William Chrisman High School senior football players Devin Braswell and Zachery Rowe sat transfixed, paying attention to every word coming from head coach Matt Perry following a spirited Thursday afternoon practice session.

Perry and his distinguished coaching staff that that includes Kansas legend Gene Weir (whose Olathe North Eagles captured 6 of 7 Kansas state titles from 1996 to 2002 and won 96 of 102 games in that span) have watched the Bears go through the paces and are finished talking about the Xs and Os.

Now, it’s time to talk from the heart.

“I hope my guys realize how special this time in their life is, what an honor it is to play football for their high school team,” Perry said. “Because many of the students in that building (pointing toward William Chrisman) are not ready to make the sacrifice to be a part of a team.

“It’s a privilege, and I can’t tell you how many former players I talk to and they say, ‘Coach, I miss it all so much.’ And they’re not just talking about Friday nights – they’re special. But what makes this sport so special is that you feel like you are a part of a family, a part of something so special that you never want it to end.”

That message went straight to the heart of his two senior leaders.

“You realize how special this is when you hear Coach Perry talk like that, to talk about how it’s a privilege to play football at Chrisman and how so many students don’t want to make that sacrifice,” Braswell said. “Zachery and I and some of the other seniors have been playing the game since we were knee high to the football – little guys, dreaming about being on the varsity football team.

“And now, here we are. And we’re going to work so hard that we win a lot of games and make our coaches and our school proud of us.”

Rowe nods in agreement and adds, “Here we are in our first week of practice and you know, soon it’s all going to be over. And that’s what we have to stress to the guys on our team, especially the underclassmen, to make the most of every minute on the practice field or whatever you’re doing to be a part of this team.

“What Coach said was so important. Some kids don’t have families. But if they are a part of this Bears team, they are a part of the Bears family and it is so important for all the coaches to talk about stuff like that.”