Category Archives: memories

Remembering Rich Mullins

"It's not gonna matter if you have a few scars. It will matter if you didn't live." Rich Mullins

You might remember that I mentioned back in April that I announced to the entire Ichthus Christian Music Festival that Christy was not, in fact my girlfriend. Of course, we all know she really was my girlfriend by this point. We just hadn’t admitted it to each other. If you don’t remember that post, or have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, you can go to this post and catch up. Don’t worry. I’ll wait for you. It won’t take that long to read.

That was also the last time I heard Rich Mullins perform. I did get to meet him about a year later, but I missed out on hearing him sing. If you don’t remember that story, you really should read it.  It’s OK. I promise I’ll wait for you.

There are a few things I remember about that concert, even though it was twenty years ago. I remember he was barefoot onstage. At least, I’m pretty sure he was barefoot onstage. I also remember he sang a song that he had written that Amy Grant had originally made famous. When he introduced it, he jokingly said that she had screwed it up. Or maybe he wasn’t joking? I guess you can decide for yourself.

I spent some time listening to Rich today. I’m not gonna lie. I wept when I heard some of his songs. In some ways, I think his music speaks to me today more than it did when i first heard him. A few musicians have taken up his mantle, but there will never be another Rich.

Next year marks the twentieth anniversary of the crash that took his life. I think it would be great to put together some kind of tribute to him, celebrating the impact he made on countless lives in the past as well as the present. I’m not sure what it will be, but I think it should include some form of audience participation. I don’t know. Maybe some kind of crowdsourced video or something?

We have a few months to think about it. I’m sure we can come up with something. Right? Who’s with me?

 

Just a boy and a dream about a motorcycle

When I was very young – probably five or six – my Uncle Don had a motorcycle. One day, I got to ride that motorcycle. This is the same Uncle Don who was me when I saw The Empire Strikes Back for the first time, for those of you who are keeping score. I don’t remember if I asked or if it was offered, but I do remember climbing onto the bike and flying around their yard as Uncle Don took us for a lap or two around their house.

The more I think of it, the more I’m convinced that I was the one who came up with the idea and asked for a ride. I mean, come on. Who could say “no” to this adorable kid?

I was the Ring Bearer at my aunt and uncle's wedding.

I mean, let’s be honest here. I was their favorite nephew at this point in my life. Of course, that might not be saying much. I might’ve still been their only nephew at that point, other than my brother. And since Kevin was so young at that point, I’ll just go ahead and announce that I was their favorite nephew. No need to take any votes or anything. Just look at that sweet, innocent face and tell me he wouldn’t be your favorite nephew, too.

While the details of who came up with the idea might be a little bit fuzzy, I can tell you this: It was amazing. I know the rush that this guy felt. I was on Cloud Nine. In fact, I was still so excited about what had happened that I ambushed Grandmama when she arrived at their house. I told her everything about it.

Bzzzzzz!

Wrong answer.

I probably shouldn’t have said anything to Grandmama. She was not happy. And she let her son know about it. I still feel bad for getting Uncle Don in trouble with his momma. I hope he thought it was worth it. Because I sure did.

Fast forward some 35-ish years…

Weldu loves talking about driving. That really shouldn’t be a surprise. I mean, he’ll be turning sixteen soon. And while he talks about driving a car quite a bit, I get the impression that his real dream is to own a motorcycle. He’s even asked me to buy him one. Of course, he doesn’t want just any motorcycle. He wants the nice, shiny, super-expensive ones. My standard answer to that request?

“Get a job.”

Because that’s really the only way he’s going to be able to get any kind of bike like that. So he can add that to the list of things he wants to use his not-yet-existent income to pay for. He already has plans to by stuff like a new phone, but he’s also planning on living in Europe for a while and he’s planning a return trip to Ethiopia. And he wants to save up some money for that.

So he probably definitely isn’t getting a motorcycle any time soon. But that doesn’t mean he can’t dream about riding one. Right? And if he could ride one? Well, that would just be fantastic now, wouldn’t it?

Enter Uncle Don. Again.

While we were in Evansville over the weekend, we helped Uncle Don move some things into storage. While we were loading the trailer, I showed Weldu Uncle Don’s bike. I told him he should ask Uncle Don if he would take him for a ride after we were done moving everything.adjusting-weldus-motorcycle-helmet

It took a little coaxing, but he did eventually ask him. And when the moving was done, we grabbed a helmet for Weldu and away they went.

weldu-and-uncle-don-leaving-on-a-motorcycle weldu-and-uncle-don-after-their-motorcycle-ride

Considering the amount of grief Uncle Don got from Grandmama about my magical motorcycle ride, there was some discussion about whether to show Christy the pictures from the ride or not.

weldu-and-uncle-don-on-a-motorcycle

I’m not going to keep something like this a secret. Weldu needed to be able to share the excitement of this moment with his mom. So of course I told Christy about the whole thing.

Or did I…?

 

5 ways Crater Lake prepared me for life

5 Ways Crater Lake Camp Prepared Me for Life

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Twenty years ago this month, I loaded my backpack, laced up my hiking boots, and boarded a bus that was bound for an Amtrak station. On that day, I said goodbye to what might have been the most memorable Summer I’ve ever had. After my seventh visit* to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmaron, New Mexico, I knew that a significant chapter of my life was coming to a close.

I was not going to return to Scouting Paradise in 1997. I was already committed to taking a Summer class at Milligan. 1998 was out, too. I was already on track for an internship that Summer. And who knew what was going to happen beyond college, but I was 99.99% sure that spending another summer on staff at Philmont was not going to be in the proverbial cards. I knew that my stint as a member of the 1996 Crater lake staff was going to be my last hurrah.

And I was going to make the most of it.

I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with during that final Summer. Andy, Ron, Karl, and Jon were some pretty great guys. They still are. Sometimes, I felt a bit out of my league as their teammate. They were hilarious. Creativity oozed out of their pores. You know how everyone talks about the Magnificent Seven from the Atlanta Games in 1996? I believe the 1996 Crater Lake crew was just as magnificent. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that I was in the presence of greatness the Summer of 1996.

There are a lot of great memories that I still carry with me from that Summer: getting pelted by golfball-sized hail, climbing on the roof of our cabin to gaze into the vast expanse of stars every night, throwing a loaf of bread across the dinner table any time someone asked for some bread, and the hundreds of Scouts we taught how to climb a spar pole, just to name a few.

Spar Pole Climbing at Crater Lake in 1996

The Summer of 96 was life-changing for me. I became friends with an amazing group of guys. I made some amazing memories. And it prepared me for the rest of my life.

5 ways serving on staff at Crater Lake at Philmont Scout Ranch prepared me for life:

Continue reading

This is why I got misty-eyed at Aly’s final choir concert

Aly's Final Concert

A few weeks ago, we gathered in Aly’s school gym for one final time as the 8th grade choirs gave one final middle school concert. As they gathered to sing the final song, I have to admit that I had a bit of an emotional moment. I even got a little misty-eyed. I probably wasn’t the only one. But it probably wasn’t for the reason y’all think.

Yes, it’s crazy that our Aly is already out of middle school and is going to be a Freshman next year. It’s a little concerning how fast everything is flying by. I was warned about such things, and I’ve tried to soak in as many moments as possible. And it’s amazing to see how our little girl who used to talk to bees and make mud angels in the puddles grow up right before our eyes. But that’s really not the reason I felt this wave of emotion come over me. And it’s not because this was her final choir performance, since she’s not planning on participating in any of the choirs or singing groups in high school.

No, there was a much more personal reason. In order to explain why I felt the way I did, I have to give you a little bit of background. So let’s rewind the clock some 25-ish years.

I hated middle school.

There. I said it. It’s out in the open for everyone to know. I hated almost everything about middle school. I hated riding the bus.* I hated algebra. I hated the cliques. I hated the inside jokes and the slang everyone would try to use. I hated being made fun of. And having come from a relatively small school where you knew everyone and everyone knew you, I hated being at such a large school where it was hard for me to know anyone.

I wasn’t a Jock. I wasn’t a Prep. I wasn’t a Hood or a Nerd. I was an outsider who didn’t really fit in with the rest of the outsiders. And I most certainly didn’t fit in with the popular kids. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. So I was overwhelmed throughout most of my middle school  career.

Me in 6th grade

I hated middle school.

I’m sure there were good things about middle school, but I’ve unintentionally blocked them out. OK, that’s not entirely true. I do remember some good things. I was baptized while I was in middle school. I became heavily involved in Scouting and came under the leadership of some pretty amazing mentors who poured life into me, even when I was silently miserable. My parents did the best they could. They’d never parented a middle school student before. And that’s funny, because I’d never been a middle school student before. Looking back, I’m pretty sure we were all just making it up as we went along. In spite of the struggles, I did know they loved me. But school itself?  I’ve blocked out most of my middle school experience. A lot of it is a blur. And I think I’m OK with that. Because here’s some of the stuff I do remember…

I remember the beginning of Summer Break between my final year of elementary school and my first year of middle school. I was told that the rising 7th and 8th graders had a “hit list.” You didn’t want to be on this hit list because that meant you were going to get beat up. Every day. At the beginning of Summer Break, a well-meaning friend told me that I was on the hit list. That ruined my Summer. It probably helped ruin the first semester of 6th grade, too. I was never beaten up in middle school. Never got anywhere near a fight.** My friend did. Once. Kind of. Actually, he was just pummelled while the rest of the school watched because he refused to fight back.

Speaking of that friend, he was one of the only friends I really had in middle school. And I remember constantly teasing him and mistreating him because I thought it would get others to think I was cooler than I really was.

I remember people making fun of my hair. Relentlessly. Repeatedly. Nonstop. Unceasingly. You get the picture?

Me in 8th grade

I remember feeling so much pressure to be accepted that I lied to people about having a girlfriend who lived out of the country. While I really did know some girls who live overseas, I want anywhere close to being in any type of dating relationship with any of them.

It was horrible. I can’t imagine what life would’ve been like if social media was thrown into the mix. You have no idea how thankful I am that it wouldn’t exist until long after I was out of middle school.

I hated middle school.

About a year ago, I had the chance to attend a class reunion at our middle school. I originally planned on attending, but work obligations prevented me from making the trip to my hometown. There was a part of me that was bummed. In spite of my horrible middle school experience, some of my middle school classmates did become friends of mine. In high school. So it would have been nice to see them. But I have to be honest. I was mostly pretty OK with not going back. Why relive such an ugly time in my life?

So as I watched Aly perform on stage, I thought about how positive her final year of middle school had been. Of course, there have been some rocky moments during her middle school career. That’s part of the middle school experience. But she is moving on to high school as a grounded, confident young woman.

I secretly shed a little tear and secretly wiped it away before anyone could see it. Because while I know high school can have its share of drama and challenges, it is so much better than middle school. I know that it feels like middle school never ends. But there is a light at the end of that tunnel and it can lead to better things. Much better things. I’m convinced that Aly is going to love high school.

That tear also leaked out because of my great sense of relieve. Two of our children have successfully navigated the middle school minefield. We’ll have three high school students at the beginning of this school year. That means we only have one more kid to go through middle school. So in my head, I gave Christy an imaginary  celebratory “high five.” They made it through middle school. And I think they’ve turned out to be some pretty amazing kids. Just one more to go.*** And that’s a few years away.

We’ve got this.

If you know a middle school student, especially one who is struggling, please be there for him or her. Be an encourager. Be a shoulder to lean on. Please pass on the message that it will get better. So hang in there.

Middle school was not the end of the world. It gets better. So much better.

And I guess that was a good lesson to learn. No matter the circumstances that surround you, it’s not the end of the world. Like my Grandmama used to say, “This, too, shall pass.”

*I did think George, our bus driver was pretty cool, though. He probably let us get away with more than we should have during our daily commutes, but he tried to ease the boring bus ride. In spite of his efforts, I still didn’t like riding the bus. I was much happier walking to school like I did in elementary school.

**Shoot, the only time I was ever in anything close to a fight (other than with my brother) was when I was in 1st grade. And that was more like people running after each other and taunting each other.

***For a variety of reasons, I’m glad we didn’t enroll Weldu in school as soon as we got home. I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like for him to try to navigate the final semester of 8th grade. Middle school is hard enough when you’ve grown up here in the States!

Chocolate covered peaches, Coca-Cola, and a Date-iversary

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareMemories #CollectiveBias

Happy Date-iversary #ShareMemories #ad

Music. It has such a powerful connection in our lives. As a recovering Band Geek, I really shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve known this since high school. Music is powerful. When you hear a few words or a couple of notes from a song and you’re instantly transported to another time, another place. It evokes strong memories. Some songs can make you cry. Others can make you dance like nobody’s watching. This Summer, Coca-Cola™ has tapped into the almost mystical connection we have with music by adding song lyrics to their bottles, inviting all of us to “Share a Coke and a Song.”

Share a Song Bottles #ShareMemories #ad

Twenty years ago this month, I was smitten. I’m still smitten, but everything was all brand-new in May of 1996. After an entire school year of pursuing her, I finally gathered up enough nerve to ask Christy out on a date. I don’t know what I was nervous about. For all practical purposes, we’d really been dating for the past several months. But nothing was ever “official.” So when the time came to actually ask her out, my heart skipped about three or four beats, my forehead gathered tiny drops of sweat, and my hands shook like they’d never shaken before. I was nervous.

Of course, she said yes. And so we went on our first official date twenty years ago this month. We didn’t have smartphones back then, so we don’t really have any photos to document the event. But I promise you, it was a memorable evening. We did the traditional date night: dinner and a movie. I honestly don’t remember what we ate, but I remember talking to Christy with such ease and comfort that it already felt like we’d known each other for years. It was an amazing dinner. Then we went to the movie. It was the animated one about a boy and a big-huge peach. It was…

well… Continue reading

Well you don't see a restaurant like that every day

Christy and I have eaten at some unique places over the years. Like The Parson’s Table in Jonesborough, Tennesse –  an old church building that was converted into a fancy shmancy restaurant (now it’s a special events facility). There’s St. Joseph’s Brewery in Indianapolis, another old church facility that was converted into a microbrewery not too long ago. We tried the poutine.

It was delicious.  Continue reading

40 for 40

Lordy! Lordy!
Look who’s forty!

That’s what you’re supposed to say. Right? Well, whether that’s really the case or not, I’ve come to accept the fact that I’m now a forty year old.

In recognition of this landmark achievement, Dad encouraged me to take a few minutes and think back on my story – where I’ve been, who I’ve met, what I’ve done – and reflect on that. I took it to heart. And I’ve been thinking about it a lot, honestly.

During my reflection, I thought, “You know, I should write these down.” So I did. And now I’m sharing them with you. Some are serious. Some are less than serious. I hope you can tell the difference. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be challenged a little bit along the way.

40 thoughts for 40 years  Continue reading

Close Encounters With Space Shuttle Discovery

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I’ve taken several opportunities to share what I remember about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. It was one of those traumatic national events that is burned into my long-term memory. I still remember it like it was yesterday. It could be argued that my childhood dream died that day.

I also remember the day US astronauts returned to space. I was in middle school and our teacher turned on the radio so we could listen to the launch. I was on the edge of my seat, hoping against hope that the shuttle would arrive safely into Earth’s orbit. Although I didn’t plan on being an astronaut anymore, I was still thrilled that we had returned to space. I’m pretty sure I saw my  social studies teacher wipe away a tear during the broadcast.

The shuttle that ushered the United States back into manned spaceflight Space Shuttle Discovery.  Continue reading

7 Popcorn Toppings That Will Change Your Movie Night

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MakeItAMovieNight #CollectiveBias

7 Popcorn Toppings

There is nothing like a family movie night. With everyone’s hectic schedules and all of us running this way and that, it’s hard to get our whole family to sit down in the same room for 10 minutes at the same time. So when we’re able to gather around the TV for a movie night, we want to make sure we’re maximizing our time together and making memories along the way.

Our most recent Family Movie Night? War Room with a nice big bowl of popcorn topped with peanut M&M’S® Chocolate Candies (more on this amazing combination in just a minute) and a nice, cold bottle of Coca-Cola. It’s a perfect Movie Night snack.

Ever since it was released in movie theaters earlier this year, I’ve heard a lot about how good War Room is. “It’s better than any of the other movies the Kendrick Brothers have made,” was a review I heard on a regular basis. I wanted to see it. I wanted to see if it lived up to the hype. But the theaters weren’t showing it anymore by the time I could go see it. But now that War Room is a new release at Walmart, I was excited to finally get to see the movie.

WarRoom

There’s a lot of truth in this film. And I think it lived up to the hype. It certainly did not disappoint. It’s something I suggest you include in one of your future movie nights. Because if we’re going to make memories with our families, why not watch something that will help them change the world while we’re at it?

Growing up, we had regular family movie nights. We’d rent a movie from the local video store, grab a bottle of Coca-Cola, and head down into the basement and begin watching a family-friendly movie together. As the movie started, mom would come downstairs with a big bowl of popcorn for us to share.

Oh, that popcorn.

I don’t remember many of the movies we watched together. But I do remember that popcorn. It wasn’t just any old bowl of popcorn. This popcorn was different. It was Taco Popcorn. She would make other toppings, too. Some weren’t that great. But others, like Taco Popcorn, were pretty amazing.

Every time I sit down with a bowl of popcorn, I think of the different toppings my mom used to make for our popcorn. I believe popcorn is the perfect movie night snack. It’s great on its own. But it’s also a great vehicle for some pretty amazing toppings.

In the spirit of my mom’s memorable popcorn toppings, here are some toppings that you really need to try. They’re pretty simple. But you might not ever eat popcorn the same way again.

7 Popcorn Toppings That Will Change Your Movie Night

These toppings are amazingly simple. But they’ll revolutionize your movie night experience. Of course, you’re welcome to adapt and adjust these recipes to your own personal taste as you take your popcorn experience to the next level.

M&M’S® Chocolate Candies Popcorn

MMs Popcorn

I remember when I first tried this topping a few years ago. I wondered where it had been all my life. I was definitely missing out. I love M&M’S® Chocolate Candies – especially the Plain ones. I also love popcorn. Combining the two? Well, that’s just a match made in heaven. The chocolatey goodness of the candy mixed with the buttery saltiness of the warm popcorn? Oh, it’s an experience beyond any mere human description.

This is a classic combination that everyone must try.

Ingredients:

1 Package M&M’S® Chocolate Candies (any variety)
1 Pop Up Bowl Orville Redenbacher Popcorn

What to do:

1. Pop popcorn, following instructions on the package.
2. Pour M&M’S® Chocolate Candies into bag of freshly popped popcorn. You should do this while the popcorn is still warm because it will soften the candies ever so slightly. I promise: it enhances the popcorn eating experience.
3. Eat and enjoy!

Curry Coconut Popcorn

Curry Coconut Popcorn

We’re big fans of Indian food at our house. So this warm, spicy creation is right up our alley. While I’m usually not a fan of coconut, I could eat this popcorn all day, every day.

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
2 Tablespoons Coconut Flakes
1 Tablespoon Curry Powder
1 Tablespoon Ginger Powder
1 Pop Up Bowl Orville Redenbacher Popcorn

What to do:

1. Melt coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl (approximately 30 seconds).
2. Combine curry, ginger, and coconut in the oil. It will look like a thin paste.
3. Pop popcorn, following instructions on the package.
4. Mix spice paste in the popcorn.
5. Eat and enjoy!

Taco Fiesta Popcorn

Taco Fiesta Popcorn

This is the recipe that started my popcorn topping discovery adventure. It’s amazingly simple. But it’s also amazingly good. I still think of my mom every time I have this popcorn.

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons Butter
1 ½ Tablespoons of your favorite Taco Seasoning
1 Pop Up Bowl Orville Redenbacher Popcorn

What to do:

1. Melt butter in microwave-safe dish.
2. Mix taco seasoning into melted butter.
3. Pop popcorn, following instructions on the package.
4. Pour popcorn and seasoning mixture into a gallon-sized bag.
5. Shake bag until popcorn is evenly coated.
6. Eat and enjoy!

Cinnamon and Sugar Popcorn

Cinnamon and Sugar Popcorn

Cinnamon and sugar on top of your popcorn? Yes, please! Experts say that the perfect ratio is ¼ cup of sugar to 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon. I like it a little sweeter than that, so I add another dash or two of sugar to my mixture.

Ingredients:

¼ Cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 Pop Up Bowl Orville Redenbacher Popcorn

What to do:

1. Pop popcorn, following instructions on the package.
2. Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.
3. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture over popcorn. Don’t skimp! Sprinkle liberally so you cover all of the popcorn.
4. Place remaining mixture in an airtight container and store for later use.
5. Eat and enjoy!

Peppermint Paradise Popcorn

Peppermint Paradise Popcorn

My wife introduced this treat to our family a few years ago. While we generally reserve this treat for the winter months, there’s really no reason you can’t have this cool topping any day of the year!

Ingredients:

2 2-oz. cubes Vanilla Almond Bark
2-3 Candy Canes
1 Pop Up Bowl Orville Redenbacher Popcorn

What to do:

1. Pop popcorn, following instructions on the package.
2. Place candy canes in a small plastic bag.
3. Crush candy canes.
4. Melt vanilla almond bark in microwave-safe bowl. Allow to slightly cool.
5. Pour slightly cooled almond bark over freshly-popped popcorn.
6. Mix popcorn and almond bark.
7. Sprinkle candy canes over popcorn.
8. Eat and enjoy!

Garlic Parmesan Popcorn

Garlic Parmesan Popcorn

Another simple recipe. You’re welcome to adjust the garlic to Parmesan recipe according to your family’s taste. To be honest, we usually estimate our garlic and Parmesan, sprinkling each ingredient in until we’re satisfied with the amount.

Ingredients:

½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
½ Cup Garlic Powder
1 Pop Up Bowl Orville Redenbacher Popcorn

What to do:

1. Pop popcorn, following instructions on the package.
2. Combine Parmesan and garlic powder in a bowl.
3. Sprinkle over popcorn. Store remainder in an airtight container.
4. Eat and enjoy!

Buffalo Ranch Popcorn

Buffalo Ranch Popcorn

Do you like Buffalo Wings? Then you’ll love Buffalo Ranch Popcorn!

Ingredients:

⅓ Cup of your favorite Hot Sauce
3 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon of your favorite Ranch Salad Dressing Mix
1 Pop Up Bowl Orville Redenbacher Popcorn

What to do:

1. Melt butter in microwave-safe bowl. Allow to cool, slightly.
2. Pop popcorn, following instructions on the package.
3. Combine hot sauce and dressing mix in melted butter.
4. Pour popped popcorn into a large mixing bowl.
5. Add sauce mixture to the bowl.
6. Toss popcorn in sauce until evenly coated.
7. Eat and enjoy!

War Room Movie Night #MakeItAMovieNight #ad

I hope these popcorn toppings help add another layer to your family movie night memories. I don’t know about you, but I want to build on the memories I’m sharing with my own kids. We want our family movie nights to be an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives. Fortunately, Walmart has made it easy to make it a movie night together.

In store collage

If you purchase four eligible products in one transaction between now and February 2, 2016, you’ll receive a $10 VUDU movie code* via email (*while supplies last. Limit one [1] per person). Simply purchase a 6-pack of Orville Redenbacher popcorn (you can find them here on facebook, twitter, and instagram), M&M’S® Chocolate Candies (facebook, twitter, and instagram, and pinterest, a 6-pack of Coca-Cola (facebook, twitter, instagram, and pinterest) .5 liters, and select DVDs from Sony Pictures (facebook, twitter, instagram, and pinterest) – including War Room, a movie that has changed lives around the country. Snap a picture of your receipt and upload it here for your free $10 VUDU movie code. Then you’ll have enough snacks and entertainment for multiple family movie nights! You’ll also be ready to try these amazing popcorn toppings and create some family memories of your own!

#MakeItAMovieNight

Looking for more ideas? Be sure to check out more fun movie night ideas here and be sure to take advantage of the VUDU offer and make it a movie night tonight!

Aiden got to practice with champions

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Aiden Freshman Football Button

Aiden’s freshman season with Center Grove football has been over for around a month. He had a pretty good year on the freshman football team. He started off at Cornerback, but was moved to Safety halfway through the season. And he made an immediate impact.

Here he is in his first game as Safety on the freshman team:

Aiden interception at Lawrence CentralYup.

That’s right. It’s an interception.

He claims it was luck. The quarterback threw it right to him. I continue to remind him that while it might have been lucky that he was where the ball was going, he still needed to have the presence of mind to catch the ball and hold onto it. I think I’ve finally convinced him to stop saying it was a lucky play.

He grabbed another pick a few games later. It bounced off the receiver’s hands and he dove to catch it. Maybe all those games playing catcher in Cowan are still paying off.

Shop for official Indianapolis Colts fan gear and authentic collectibles at NFLShop.com

It was fun watching Aiden and the rest of the boys leave it all on the field every Saturday morning. Well….OK….getting him to school early in the morning every Saturday morning wasn’t exactly fun. But watching them play was fun. They went through some tough games. And they lost for the first time since seventh grade. There were definitely some growing pains. But they kept on playing their hearts out. And that was fun to watch.

Once the season was over, the freshman were invited to practice with the J/V and Varsity teams. Aiden jumped at the opportunity. So over the last month or so, he’s been participating in Center Grove’s practices as they prepared for their playoff push.

This play that sent the Trojans to Lucas Oil Stadium? It brought tears to Aiden’s eyes. If you don’t want to watch all of this video, you can just fast-forward to the 7:20 mark to see what I’m talking about.

Pretty cool. Right?

So we took a trip to Lucas Oil Stadium to watch the mighty Center Grove Trojans take on the Penn Kingsman. Both teams were undefeated against teams from Indiana (Penn had lost to a team from Michigan).

Here they come! #GoTrojans #onemore

A photo posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

Kevin and Caedmon came to watch, too. Aly and Aiden hung out in the Student Section during the game. That was totally fine with me. After the semistate win, I told Aiden that he needed to soak in this experience and that he couldn’t take it for granted. I know their school is a big school and the Trojans have a pretty good athletic program. But trips to the State championship are nothing to take for granted. After all, my alma mater’s football team hasn’t won a Regional championship.* Ever.

NFLShop.com - Customized NFL GearSo they watched and cheered from the Student Section. Caedmon and I cheered and yelled and clapped during every third down. Whenever the Trojans would stop their opponent on third down, we’d give each other high-fives. And if the Kingsmen happened to convert on third down, we’d vow to be louder next time. I had fun with him. I hope he did, too.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t really expect to be as emotionally involved in this game as I was. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. I mean, I’m still somewhat emotionally invested in my alma mater’s games. And I don’t know anyone who plays for any of their athletic teams. Over the season I’ve gotten to know some of Center Grove’s players and their parents. I was thrilled to watch these young men leave it all on the field and end the season as Indiana state champions.

Of course, in an effort to encourage Aiden (and Aly, too) to soak it all in because this could have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, we drove down to the school for a post-game celebration. In many ways, it was like any post-game rally that you’ll see in the movies. Some speeches. Some clapping. Some cheering. The playing of the school song. Some more cheering. And then they played the song that they play after the Trojans score at home.

Some post game celebration. #GoTrojans #onemore #STATECHAMPS

A video posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

I have to say, they played this song a lot this season. I think everyone knows the words to this song better than they know the fight song.

It was a great night to be a Trojan. Or the parent of a Torjan. Or a neighbor of a Trojan. It was a hard-fought football game with a fantastic conclusion. The slogan for this year’s football season was “One More.” It was fitting since they were one game short of making it to the State Finals last year. I think next year’s theme should be the same: “One More.” But this time, it’s because they’re hungry for a repeat.

That could be fun.

*In Indiana, the high school football playoffs break down like this: Sectionals >>Regionals>>Semistate>>State Championship. Center Grove is in the largest class in the state, 6A. There are 32 teams in this class.