Three-fifths of Mike Campbell’s family experiences a sideline view for every Greenwood Community High School football game this season.
Home or away, good weather or bad, standing near the 11th-year Woodmen head coach are his two oldest sons, Collin, 13, and Carter, 11.
The team’s other ball boys also are sons of Woodmen assistant coaches.
“When I need a ball in (the game) I don’t hesitate to yell at them, because I know their mom,” Mike Campbell said with a laugh. “It’s fun for us to experience all of this with our own boys.”
Using a son or daughter as one of the team’s varsity ball boys or ball girls is a method of bonding for families. Between bus rides to road games and mutual interest in the game, there is no shortage of conversation topics.
Some of Roncalli football coach Bruce Scifres’ most cherished memories are from when his sons, Luke and Cal, roamed the Rebels’ sideline during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Often draped in the oversized jersey of a varsity player, the Scifres boys knew where and where not to stand while competition played out on the gridiron.
Both went on to play for their father — Luke, now 25, as a running back, and Cal, now 21, as an offensive lineman.
Ironically, the jerseys they opted for as elementary-age kids were the same numbers they eventually wore in high school.
Luke, who wore the No. 32 road jersey of his idol, former Rebels tailback Sean Schembra, during home games (and vice versa when on the road), grew nicely into that number while on varsity.
Cal modeled Pat Kuntz’s No. 68 as a ball boy and later as an All-State lineman.
“For me, I was happy they were there. I always wanted my kids to come around practice and the Blockhouse just to be around some great teenage boys,” Bruce Scifres remembered. “It was kind of a selfish motivation on my part. But it was a way for kids to be around some great role models.”
Scifres would allow whichever son was a ball boy at the time to run onto the field during a timeout to give water to a Roncalli player or game official. They started as early as age 4.
He wanted them to feel the exhilaration of the actual game environment, even if only for a moment or two.
But, being a ball boy can be a dangerous undertaking.
Campbell tells the story of Greenwood’s game at Guerin Catholic in 2012 and how Collin, then 9, was determined to chase down a field goal attempt by then-Woodmen placekicker Griffin Oakes.
Underestimating the strength of Oakes’ leg, Collin was looking up while running to chase down the ball.
He lost his balance and went face-first into the chain-link fence at the field’s north end.
For his efforts, Collin earned a swollen eye and a shattered pair of glasses.
“Collin is a football kid who loves being around the game. But as a dad, you also have to worry about your kid getting hurt with people flying out of bounds,” Mike Campbell said.
“But we won the game (41-40), so he said it was worth the black eye.”