A letter to the football team

By John Vitale
Guest Writer
jvitale@lhup.edu

October 25, 2012

Dear LHU football,

About four hours ago my heart broke. And I know if my heart broke, then your collective hearts must have shattered too. There’s an all-too-often painstaking irony at how a 60-minute football game can whiz by for 59 minutes and 58 seconds, but for those final two seconds, what feels like an eternity can transpire.

I had one of the best seats in the house for your homecoming game against Clarion. From the press box I watched, on that final play, as Ben Fiscus’s pass fluttered toward a wide-open Anthony Becote. And as I watched, I knew the victory you so courageously deserved had all but slipped away. I suppose I surrendered hope before the catch was actually made.

But my willingness to concede victory before the final gun is the difference between me and all of you. It’s also the difference between all of you and the majority of students on this campus.

Whether down by 30 points or winning by four with 2.3 seconds to go you keep on playing and never do you even consider giving up.

It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and cowardly bask in the struggles of others. And I find it appalling that so many among our student body choose to do so. What all of you do, on the other hand, is anything but easy.

You sacrifice your bodies, health, and time. Some of you work, go to class, and still choose to play football. You condition yourselves year round. You lift weights in the winter, practice in the spring, run in the summer, and play in the fall.

Of course, victory is the ultimate goal of any athletic competition and it’s no secret that victory has eluded LHU football for far too long. But at least for one homecoming Saturday afternoon you showed this university that the days of blowouts and hopelessness are soon to be a thing of the past.

Coach Allen, you are a good coach and an even better member of the LHU family. Thank you for all you do for your players, as well as the on-campus and local community. There is an improved culture of athletic enthusiasm that was lacking prior to your presence at LHU.

To the players, please know that for every person out there chuckling, there are people envious of your strength, envious of your dedication, and envious of the heart you display on a weekly basis. We have the utmost respect for all that you do.

To those who think LHU’s losing streak is laughable, understand something: Your condescension and laughter say more about you than it will ever say about LHU football. These young men do not cower in the echo of your chuckles; nor do they bow from the backlash of your ridicule.

They do—and will continue to do—what they’ve done for the past four years that I’ve been a Lock Haven football fan. They embrace the challenge, continue working, and continue striving toward that ever-elusive victory.

Maybe LHU wins its next game. Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it loses its next 50. Either way, there is no denying that after homecoming the pride surrounding LHU football has reached a level unrivaled in recent history.

Four hours ago, when the scoreboard read “Guests: 30, LHU: 28,” my heart broke, but know that when I put the period at the end of this sentence my heart will be back together. You may not have won the game, but you did win the heart of every single person lucky enough to be in the stands and witness such an inspirational display of teamwork and commitment.

We love you more than ever. We support you more than ever. We believe in you more than ever!

The only thing left to say is, thank you. Go out this Saturday, and beat Gannon.

L-H-YOU KNOW!

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2 thoughts on “A letter to the football team

  1. Rene Bartashus says:

    This is a fantastic letter. It says everything just perfectly. My son plays for LHU and we are so proud of these young men and love everyone of them! They all work very hard, putting there heart and soul into every game! We are very proud to say our son plays For and goes to LHU !!

  2. chris fravel says:

    John, I’d like to thank you for voicing the thoughts and feelings of the Lock Haven University loyal. I could not have said it better myself. You are the epitome of what a fellow classmate, sports-lover and human being should be to our players.

    I cannot capitalize on what John said, he has pretty much taken the thoughts and feelings that I and many students share and put them into text form. I would like to voice my support of the Bald Eagles, you are not just brave players, but stand-up individuals and you are the standard of what we Lock Haven students should be: courageous, persistent and passionate in everything we do.

    I know the Bald Eagles are a week removed from that heart-wrenching loss, but I want them to know that even though it may not seem it, there are many more Bald Eagles behind you than you might realize. Whether they are in the stands, behind their computer screen, listening to the radio or even receiving texts from friends in attendance, there is an entire nation of football fans and Lock Haven enthusiasts behind you. Remember that as you take the field tomorrow against Gannon, there may only be 11 of you on the field at one time, but there are hundreds and possibly thousands beyond the confines of that grid iron cheering you on.

    Good luck, and give em’ hell.

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