I didn’t grow up in a sports family. I mean, yes, we played rec sports and watched an occasional game on TV, but none of it was really important during my childhood. I mean, I kind of thought it was, but I really didn’t know how wrong I was until I got married.
Because I married a Crutchfield. And Crutchfields are sports people. Vance was a loud sports fan. Watching Sunday afternoon games at his parents’ house took some getting used to for me because he would often suddenly just scream at the TV. A touchdown, an interception, or a sack would have him jumping up and down, clapping or yelling.
When he coached, he would often tell the new kids, “I’m loud. Don’t let it scare you. I’m loud but I’m not mean.” He wasn’t wrong. His booming voice could always be heard across the gym, field, pitch or mat. And almost always, the message he was sending was positive. “Good! Good!” accompanied by one or two loud claps.
Friday night I went a high school football game. My daughter is cheering this year and I love being able to watch her.
At this particular game, they were really strict about all the covid regulations. Masks, temp checks, limited spectators, and even separate bathrooms and concessions for the visitors. Because of this, the bathrooms were about a jillion miles away from the bleachers. And of course, I had to pee with just a few minutes left in the game.
As I was making my way back to the crowd I heard a loud, deep voice yell out from the stands, “Go get ’em, boys!” I was still a long ways off from the stands but I heard it clear as day. And it made me smile.
For the first time in a long time, something reminded me of Vance and it didn’t make me cry. It didn’t even make me feel sad.
Obviously, the voice wasn’t his. I mean, that was impossible. I knew that. Shoot, I knew exactly whose voice it was. It was a dad, cheering for the boy he loves playing in the game he loves. It was positive. It was ridiculously loud. It was perfect. It was exactly what Vance would have done.
And that made me smile.