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One last game as a parent of a football player

Nov 13, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

When son Kyle and I first visited the snowy Jamestown College campus a few Februarys ago, the high temperature that day was 14 degrees -- below zero. It was a cold, cold but surprisingly bright and sunny North Dakota winter day.

This past Saturday, it was cold again, but not quite as chilly as it was when we took our first campus tour. But it wasn't as cheerfully sunny either. In fact, it was a rainy, sleety and, finally, snowy day.

"A good day for some North Dakota football," the guy behind me said when the concession stand opened before the game and I grabbed the very first hot chocolate served.

I had arrived at Kyle's last college game an hour early wanting to soak in (pun intended) all that I could of the day I wished would never end. I stood above Rollie Greeno Field, a bowl not unlike Riverton's Tonkin Stadium, and watched as the orange-and-black Jimmies -- the Pumpkin Heads, as they are affectionately called because of their all-orange helmets -- started to warm up.

Sixteen years of watching our kids play football was ending for our family.

First the specialty players came out, then the receivers, running backs, quarterbacks and defensive backs. After their warmup, the team gathered at the north end of the field to greet the linemen, then the whole team finished game-day preparations together.

Before the game, the parents (and Kyle's wife, Caroline) of the seniors gathered near the end zone, wished the coach, who was too choked with emotion to say much, "good luck," and walked to midfield with our sons on their senior day.

Ending are the discussions about practice, off-season training, teammates and Xs and Os. I'll miss trying to learn what "over-bullet razor" means as a defensive call, but I am equally eager for new topics that are just around the corner.

It turns out the guy in the concession stand line was right. It was a good day for some football, because we were at the game with Kyle's new father-in-law, Don.

If you ever go to a game in inclement weather, go with Don. He'll bring everything to make sure you are comfortable.

First there were the pads for all of us. We wouldn't be sitting on the wet bleachers and would have some extra insulation.

And there were the extra ear muffs, gloves, coats, hand warmers and even an extra pair of boots that he brought in one of his half-dozen bags just in case.

Then Don broke out the blankets, then the tarps and umbrellas, and finally the large batteries complete with the array of cables necessary to plug into the blankets. The blankets were electric, and the tarp was to cover the blankets. Bingo, we were warm and ready for the game.

The Jamestown College Jimmies won in a wallop.

"From the (RJFL) Raiders to the Cowboys to the Spartans to the Wolverines to the Jimmies. Crazy to think 16 years of football ends today! Let's go Jimmies!" Kyle posted on his Facebook page before the game.

As the game ended, I made my way down to the field and got one final hug from the big, muddy and wet defensive back, his eye-black dripping down his face, both of us grinning from ear to ear.

Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!

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