, my blood really does run orange and blue.) So, it’s right around the end of July when I start itching to see a little football, and by the end of August, I am near crazy with anticipation!
Top 5 editor Bess in her cheering days.
Now, of course, this year my time waiting has been filled by watching Tim Tebow make the leap to the NFL, and while reviews are still out, he does seem to be doing better than many critics would have credited him. (Fingers crossed, but I gotta believe he will find a way…he is Superman after all!)
Tebow Gator Chomp
And I also got a little bit of SEC hate-on by watching former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin back with USC while playing in Hawaii. (But I had to stay up past midnight to do it!)
However, for the last two years, football has been a bit closer to home as my nephew has been playing on the middle school team for Orangewood. His season kicked off Thursday night at Master’s Academy in Oviedo, and unfortunately the Orangewood Rams got mightily smeared… let’s just say they didn’t stop the time clock for the last 5 minutes due to the “score differential.”
My nephew starting in his first game this season.
But the real story of the night was not the score, but rather an extremely terrifying event. One of Orangewood’s defensive lineman, Evan Pughe, went down during an extra point kick. The rest of the team ran off the field, but when Evan tried to get up, he couldn’t. In fact, from the sidelines, it appeared he could only move his head up and down, in desperate attempts to raise the rest of his body.
The trainers quickly made their way onto the field while the rest of us watched nervously. We could see they stabilized his head, helmet still on, and stayed gathered around him as he lay helplessly on the field in the blazing sun. More trainers and coaches made their way on and off the field to him, before calling both young teams to center field to speak to them quietly and then have a group prayer. Then they were sent to their respective sidelines, where both teams knelt in worrisome limbo, waiting to see what would happen next.
The trainers remained extremely professional, but we parents and fans were heartbroken as we watched his sobbing mother be brought down on the field to see her son, kneel beside him, and give what comfort she could. As a mother, I can only imagine the thoughts running through her head! We also wondered where the ambulance was, as one was not present at the game, and it seemed like at least fifteen minutes before a rescue truck arrived and slowly made its way around the track to the area closest to where Evan was lying still. (We never saw his legs move once during the entire time he was there!)
Evan was transferred and strapped down to a backboard before being transported to the ambulance, teammates gathering round, saying words of support and encouragement.
And while this story has a happy ending–Evan was released later with just a very sore, sprained neck–it did make me wonder why an ambulance wasn’t there the whole time. Perhaps cutbacks? (I am sure it is expensive!) Perhaps a risk-analysis? Perhaps some other reason I don’t even know about? Whatever the reason, perhaps it should be rethought…happy endings don’t always happen in football.
And speaking of football, thank goodness the Gators kick off tomorrow! So my wish for this season–in addition to another national championship!–is that the thousands of football players who don a jersey this year have a safe and healthy season… especially my nephew!
Go Gators! (Or whoever you are rooting for…I’m a gracious Gator after all!)