By Dawn Gammon
The National South played with heart, skill, determination, and love this season to be the Cinderella team of 2018!
The Grayson Rams were undefeated the last two seasons. No.2 Buford (11-1) laid it all on the line with No.1 Grayson (12-0) for the rematch of last year’s title game. The Buford National South (NS team) comprised of 6 and 7-year-olds, outscored opponents 317 to 80, giving up one touchdown or less in 9 out of 12 games, including 6 shutouts. The team completed a pass to 6 different players, 8 kids scored a touchdown with 5 interceptions. Buford Wolves 1st/2nd grade NS Head Coach, Shaun Gindlesperger bragged on the hard work the boys put forth this year.
“This team ran a very advanced offense thanks to a great offensive line, quarterback and running backs,” Gindlesperger said.
NS 1st/2nd grade Cheer Head Coach, Chloe Humphries said. “It was amazing to look up in the stands during the Championship game and see 6/7-year-old National North cheerleaders, football players, and parents cheering on our players and cheerleaders. The future is bright for Buford sports!”
They were true champions in more ways than one this season. When the NS team found out their Team Mom, Katie Bowman is currently battling breast cancer, they made the decision to show support in a big way through faith, family and football. “Our Team Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer mid-season, but the families and community really rallied around Katie and the boys!” Gindlesperger said. Katie refused to miss even one game and less than one week after a double mastectomy surgery, she was the loudest and proudest fan of all.
This team attacked the playoffs with the same energy and vigor that Katie attacked breast cancer. “The coaches, parents, players, and cheerleaders really rallied around me instantly. I never really had time to be anything but happy and loved.,” said Katie. “It was overwhelming in the absolute best way possible.”
In the first round of the playoffs, both teams (Buford National South and National North) were able to coordinate a “pink out” game. All the players, cheerleaders, family, and fans wore pink to honor and support Katie.
The Coaches and players presented Katie with flowers, cards, and a special plaque on the field before the coin toss. The Cheerleaders gave Katie a gift basket & balloons after the game, just before 120+ people collectively prayed over Katie. “The day the teams had a pink out for me was a once in a lifetime experience,” expressed Katie. “To walk in and see a football field covered in pink was awesome! A highlight of my life without a doubt.”
In some ways, it was her son’s football team that helped provide the family with that sliver of peace and comfort during this difficult season. “These boys have the biggest hearts. You would think at the age of 6/7 that they wouldn’t grasp the depth of something like breast cancer, but they truly did,” conveyed Katie.
The Buford community shares a spirit of resilience, grit, growth and connectedness that can only be defined as love! “Katie is the essence of a Team Mom. She loves all of the boys like her own and makes them all feel like they are champions. She is our champion,” Buford Academy Teacher and Football Mom, Kacey Wilson said. “We know that she is going to beat this and come back stronger than ever! We love you Katie!” Katie is a Mama Wolf Warrior that inspires us all to live and love to the fullest each and every day! This love is expressed by who we are, all we do and all we shall become…we are BUFORD…family forever!