Saturday, May 16, 2015

To the Soccer Boys

You know who you are. If you are 18 or 50, you will always be known by that term in our family!

It was one of Tony's greatest joys to be an assistant coach to the VMI Men's Soccer team; and while I knew he loved soccer, it took me awhile to fully understand why.

As I have gotten to know the players better in the last few years, it has become abundantly clear. The first time l really hung out with any of the players was when two came for dinner during summer school. Immediately, their conversation was a shock to the system... something Tony would maybe describe as "goofiness." They talked about the most random things, and made the silliest jokes. For us, deep in the battles of raising small children, adulthood, and the looming presence of ALS... they had an amazing effect. I hadn't laughed so hard or felt so light in a long time.

Since then, our connection with the Soccer Boys has only gotten deeper. We host the whole team for dinner at the beginning of the season, they visit with us throughout the , and Tony and I even spent a few Friday nights eating out with a couple of them. They have a standing invitation to come over, and I'm so glad they do.

So not only have they brought an injection of light into Tony's and my lives, but they are the sweetest, most attentive big brothers to Cora and Louise. It would take me days to list all the incredible kindnesses I have seen the Soccer Boys show to the girls. They never say no (although maybe they should sometimes), and suffer through the endless demands of Cora and Louise's imagination.

They were always there when we needed them, to cut the grass, or move a ridiculously heavy hot tub... but since Tony died, they've been even more supportive. I treasure a VMI flag they signed for me, they give me huge hugs when I see them, and I was flabbergasted to receive Mother's Day flowers from one of them (which made me cry buckets, but in a good way).

Yesterday was the conclusion of VMI's graduation week, and I'm beyond proud of the recent graduates and their achievements. It was hard to be there without Tony, Richie, and Kellie, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

And it's not just the Bhoys themselves, their families have also been incredibly supportive. They helped support us so I could stay with Tony, they fed us, and always made us feel welcome.  During graduation week, we were treated like members of the family, and invited to dinners, parties, and ceremonies.

As this post grows longer and longer, I know there's not enough I could say to fairly represent these wonderful young men and their families. It is a special person who can make it at VMI, and an even more determined one to be an athlete there... so out of a group of already exceptional people, these are the most big-hearted guys I have ever known.

Thank you, Soccer Boys. And Rah Virginia Mil!

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