The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

The Love Of A Mother

by Jim Clayton, Quill Reporter

Football is a tough sport. When we think of football we think of strong tough boys and men who play the sport.

We think of former football greats like Dick Butkus, Ray Nitschke, or current stars like Jason Whitten, and Jeff Saturday.

When we talk football we talk about hard hits and great catches or who is on the injured reserve list. Yes, football is a tough sport and for a professional the average career expectancy is a mere four years.

Most football players who become professionals have played football at every level. They played as small boys and young men, they played as fragile and vulnerable children and they played as hardened muscular men.

And behind nearly every one of them stands a figure that is always there - a silhouette that shines on the wall of each of their careers.

Very few high school players play at the college level and an even smaller percentage make it as professionals. But the vast majority of every football player did have that special someone who stood behind them.

No, it was not a coach, though coaches are immensely important. It was not teammates who were also highly valuable.

And it is not a father, whom every football has to have to exist. The person standing behind all of these players, cleaning their wounds, driving them to practice, and attending all of their games were their mothers.

There are countless tales of professional football players who, after they get their first big contract, buy their mother a home. Campbell's Chunky soup has produced a string of successful commercials showing big, strong, professional football players being served a hot bowl of soup by their mothers. Those commercials were intended to be humorous, but it is obvious that there is some truth in the fact that each of these players could not have accomplished what they did without their mothers.

We are all acutely aware that Illini-West won a state championship on November 28. Many of us were in attendance and most of the rest of us saw it on television. We know what the coaches have said over the course of the season and we have heard from many of the players. But we have not heard from the player's mothers and what they think about their boys winning and what it may hold for their future.

Sandy Hutson, mother of two members of the team Ross, OL/DL, and Rob, Special Teams, has at least one of her boys on the field nearly every play. "As a mother, I get a sick feeling in my stomach before every game, "she says.

"I also say a little prayer before every game."

When asked her feelings about winning a state championship Hutson said, "I really can't describe it, I was overwhelmed. I was a little apprehensive about the high school merger to begin with, but now I think it is one of the best things that have ever happened to Dallas City. I couldn't be prouder of all the boys."

"This is really opening doors as far as college recruitment goes. But I also believe that it is helping them academically," continued Hutson.

La Harpe resident Gayle Vincent, mother of TE/DE Chris Vincent, had this to say, "The whole season was an emotional roller coaster ride. I am so thankful that he (Chris) did not receive any serious injuries. Knock on wood." Spoken like a true mother. "I also think it (winning state) shows him if he works hard he can achieve any goal he sets, whether it's in sports or not. They need to realize that life is not all fun and games." Vincent, like Hutson, was pleased with the win, "I was very, very excited and happy and thrilled for all the boys," she said.

Suzy Holtsclaw, mother of Jesse Holtsclaw DE, sees the results from two sides as she is also a teacher at Illini-West.

"I think that being competitive prepares them for whatever they are going to do in life. It helps them to stay focused and to apply themselves in the classroom; it goes far beyond the playing field," says Holtsclaw. "I have seen several of the payers who are really striving to be competitive in the classroom as well on the field."

"As a mother, I don't like to see him banged up and sore after games or this long season, but I know it is good for him to compete at this level." Holtsclaw added.

Looking back over the season and the grand finale of winning the state championship and wondering what could possibly be in store for next year, the best way to see it is through the eyes of a mother.

State championships don't happen every year, nor do undefeated seasons, but the one thing that is always there is the love and encouragement of a mother.

"It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters." -Mother Teresa