This blog is a tribute to my son, Bryce Boring. Tuesday I had lunch with him and noticed immediately that there was something weighing heavy on his mind. Bryce has been playing football, a sport he loves and has an amazing passion for, for eight years. Friday night’s game may be his last.
Eight years of pulling up tight fitting pants, buckling shoulder pads, adjusting the tension to his gloves, and pulling his helmet down and locking the chin strap. Eight years of experiencing the emotions of victory and defeat, basking in the camaraderie and trust of his team mates, and the violent battles on the field against the enemy…now the end is in sight. It is an end that was not denied existed, but a deceiving one that has crept up like the grim reaper. There is no mercy, only an end.
Is it a good thing to know that “this is it”? Some football careers end suddenly to injury. Others are never continued after a disappointing season. Looking at it this way I do think it gives the advantage to Bryce. It gives him the opportunity to go out on his terms, and I know he will. I’d like to take you on a short journey down my memory lane and give you some insight into how special this young man is.
Bryce has always been a strong, big kid. I remember walking into his room when he was a baby, and was amazed to see he had pulled himself up in his crib. I knew early that he was going to be a strong one physically. Bryce would also prove that his heart was equally as strong.
Bryce has been blessed physically and mentally. Schoolwork has never been an issue with him, and he is in the top 8% of his class. I’ll get to why he’s not in the top 5% in a few more paragraphs. Even with his physical and mental talents life has not always been easy for Bryce. A little over a year ago Bryce started experiencing severe abdominal cramping. The initial diagnosis was an enlarged liver, pancreas, and kidneys. This scared the hell out of all of us, and also ended his 2012 football season early, missing the final three games.
After several tests the correct diagnosis of mononucleosis was made. At least we all knew it could be dealt with. Unfortunately it wasn’t as easy as we hoped. The mono essentially short circuited Bryce’s system, and with no sign of mono present he spent the next four months of hugging the toilet 8-12 times a day. He had every medical test, probe, and scope you could think of to find the cause, but there was never a firm diagnosis.
Bryce missed four months of classes at Midland High, attributing to his drop from the top 4% to the top 8% of his class. He desperately wanted to be well, back to normal. At times he just wanted to give up, and who wouldn’t do the same? But he didn’t. He persevered, and in late March of 2013 received clearance from his doctor for spring football practice.
Both the trainers and coaches were hesitant to let Bryce step on the field, cautiously working him out, keeping him on a short leash. They advised that he would probably only participate in the last week of spring football workouts. But Bryce had something different in mind. He willed himself to be in full pad workouts on the first day. He was still weak and out of shape, but he was there with his team. This was in my opinion the best medicine for Bryce, football. In two weeks Bryce went from 3rd string on the depth chart to the starting defensive tackle. He simply refused to let the challenges from his illness to stand in his way any longer.
Bryce spent the rest of the spring and summer in preparation for his senior year. With excellent SAT scores he was able to circumvent the 4 percentage points dropped in class rank, and with every day of weight and conditioning training, he was able to get back to 100% physically.
Two a day workouts started, and his senior year was off to a roaring start. Then week two of the season showed up…with a stomach virus. I noticed Bryce hugging a trash barrel during his workout, and so did the trainer. “Here we go again” was the thought no one close to Bryce wanted to have. Had he relapsed? Would he have to go through all this again? Is football over for Bryce? Every thought ran through our heads. Fortunately it was only a stomach bug, and he missed two practices, but made it on the field that Friday night for the whole game.
Bryce has enjoyed an extremely successful season with Midland High, being named defensive player of the week twice, and also being one of the leading tacklers on the team. He has the respect of his team mates, coaches, fans, and opposing teams. He has the heart of a champion, and he is mine and his mother’s champion.
Sometimes the most special moments have the quickest endings. That’s what makes them special and not ordinary. Midland High still has a shot at making the playoffs. With a win against Abilene and a loss by Odessa High to Tascosa they’re in. I really hope this happens. But whether his last game is Friday night or in the playoffs, I know Bryce will be cherishing every moment. I know there will be a great sense of accomplishment, and also loss. I know that Bryce will walk off the field for the last time knowing in his heart that he has no regrets, and that he left everything he had on the field. I know his coaches wish they had 100 more players just like Bryce, and that they will miss him.
I will miss him as a football player too. I never expected this week to come so fast. I will miss hugging him after the games in his sweat drenched jersey. I’ll miss talking about plays he made with him. I have loved watching him play.
The good news is with every end there is a new beginning, and I am more than excited about the new chapters ahead in Bryce’s life. Football taught him how to fight and compete, and I know he is more than prepared to take on the world. This young man is going to be a great man and do many amazing things in his life. I love you, Bryce, and could never be more proud of you.