This evening Trevor and I dropped by the Servite practice to soak in some of the atmosphere before the Mater Dei showdown. I only say "evening" because this was the first time we went to a practice and it was dark out. Welcome, winter.
Talking to some of the fans, players, and coaches at Servite was a real pleasure. I got a strong sense of camaraderie from everyone present. There was a really cool mini-awards ceremony after practice. Each of the assistant coaches gave a short speech and an award to a player who had worked hard and performed well in the previous week's practices and game.
Most compelling was the final award, given to two players in recognition of their all around efforts not only during last week, but during the whole season. They were two players who worked hard on and off the field, but didn't necessarily see that much playing time on Friday nights. Coach Thomas spoke about how successful they've been in the classroom, and the dedication they maintain on the football field.
This award presentation drew the most applause. Coach Thomas told me afterwards that the star players on the team really respect and appreciate the less prominent players who still bust their tail and work hard. D.J. Shoemate, one of those stars, mentioned the exact same thing.
This team is definitely focused, and hungry to finally get another win against Mater Dei (it's been a while). But they also seem to have things in perspective. Everyone tonight seemed to love the game of football. More than that, they seem to love the life lessons that football can teach.
Coach Thomas seemingly does a great job of teaching those lessons. Off the field, his players will be successful. On the field success on Friday remains to be seen.~SS