STEVE HANLON: A father, a son and a game

2013-10-31T17:30:00Z 2013-12-12T22:08:18Z STEVE HANLON: A father, a son and a gameSteve Hanlon Prep Beat nwitimes.com
October 31, 2013 5:30 pm  • 

This is an American story, even though it's a little different than in past times. It's a reflection of a well-known region football family.

At first it will seem sad, if you are a parent who struggles to see your children participate in athletics, or anything, due to work constraints.

But there is also a joy and respect that shines through the gritty absence.

Jim Pickett is the head football coach at Griffith. His son, Zack Pickett, is a junior wide receiver at Munster. Sue, the mother and wife of the two, watches her son's games.

But she gets a text from a Griffith parent every eight seconds or so getting updates.

Her mind and fingers will be busy tonight as her husband's Panthers travel to E.C. Central for one Class 4A Sectional 17 semifinal. She will be in the bleachers at Michigan City as her son's Mustangs play the Wolves in one Class 5A Sectional 9 semifinal.

This isn't a blended family. They're scrambled.

"It's difficult trying to keep up with both of them," Sue said. "I haven't missed one of Zack's games since Pop Warner. It makes me feel sad because I can't be on the sidelines cheering Jim on.

"It pulls at my heartstrings."

Last Friday gave this football family a mulligan. Munster got the bye so the wayward Picketts went and saw Griffith beat Clark 50-34. Zack wore his Munster letterman's jacket. Sue wore colors for both rival schools.

Munster colors on top and a Griffith T-shirt underneath.

"We don't get to see each other very much during football season," Zack said. "We try to have dinner together every night when we can. The week we play each other we don't talk about the game."

Munster assistant coach Chris Marsh also uses this newfangled technology to let Zack know how his dad's team is doing. During breaks during the Mustangs' game he'll give Zack an update.

"It's really strange," Jim said. "He's been involved in sports and I've been involved in coaching all of his life. When we play there isn't a lot of emotion going on. It's a game. We kind of trash-talk at home a little bit, but it's not that big of an issue."

The week before the Munster-Griffith game this year, a 38-18 Munster win on Sept. 27, Zack's buddies on the team asked him if he'd given the 'Stangs playbook to his dad.

During the game Zack would smile at his pops whenever he lined up on Griffith's sidelines.

"It was fun, but I was really nervous to play against him," Zack said. "I wanted to impress my dad."

It was one of the few games where Zack did not have a catch.

"I know what he does," Jim laughed.

Now once that game is over the two will compare notes on other teams in the conference, over a plate of beef and some green beans.

Sue Pickett leads the family hope that both teams, both family members, win tonight. When this season ends for both teams, a more traditional father-son relationship will kick off again.

Working out together. Hanging out together. Being together.

"This is very exciting," Sue said. "I'm praying to the Lord above that both teams win (tonight)."

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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