For the first time in nine years, the Mendham Minute men are gearing up to take the field at Rutgers Stadium in the Group 4 Sec 2 State finals against Phillipsburg Sunday Dec 8th. Some are shocked, some call it a fluke, then there are those of us who believed for a long time.
A Look Back
It was fall of 2005 I was helping to clean out what was a poor excuse of a storage facility for Twin Boro Bears football equipment. TB Bears have called Mendham High School’s fields home for a long time. I asked the exiting president of the league why improvements couldn’t be made. He said, well this may not be our home much longer so nothing is permanent. That night, a few of us took home bins of uniforms some damaged molded or just put away dirty and laundered them. We believed.
The following year numerous complaints were filed from home- owners near the high school field of noise, too many cars parked on the street and the annoyance of the light towers. Emails were exchanged and tempers flew and the lights issue is still …well still an issue. That spring, Bears linked arms with the high school to bring a turf field in. Guess we were home, and staying awhile. Many believed.
The Bears shared the practice fields with the high school. Practice started around the time the high school team finished. As the players passed by in they’re worked over practice “whites” there was no communication or integration, not sure why. That year, the Bears asked permission to bring back a tradition of having Bears night at a home game. Almost the entire program showed up in uniform and lined the field from the stairs to the goal posts. It was the biggest ticket- sell in recent years as well sales for the snack shack, which sold out at half time. The score didn’t matter. The Bears believed.
It was a September evening in 2009 when I walked down to the bottom field at the high school where the Bears varsity football team (current seniors) practiced. One coach was rolling his newly casted leg around in a wheeled contraption as the offense lined up. Speaking to Coach Jim Turner, I asked him if I could coach the team one day. We talked about the talent on his team, and the teams that were upcoming and what a powerhouse of a high school football team they could be. How I wish he could see these boys right now. He believed.
The following year Bears Varsity (current juniors) finished 8-1 with a division title.
The last time they took the field at home the kindergarten and 1st grade flag teams lined the field and cheered them through the goal posts. The excitement was uncontainable. Those little guys knew they were ushering in champions. They believed.
A Look Forward
Since 2006 I have had the best seats in the house to witness this thing we are witnessing and I am still at odds with words to express what I have seen and feel. So let me try to articulate it and please understand I speak from the heart here....
These boys can conjure up in my mind the best of a few of the things I hold dear,late summer, the smell of the field and the start of something bigger than any one of us..the start of a football season for a team and that is not something anyone can explain. No matter if you played for a short time or all your youth and on into college and beyond..if you didn't experience it is hard to explain...I believe.
The current Varsity team is comprised of boys who never quit, while others have come and gone what you see on this team are boys who would not lay down, would not roll over and be satisfied with good enough they all hung tough....I believe.
I know most of them by first name and I know none of them are so full of themselves to think anything but, “Where is the next game? lets go win this thing together as a team” of course that would never come from any of their mouths but its there....and I believe this above all else is their “thing”.
They have built, unknown to them and to we parents some kind of aura and feeling of “good” that words can not completely embody....I believe.
So to these boys I have thought of many things I might say and in the final analysis all I can say is this.....it is High School football some of the best times of your lives, the statistics ,wins, losses, yards gained etc are just numbers on some list somewhere ,mere footnotes to history....all of that means nothing in the end, BUT your membership on this team is what will live in your own hearts and your teammates hearts for ever and you will be better men for it...and know this WE ALL BELIEVE IN EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU...The 42nd MINUTEMAN FOOTBALL TEAM......"
written by two believers