When I was the head football coach at Grandview High School, I don't think I ever grasped how important opening night was. As the leader of the program, I was, like most head coaches, extremely conscious of putting a good product on the field and seldom got the chance to appreciate what was surrounding me.

When I was the head football coach at Grandview High School, I don't think I ever grasped how important opening night was. As the leader of the program, I was, like most head coaches, extremely conscious of putting a good product on the field and seldom got the chance to appreciate what was surrounding me.

As the athletics director at Grandview, and not coaching, I began to gain an understanding of the dynamics of a night that is the truest form of Americana and a night that capsules the importance of a new beginning. Throw out the past, opening night is all about right now and the future and, for the most part, that is the way we should live our lives.

There is a real freshness about the first official football game of the new season. Players' uniforms, whether they be new or 16 years old, have a sparkle to them. It's about new players with new numbers ready to go on stage and show their peers, parents and their community that they have something to be proud of. What a wonderful challenge!

What happened last year matters not. Who cares if you didn't win a game, because that was then and this is now. It was great to go unbeaten and win a state championship, but that was last year's team and this is our team.

Right before kickoff, everyone is equal. Nobody has won a game and nobody has lost a game and the confidence level should be sky high. What happens when the action starts will define your team, but for a few minutes before the game, everyone's hopes can be realized.

While opening night spotlights the game itself, it also has the same special meaning to the cast members who add to the pageantry and the precision of the event. I'm not talking about the coaches and players, but the cheerleaders, drill team and the band. All in uniform, anxious to show off the hard work they have done over the summer and all thrilled to represent their school.

Imagine how wonderful it is for a band member who has labored over and over, playing the same music during this last month, to march down the field playing the school's fight song knowing the whole community is loving what they hear. But the excitement doesn't stop with the students, because opening night is special for the officials who go back to being important warriors of decision.

Opening night is important to the chain crew who has been volunteering to do the same job for years, like the timer and the announcer and the statisticians. Everything is new and everything feels good.

I have written for ThisWeek Community Newspapers for 16 years now and in each and every one of those years, I have done an article about opening night. That is because of how much I believe it reflects life.

Moving forward and not looking back are great rules to live by. Clinging and cherishing those moments comes with time, but it needs to be introduced to people of any age. Take a moment at that first football game to look around and see what is really good about high school sports and life in general. Hey, you might even forget some of your problems.

I'll see you at a game.

Larry Larson is a former athletics director at Grandview High School. He can be heard as "Mr. High School Sports" on WTVN 610 AM.