Lance Greiwe and the Columbus East Olympians play in a Semi-State game in Indiana on Friday, November 18.
My football “Mom” story began with a love of football. I grew up in a football family. My father, Bill Tobin, has made football his career. I grew up in Chicago, and experienced firsthand the benefits from the game. I’ve been to the Super Bowl, babysat for Walter Payton’s son, known all the famous 1985 Bears, and have spent my life enjoying the game. Now I root for the Cincinnati Bengals, as my brother Duke Tobin runs the Personnel Department. Football teaches life lessons, builds character, leadership, and forever friendships. There is so much negative press about the game and some who play it, but football at its grass roots is a first class sport.
So I am a football daughter, sister, but most importantly “Mom”.
Nov. 12, 2014 is a day I’ll never forget. At 6:30 A.M. I went downstairs. My two oldest sons’ bedrooms are in the basement. I found my oldest, Brock, an 18-year-old senior, having a massive seizure on the bathroom floor. Seeing my 240 pound son this way is forever ingrained in my mind. He was rushed to the local hospital and less than 12 hours later diagnosed with a brain tumor.
So, where does football fit in? I have five children. Three boys, all play football. Brock was two days away from a state tournament regional game on the team’s quest for a 2nd state title. Brock had led the team as a defensive end his junior year as his high school, the Columbus East (IN) Olympians, won the 4A 2013 Indiana State title. They were destined to repeat in 2014.
That all changed Nov. 12th.
Almost immediately, his teammates rallied around him as he faced this incredible battle, which hit us all like a ton of bricks. We have been blessed to be part of an amazing football program. Everything about it is first rate. The coaches, players, parents (Quarterback Club), fans and community were there for Brock and our family. His head Coach, Bob Gaddis, was there for him in the hospital that day, along with his teammates. Brock’s number was #48 – so the slogan became 48 minutes for #48.
Throughout my son’s high school career, I was part of a first rate program that became family. My middle son, Quade, was a junior at the time of Brock’s diagnosis. Whether the boys had their teammates over for meals to watch film, or I was feeding them at our Thursday night team meals at the school, I felt an incredible attachment to the team. As any football mom knows, the laundry is never-ending but the rewards are immeasurable. The players always come first in the eyes of our high school football program. The coaches expect and demand accountability from the players both on and off the field, at school, and in the community. Football taught my boys integrity, hard work, passion, respect, leadership, and teamwork. When my family needed it most, football supported us and showed us an amazing love.
Fast forward – a lot of story left out – Brock had surgery to remove the brain tumor less than a month after his diagnosis. We were blessed to learn that it was benign. Many football team members shaved their heads in support of Brock. He was even given a teammate’s game ball (Markell Jones, current running back at Purdue) after the regional win. A benefit was organized for him through a cheerleader and her family.
Football touches lives. It is not all about winning and losing, it is so much more.
Before the tumor, Brock had planned to play college football. Indiana State University Head Coach Mike Sanford and Defensive Coordinator Brian Cabral offered Brock the opportunity to be a part of their football team even after his surgery. His freshman year he traveled with the team and helped along the sideline. When he was cleared a year later to play football he started working out with the team. They had become his family. However, as spring ball approached the decision was made that because of two titanium plates in his head and the uncertainty of what might happen when hit, it was in his best interest to not play again.
I mentioned earlier Brock’s younger brother, Quade. He has his own story. He was having a dream season his senior year and was leading the team defensively when he too had an abrupt, heart breaking injury late in the season – tearing his ACL.
My two oldest sons did not end their football careers as they would have liked, but what they learned from the sport, their coaches, and teammates has shaped their futures and made them the outstanding people they are today.
As a mom, it has been gut wrenching at times to watch my sons be forced to give up something they love. However, I could not be prouder of both. This may sound strange, but I feel in my heart the lessons football taught my boys growing up prepared them to be positive, strong, to work through challenges, be there for others, and to overcome great disappointments.
Their futures are very bright because of all they learned from the game and their football playing days. Quade is a freshman at Purdue, and Brock a sophomore at Indiana State. My third son Lance, is a freshman on the Columbus East football team. I am still part of a wonderful high school football program as a football mom. Lance hopes to follow his brothers and I have no doubt that his teammates will be there for him should he ever need it. The Columbus East football family is AMAZING!