You are the Parent of a Long Snapper
At first, you were confused. You definitely were no expert on football but you did know the basics. And, within those basics, you knew that no one actually wanted to be a long snapper. So, when your 8th grade son came up to you and said he might want to go to a long snapping camp, you were baffled. You were going to be the parent of a long snapper?
You remember the moment like it was yesterday. Your son, who was always a decent athlete, guided you through the website (yes, an actual site devoted to long snapping) as though he had studied it for hours. He knew all the Ins and Outs of the site, he was trying to “hook” you into registering him.
You appeased your son’s zeal. You still weren’t sure on the whole process until Bruce came over. Bruce was your son’s best friend. They had been friends ever since they had the same kindergarten teacher. Your son was the good athlete who was very intelligent while Bruce was a very good soccer player that had more looks than common sense. Wits aside, Bruce was a great kid that always landed on his feet (and used them). Anyway, he came over (during the long snapping propaganda ceremony that your son was putting on) and chimed in.
Bruce was actually going to the same camp but as a kicker. Your son and Bruce were both headed off to high school and already had planned how to stay united. Since the local high school’s soccer team was, to put it nicely, sub par, Bruce decided to forgo soccer and just become a kicker for the football team. Bruce would be the kicker and your son would the snapper. It was perfect. They were inseparable off the field and now would be the same on the field as well. You were going to be a parent of a long snapper?
You caved after hours of persistence from your son and Bruce (actually like ten minutes). You sent your soon to be high schooler off with Bruce to the camp. Bruce went to his side of the field; your son went to his. Bruce learned how to kick; your son learned how to snap. You were becoming a parent of a long snapper?
This went on for the next four years. To say the process was smooth would not be accurate. The first year, the coach couldn’t care less about your son and his “position” on the team. For Bruce, it was not much better. Freshman teams aren’t really a juggernaut on offense so there were little opportunities for the two boys to shine. That, and the fact that your boy was, average at best with his snapping, made life a bit tough during snapping season (which is year round).
Sophomore year was big for the boys…well, a boy. Bruce really grew with his kicking and physically. Puberty high-fived him and guided him into the weight room where he put on about twenty pounds of muscle that he used simply for kicking. He was becoming a monster on campus and on the field. Even though, he was “only” a kicker, he was still regarded as “that guy” on the team. Bruce, only a sophomore, was already starting to dominate the kicking camps. Life was good, no great, for him.
For your son, things were more challenging. Puberty eluded him at first. A tad thin, gawky even, your boy simply couldn’t put on weight. Muscle was not even close to hitting his frame and you would have been happy with even some fat on him. Nothing would stick to his bones. Frustrating was an understatement. The one thing kept your son going: his snapping. He kept at the camps, he worked on his form, and he loved the camaraderie. He was part of a group…almost a gang. You met parents. You didn’t mind the camps. It was becoming fun for you as well. You were becoming a parent of a long snapper?
Junior year flew by and so did the notion of your son being thin. He filled out very well and looked like an athlete. Camps became more frequent and social media allowed you to stay connected to other parents of long snappers. You even became very good friends with Bruce’s parents. It was hard not to since the boys were always together and you had a common denominator to discuss. Bruce’s recruiting took off; he flourished at the kicking camps and was even offered a couple scholarships to major universities. All the while, your son snapped the ball to “the star.” Bruce was the stud kicker and your son was “the kid who snapped it to Bruce.”
As popular as Bruce became at school, on the recruiting sites and on blogs, he never forgot your son. Bruce knew how “his” key plays during the game actually began. Bruce knew exactly were the play started. Your son and Bruce practiced non-stop throughout the year. Your son snapped the footballs, a random would hold and Bruce would kick it long and far. Day in and day out, week in and week out, camp after camp, Bruce and your son were a team. You are the parent of a long snapper.
Senior year comes along and wouldn’t you know it, your son’s football team was doing well, very well. Games were like parties, everyone knew about Bruce and you were part of the whitewash. The crowd cheered for every kick like it was a game winner. No matter if it was a P.A.T. or a 50 harder, the other parents roared congratulations to Bruce’s parents after each and every time a kick sailed through the uprights. You sat right next to them and congratulated them just as everyone else did. And, after every kick, which, of course meant a great snap from your son, Bruce’s parents, almost in unison, would look your way and simply mouth the words “Thank you.” They never said it out loud but you knew they meant it from the bottom of the hearts. They knew their son’s success was directly correlated to all the time Bruce and your son spent together at camps, on the field and watching games on TV. There was no kick made without a snap.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, the team made the championship game. Everyone was excited, BEYOND excited. The kids, school, the town was overflowing with excitement. Everyone wanted to see a perfect game. Unfortunately, Mother Nature couldn’t care less. The early December game meant chance for rain and that seemed to be simply what would happen on that Saturday night.
Your son and Bruce took some extra practice that week. You and Bruce’s father went with them. You both created as many wild scenarios as possible. Nothing would surprise them. By Wednesday, when the weather report made it clear that rain would be a legit possibility, you even brought a gallon of water to saturate the footballs so your son could simulate a wet snap. Your son was not a fan of this drill and never really could manage to create his perfect snap. You are definitely the parent of a Long Snapper.
Game night and the weather, thus far, was cooperating. It was cold, very cold, but no rain at all. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth is how the score went all game long. The teams were very evenly matched. You were usually a quiet fan but even found yourself cheering out loud at several points in the game.
The game came down to the final five minutes and wouldn’t you know it, the sky decided to open up and cleanse the players. When the first drop hit your jacket, your heart sunk fifty miles and you couldn’t breathe. On cue, your son looked up at you and you could see him swallow and look at you with his big, brown eyes. His look seemed to say “Not this, anything but this. Please dad, make the rain stop.” Your eyes welled up, emotions grabbed you, there was nothing you could do expect yell to him, “You got this!” You are the parent of a Long Snapper.
The rain came down in buckets. It seemed to increase by the second. The game began to get sloppy. No one had any footing, no one could run, no one could throw, and it was becoming ugly. Somehow, the football gods blessed your son’s team and allowed them a big run off the right tackle. The running back burst off the end and was gone for a 60-yard pickup. He eventually was brought down on the opposing teams ten-yard line. Everyone was so excited; they barely realized the clock was almost out. There were three-seconds left. There was time for one play from the ten-yard line.
The coach was not an ignorant man. He motioned for Bruce. You saw it, Bruce’s parents saw it. You looked at each other. Emotions overflowing. You all nodded at the same time with the look of “Here we go.” Your boy looked at you, you heart was pounding. The rain was pouring and that only added to the wetness coming from your eyes. You tried to remain strong for your son’s sake. It was almost too much. You felt like you couldn’t catch your breath.
All the years of training, all the hours of doing drills, all the camps, should make this moment easy for your son and Bruce. Your son slowly walked to the ball, set his feet and turned to check the progress of Bruce. Your son set up on the overly saturated ball, and he wiggled his fingers. You knew his routine; you were the parent of a Long Snapper.
The snap came out quickly but it was not a tight spiral. You gulped. Time stopped. The ball barely rotated. The ball flew over the holder’s outstretched arms. Your worst nightmare. You almost vomited. You felt a thousand eyes look at you. You tried to stay focused on your son. You didn’t look around. You felt as though were spiraling into an abyss. Your son just had a bad snap and, as everyone else would think, lost the game.
Trying to avoid every fan’s eyes, you finally caught a glimpse of your son through the wreckage of the play and noticed a yellow flag on the field. You hoped, you prayed, for it to be on the other team. It was! It turns out the nose guard illegally hit your son just before the snap and that is what caused the wayward snap. Bruce’s parents patted you on the back. You got closer to them. You and them, just like Bruce and your son, were a team.
The game winning kick cleared the field goal posts easily. Your son’s snap was perfect. It was just like the countless other snaps you had seen him execute at camps, in the garage, on the front drive way, in the backyard, on the field, in street and on the field. You are the parent of a Long Snapper.
The crowd swarmed Bruce’s parents in the crowd and as they made their way onto the field. It was mass of humanity and it converged on the hero of the game, Bruce. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people chanted his name, they lifted him up, HE had won the game. He made the game winning kick. He won the championship. He did it all.
You avoided the masses and went to the spot on the field where your son snapped the ball. He was there, waiting for you. You hugged him as hard as anyone as ever held someone they loved and were proud of. As you opened your tear filled eyes, you caught Bruce’s parents looking at you. They were just twenty yards away but it might as well have been twenty miles. You were with your son, the Long Snapper, isolated from everyone and they were with their son, the kicker, the hero of the game, being mobbed by hundreds. As your eyes met with Bruce’s parent’s, who clearly understood the process, you saw them mouth the words to you, “Thank you!” You nodded, took everything in and winked back….
You ARE the parent of the Long Snapper.