MIHS football moms gather to understand ‘Gridiron’ speak

By Linda Williams Rorem

Special to the Reporter

On a Saturday morning, while most Mercer Island football players were still asleep, dreaming of astounding runs, passes and tackles, a group of 20 “Gridiron Moms” gathered to learn the finer points of the game from MIHS coaches Brett Ogata and Shane Keck.

This “Football 101” session was envisioned to provide, according to Coach Ogata, “a chance to learn a little about football and a little about what we [coaches and players] do, so you will have something to talk to your son about.”

The session began with a short quiz, which simultaneously baffled and bemused the “students.” For instance, the first question read, “Coach Ogata has eight seconds to make a decision … your husband has blank seconds to second guess it.”

More serious questions asked whether offensive linemen could catch passes, what are the three phases of football, what happens after a third down and which coach signals the offensive players. Several moms tried to crib off others’ papers or laughed nervously about their ineptitude (present company included).

Fortunately, over the next two hours, most of the answers became clear.

“The important thing about Gridiron Moms is that I make a connection with the moms,” Ogata said. “I want to educate you guys so you understand the [plays] and the safety of the game. I know moms really care about the experience for their sons.”

During the Saturday morning session, the group of moms learned about football terminology, different ways to score, how to anticipate certain plays and how to interpret penalty signals.

Coach Keck gave a brief introduction to the team’s defense, stating, “I want you to understand the level of intellect and processing that your kids go through every time the ball is snapped. A lot of processing takes place in about four or five seconds.”

For instance, Keck described Offensive Personnel Identification, which indicates what configuration of the opponent’s running backs, tight ends and wide receivers take the field.

To that, one mom replied, “Wow, that’s a lot of math. Football players really aren’t just dumb jocks.”

Keck chuckled and said, “Yes, all of this time we [coaches and players] spend together is because the game is really complicated.”

During the meeting, many of the moms posed questions — some basic, some more indicative of a 300-class-level understanding. One player’s mom joked with Ogata, asking, “Are you going to respect the ‘Mom Code’ and not tell our sons which questions we asked?”

After Ogata explained several aspects of the team’s offense, the moms felt a little more prepared to cheer for their sons and their teammates. They departed feeling good about the pre-quiz’s final question: “The greatest thing God created for football is Gridiron Moms?” (Answers A, B and C all read “True,” while D stated “All of the above.”)


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