Football season, when dreams are paved into reality

As the summer sun heats up, so do the preparations for the upcoming 2019 football season.
Local high school students can be found lifting the heavy iron and running drills in preparation for the opening of August practices, but they are not alone. College and NFL teams around the country are making final preparations also in anticipation of the start of football season.
Football is more than a game in this part of the country. It is a way of life and part of the culture.
As the opening date draws near for kickoff, flags and decals of favored teams can be seen in display everywhere. The colors of crimson and white or blue and gold become part of the everyday color scheme around the state.
As fans and teams prepare for that much awaited faithful day, the news heats up with the latest controversies, trades and pre-season outlook. Yep, the atmosphere completely changes. Baseball is a thing of the past, and attention turns toward the gridiron.
It’s a bittersweet moment at the start of the football season.
Every fan can sense that history will be made during the course of the season and hopes run high that their team will stand with a championship at the end.
Many high school football players prepare to start their final season for their respective schools as a senior.
They will try to reach and grasp for every memory. Every play, every game, every pep rally, every loss and every win will be remembered by them for the rest of their lives.
Many players will find themselves standing on a college field for the very first time. They have overcome the hump of landing a college scholarship and now things get tough. They are only one level away from making the NFL.
College is their open door to a world of opportunities. They are faced with the enormous task of keeping grades up, making practices, performing well enough to get playing time and making a name for themselves within a national stage.
I often try to dig into their minds to get a sense of the way that they must feel.
How awkward it must be to go from playing at a high school in front of a few hundred people into a college stadium with thousands in attendance and millions watching around the world on national television.
That’s a lot for anyone to take in.
In my hockey playing experience, I faced a similar challenge. I went from being a nobody, to putting on a professional jersey as a team member in one day. I had no time to prepare for that transition, so I can relate to their feelings.
It is an awesome time of year for the game of football and really something to stand back and witness.
Some of these kids will become household names over the course of time.
One day, they will look back and see the path that they have walked and the challenges they have faced to get there.
When football season comes, dreams are paved into reality.