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Saying goodbye

By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger Sports Editor
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Athletics are emotional, and perhaps no more so than when a group of seniors realize they’ve just played their last game together, especially on their home field. Such was the case this past Friday when both Lincoln and Rocklin wrapped up their football seasons. Neither is going to the playoffs, and both lost their final games before the home crowd. I would have to imagine it would be easier to say goodbye to your classmates and teammates if one was going out on a winning note. For those who have seen the ESPN special, “The Boys of Fall,” based on a song by Kenny Chesney, many prominent football coaches and players discuss what it is to play that final game together. Of course, many players have other issues on their minds and don’t realize right away just what is coming to an end, but there are those who do. One of those aware of the situation was senior Fighting Zebras’ lineman Marty Morris. He was stoic, when many of his classmates were unable to hold back the tears, but his words said it all. “Workout hard every day and realize what you’ve got,” the senior said. “If you don’t realize that, there’s no reason to be on a football field. You need to know what you have and play for it. You’re a family, and keep going and play hard.” I was fortunate to have happened onto Morris and his articulate way of expressing what he was experiencing. I had seen him hug his head coach, Ken Lowe, during the emotional post-game gathering at midfield. As I was searching the crowd for other key players to talk to, I happened to run into him and knew he had a special relationship with Lowe. Lowe had told me Morris was the son of one of the Lincoln coaches, and the two had come to know each other when Morris was just beginning youth football. Morris said he and a couple of his friends were going on to college next year, and I suppose that gave him something to look forward to. Football isn’t the only sport where teammates say farewell after that final year. Perhaps it’s why teams try so hard to extend that season a little longer by making it into the playoffs. Still, there is that time when each athlete walks out into that cool, night air and reflects on what has just passed. We comfort ourselves with thoughts of great things to come, but the bonds we developed on those fields and courts of play stay with us forever. Just as singer Bruce Springsteen coined them, “Glory Days.” Indeed, they were.