From the beginning of their first season in 1995, this group of eight- and nine-year-olds take their coaches and families on a magical journey of inspiration, excitement, hardship, and incredible accomplishments. The parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, friends, fans, and coaches alike are wrapped up in the lives of the Warriors for an intense, eight-week period. This little ragtag bunch of players is one of a number of Tyke teams in a city league. For most of them, this is their first experience of football or of participating in a team sport. Their first season gives them a taste of victory and they win the B cup city championship. The author begins the second season as an assistant coach, practicing not only with his oldest son, Jess, on the team but his younger brother, Kurt, as well. He comes up with a new offensive strategy that helps bring the team out of the doldrums. Living on the emotional roller coaster alongside his players, the author witnesses these young kids grow and flourish as a team. Join Sean Graham as he shares the simple pleasures and rewards he finds in coaching the Warriors, and allow them to capture your heart and inspire you, as they did for so many of their fans.
Well this seemed to horrify our little ones. I got angry and looked at one of our bigger kids standing beside me and said to Trevor, "Look, look good, that's your friend on the ground crying there. You kids have to start blocking and playing this game with some heart. You kids can't keep letting these teams beat you up like this. You got to start fighting back." I then told him, "Get out there on the field and start blocking and show me some passion." I think I scared the hell out him and he just looked at me and scoured behind the smaller kids who were huddled on the sidelines together watching Justin. I looked at Justin and watched as he was carried off the field and I thought to myself, most of the pain was his pride. As the game continued, the other team continued to physically have their way with our kids. I remember worrying about Jess, out on the field, and prayed he would not give up or get hurt. I could not blame the kids on the other side as the point of the game was to win and it was a physical game. I kept an eye on Jess and decided to keep to myself on the sideline, as I was becoming very agitated. I recall hearing one of the parents from the sideline call out to our Warriors "Come on kids play with some emotion." It seemed like all the other noise and confusion around us stopped as this one plea for the kids carried across the field for all to hear. It only lasted a second, but it seemed an eternity and I could hear and feel the pain from this father. This plea stuck in my head for the longest time. I looked over at the parents and could see the pain on their faces as they watched their kids get batted around one more time and as for the Warriors, it was sad. I could see now that some of the kids did not even want to come off the bench to go into the game at all and you could not blame them. The game was winding down but the other kids were still hitting as they were enjoying their victory and I hoped that there would be no taunting after the game. I looked into the eyes of one of our smaller kids standing by me, and the fear, the youth, the inexperience and lack of size was in full view for the whole world to see. It was horrible. The game finally ended, I was not sure how much more the kids, the parents as well as myself could take of this. I felt relieved as the game ended. I watched the kids shake hands with the other team, I watched as some of the other kids were teasing our kids and this was tough to swallow for me. I could not fathom how our kids felt being the ones getting teased after the beating on the field.
Sean Graham and his wife, Kimberley, have always believed that their children are an important focal point in the lives. Sean came from a brood of sixteen and has enjoyed volunteering in his community and supporting his own three boys. At this stage in his life he has been afforded the privilege of embarking on a second career, his true passion: writing. His family currently lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.