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The Gazette KCRG
Posted November 12, 2013

Clayton Ridge's Kohle Helle runs with the ball during a loss to Iowa City Regina in a second-round playoff game at Regina High School. This was a memorable season for Eagles manger Taylor Schaefers. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

Editor’s note: Here is your chance to tell your story about your team, your school or your favorite player. If you’d like to join The Gazette’s growing list of high school contributors, contact J.R. Ogden at jr.ogden@thegazette.com

By Taylor Schaefers, Clayton Ridge junior

GUTTENBERG — When people hear the word “football,” they may think of Friday night lights, sweaty pads, a physical game and maybe even rude or cocky players.

When I hear the word football, I think of early morning practices, team meals, motivational speeches, and the gentlemen that put blood, sweat and tears into the game. In addition to that, I also think of my family.

My opinion differs from many because I spent the 2013 season as one of managers for the Clayton Ridge football team. As a manager, I have been privileged to get a closer look at the true meaning of football.

Spending multiple hours every day after school for weeks with these players has changed my attitude toward the game. I always have loved the game, but I never realized how much time and effort these guys put forth during practices to be successful.

Whether it is scorching heat, raining or super windy outside, they are out on the practice field working for a common goal. That common goal is to succeed as a team every Friday night.

I am convinced the team was there for me more than I was there for them throughout the season, through both good and bad times. The entire team was there for me during my brother’s death this September (Lee Smith died in a car accident at the age of 21). They grieved with me, comforted me, helped keep my hopes up, and kept me busy.

They were there whenever I needed them. Through the tears they hugged me and said comforting words to try to ease the pain. I really couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys and I am truly honored to be a part of this family.

While I consider myself part of the Eagles’ football family, some people have asked me if I feel weird being the only girl with all of these guys. My response has always been, “no”. The guys have treated me with respect since day one. There are times when they joke around and I feel embarrassed, but it’s all fun and games to us.

We joke around like siblings and I honestly feel like a sister to them. The coaching staff usually keeps the guys in line when possible. The coaches act like the parents of this big family and I give props to them for dealing with us, all while not going insane.

I can honestly say Coach Nick Breuer has changed our football program for the better. He has put his heart, mind and soul into this program. He has made the players care about grades before they worry about football.

One of his analogies to connect football to school really stuck with me — practice is like homework, hard practices are like quizzes and these all lead up to the Friday night game, which is the real deal, the test.

Like this phrase, he had many motivational speeches after every practice. His story was never the same. There always was something new to get motivated about, always something new to learn.

Even though everyone was determined to win every game, I know whether we win or lose I am proud of my team at all times. After our loss to Iowa City Regina, we broke down together. It was not just a few players who were disappointed with our loss. Our family took it hard, but as tears fell from our faces, we looked back at our successful season and remembered all the good times.

As we leave the season we will stay together as a family. I thank the players and coaches for this amazing experience and season.

I love these guys like brothers and am blessed to have been able to become so close with each and every one of them.

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