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ARGO Spring Season Kicks Off. Why We Do It.

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Some traditional football purists will say the best day for a game is a nippy day on the cusp between fall and winter.   For me however football fever hits  every year on a Saturday in Spring when the Scottsdale Argos take the field for the first games of the NYS season.   Although it will surely be a short lived pleasure here in Arizona, as the mercury starts it’s climb to triple digits, this past Saturday was, in my mind – a GREAT day for football!  The spring air, crisp and cool.  The sun bright… the sky blue, and that unique sweet Arizona Spring breeze smelling of Orange Blossoms and Cassia.  (Its too early in the season for that other familiar sideline smell of rank jersey and fermenting cleats).  This is Spring football with the Scottsdale Argonauts.

I have been asked several times why, when my own sons are not playing on the team anymore,… do i still rise with the sun on Saturdays and crawl home exhausted 12 hours later after it sets, all to shoot a bunch of pictures for kids i hardly know. Or why for the week after, I spend most of my free time sifting through thousands of shots to crop, organize and upload them to the teamspiritgallery website?  Its not about money.  It never has been.  Its not because i don’t have other things i can go do, or more accurately other things that i should go do. …like laundry, or taming the unruly garage.  For three years now this has been what i call “the hobby gone wild”.

The reason I do it always comes clear on this very  first game day, and every season it always seems to take me by surprise. As if it were the first time I have ever stepped onto the field, discovering something new and amazing about this club.   It is the day when the entire Argo community gathers for club and team pictures and all the players, coaches, parents, siblings, relatives, friends and fans from seasons past gather for an ARGO game day event.  ITS A SEASON KICK OFF DAY!

I do it, because there is a palpable spirit in this community of NYS teams that is hard to describe for those who are not in it. On one hand, I suppose it is not unlike any other opening game day spirit that devoted fans feel when their favorite sports teams takes the field for the first game, and I have felt it similarly in other places when passionate people gather for a cause.  But this is very different.  Having experienced it for three spring seasons now I think I have a better grasp of what the ingredients of this day consist of.

It is like being in a well of combustable fuel. The abundance of energy on the first day is like getting a full tank of gas and inspiration to carry you through the long journey, striving for a National Championship honor 12 weeks away.  The players arrive buzzing like charged atoms with their own personal mix of confidence and anxiety fueling them.  Excitement and calm resolve flicker on and off as they begin to prepare for the game. Where one player may come in leaping from their parents’ car in a feral state of  abundant energy, i-pod thumping a motivating thrasher death metal anthem, while another may be found alone and still, appearing wiser than his years to meditate before a game.

The coaches arrive with their own ebb and flow of power and confidence.  One part of them anxiously questioning if they have given the boys all the tools that they will need to play their best game and the other part of them, knowing fully that they HAVE done their best, leaving the outcome of the day in the hands of fate or higher beliefs.  I do it because these men are an inspiration and their heart and dedication to these boys is infectious.

The families begin claiming their bleacher space for the day.  Their source of power, is clearly pride and passion tempered with a kind of subtle peace of mind that their son is part of something that will live in their hearts forever. For some of the more passionate parents it can prove to be a volatile power they carry into the stands.   One great play can bring out the heartiest of cheers, and one flying yellow flag can turn that passion into an outrageous rant over the perceived injustice against their child. It happens from time to time.

Younger siblings of the players on the field discover new friends in the siblings of their brother’s teammates.  They run off to find adventure in the nooks and crannies of the Argo home field at the Sabercat Stadium on the Saguaro High School campus.  I love watching these kids that are not on the team from time to time.  Sometimes they appear to be in some imagined place no where near this grid iron, and other times – they are fully present, waiting for half time to swarm the field for 10 minutes and pretend they are making the big play.

Everywhere i turn on season kick off day life is happening.  Really really happening.  When the NYS league organizers arrive…. when the refs show up. When the caravan of cars from the opposing team start arriving and our opponents for the day cross the field to their side of the bleachers, it like a small town experience where football is the core thing holding everything together.  The energy shifts as the opposing forces make themselves known and the clock to kick off ticks closer to that fusion of helmet to helmet.   5 minutes before kickoff  - football IS the only thing, but over the course of 9 games in a day,  with near one hundred games in a season, across three years of fall and spring stories, and nearly 100,000 images in the Team Spirit Gallery archives,  its the candid images of life captured in little moments, threaded together in the passage of time, that jump out at me and bring me back season after season.

Why do i do it?  I do it for the same reason the players do it.  I am motivated to do it by the same thing that motivates the coaches and parents to do it.  Bottom line – We do it because we love it.  These may not be my sons, or relatives but they are still family.  One big Argo family.

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676 Comments

  • Robert, While my days as an Argo parent are done, I enjoy your efforts and look forward to your photos and stories. This club had a profound and positive impact on my son’s life path. It might sound strange to someone that is not part of the Argo family but I feel like a proud grandparent each week when your work is revealed. Keep up the great work! Go Argos!!!

  • Thanks Bill – Its so true. Once an Argo, always an Argo. I think that is a part of the “mojo” of this club too. The bonding connectedness all of the alumni players and family. Its part of the legacy, which not a lot of youth sports teams get to experience. Thanks for the support and for following along as the season unfolds.

  • Thank you for all you do Robert..Your photos and stories are amazing.

    GO ARGOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Thanks Kendra, – Hats off to you too for your contributions as a team mom. This is the first year i have seen a really organized parent group lifting the burden off Coach Jason and Ricardo. Its part of why they can outreach to so many kids now. Can’t think of anyone better to make that happen for them. You have Gridiron in your blood. : – )

  • I know one thing, the Argos are extremely lucky to have Robert Farthing be a part of our “family”! What a beautifully written summary of the kick-off to Argos Spring Football. And you failed to mention the players new favorite past time on Sundays, where they scour the teamspiritgalleries.com website looking for all the great pictures to re-live their glory from the day before.

    Thanks Rob!

  • Thanks Coach J – Without turning this into an argo love fest, you know how i feel about your sacrifices and vision for this team. The impact and values you give to each and every young man that puts on the Argo helmet, is immeasurable. There is only so far a son is willing to walk with their fathers on a road to becoming a man and I appreciate the role you have played in my sons’ life. Both of them are better, stronger manboys because of it.

    Now lets go play the game!

  • Robert,Just like the refs, chains and end zone markers…you are a part of the Argo’s football field. Seeing you on the field doing what you love completes the picture in itself. You have truly captured the meaning of football and the emotions that are felt on the field, sidelines and in the stands at the Argo’s games. We love you…..and we are so thankful that you are a part of the Argos family. A year ago we joined the Argos family and it has felt like family from the first practice.

    Thank youu!

  • ^^ Thanks Christy ^^ That means a lot

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