Millions of little boys spend a sizeable chunk of their childhood dreaming of NFL futures. They spend hours enacting miraculous touch down plays into pillow pile ends zones in their family rooms. They dream what it would be like to do that in front of thousands of adoring fans. But dreaming is as far as it gets for just about every one of those little boys.
Then, every once in a while, one of those little boys begins to show promise of being able to trade their backyard end-zone into an NFL sized one. That was Sam Koch’s case.
Sam was drafted in the end of April 2005 while surrounded by family and friends in Nebraska. Nebraskans take their football very seriously so you can imagine the celebration in that room as the annoucement was made that Sam was picked up by our very own Baltimore Ravens. That day he became our much-loved Raven #4.
When the live draft announcer broadcast Sam was picked up by the Ravens, his wife Nikki asked, “where’s Baltimore?” Nikki’s dad turned to her and said, ‘Nik, looks like you are gonna be leaving.’ He then proceeded to tell her, ‘You know the Ravens and the Steelers are huge rivals. You also know I’ve been a Steelers fan my whole life. That changes right here, right now.' (I know all you Ravens fans are doing a jig right now and thinking, ‘Yes! We’ve pulled one from the dark side!’)
To NFL fans, Sam is a super star punter they’d love to have on their team to help tip the scales to victory on those close games. To his boys, Sam is dad first and foremost. He’s the dad who’s always at the bus stop. He’s the dad who creates labors of love, like bookshelves, from scratch for the family he loves. He’s the dad who works 16-hour days over 8 weeks in the off-season finishing his basement. He’s the dad who encourages them to be their best.
Neighbors grin in disbelief when they watch Sam play on Sunday afternoon, then see him out mowing his hilly back yard in his cleats that evening!
Nikki and Sam are very much on the same page about making their family top priority. Family is everything to them and they believe the best expression of this is through time spent together.
Their boys were a lot of fun during our time together. Boys will never fail to bring excitement and energy to family life. There’s just something about groups of little boys---I can tell you, mothers to little boys sleep good at night. Boys in groups will wear you out every day with their abundant energy, but they’ll usually keep you cracking up laughing while they are doing it!
There’s something about boys when they are anywhere close to one another that irrepressibly draws them closer. There’s an irresistible urge to pull closer and then pick each other up/wrestle/ poke and just generally get right up in each other’s kitchen. All efforts to try to stop this gravitational pull will inevitably end in defeat.
So, when we started this little portrait series I knew “the” shot was not going to be the one of them all smiling and looking. I have 3 boys; I knew the great series this was going to produce. Instead, ‘the shot’ would be the boys engaging each other like they do every day of their lives. This is the kind of series they will look back on with laughter as they grow together and continue to wrestle each other to the ground.
We ended our session playing with footballs that Sam has punted in games while the sun dipped below the horizon. What a perfect expression of this beautiful little family! Koch's, may the love and laughter within your family only grow stronger with every passing year!