From the moment you walk into the Salon at Vaught House you hear her. Her chair is in the first room on the left, and if she is not laughing and joking with salon roomies, Becca and Sarah, Meghan Kell is chatting up one of her clients. Many of them went to Arlington High School with her. Others, like me, have only known her for a “short time” (26 years and counting).
If you bring up the name of anyone in Arlington, Meghan knows them. “Oh, I did her daughter’s hair for prom,“ she says. Or, “they flew me to Colorado to do the hair of their daughter’s wedding party.”
Frankly, she is way too good for me, but, for some reason, she keeps taking my appointments. The point is that Meghan knows just about everyone in Arlington. So you can imagine what it is like when she goes to watch her son Griffin and the Arlington Colts play football on Friday nights.
“It’s like a reunion every time I go,” Meghan says with a smile. “I see my clients, my classmates – and a lot of the kids on the football team, I went to school with their parents.”
It may be surprising, then, to know that there are times when she is remarkably alone in the stands. Surrounded by people she knows and loves like her dad Max McClellan, Arlington Class of 1959. Griffin’s dad Kevin is always there, and so are his parents. Her daughter, Kennedy, is by her side, and so is boyfriend Brady – and still Meghan finds herself all alone.
You see: Meghan’s son Griffin is the Colts’ kicker.
That feeling of being all alone in a crowd was never more acute than during week one of the season. Griffin, a junior at AHS, kicked during his freshman and sophomore years, too, but mostly on the freshman and JV teams. These are the “big boys.” This is varsity. This really matters.
Meghan went to the game knowing that made kicks – and, worse, missed kicks – mean more at this level. And as luck would have it, this game against South Grand Prairie did not just go down to the wire, it went to overtime. “I was nervous the whole game because there is a lot of pressure,” Meghan says. “When it was time to kick the game-winning field goal, I had my face in my hands. But ultimately I watched mostly because I knew he could make it.”
She was right; Griffin made the 34-yarder to give the Colts a victory. That is the good news.
The bad news? Griffin is good! He regularly kicks 60-yard field goals in practice, and he has a personal kicking coach who believes that he can kick at the next level. Griffin might even be able to get a scholarship to college. And you’re thinking, “how is any of that bad news?”
Good question! It is not bad news for Griffin, but think of poor Meghan. The longer her son kicks, the longer she will be fully invested in his games. She will attend his games at college somewhere, and the stands will be full of people who really care about their team.
There may be a game that comes down to a last-second field goal, and the crowd will be raucous and on its feet, and the other coach will call time out trying to “ice” Meghan’s baby. If Griffin makes the kick, he will be the hero like he was against South Grand Prairie. But if he misses the kick, it will be …
“Devastating!” Meghan says.
“It’s a blast watching him,” she continues. “But it is so nerve wracking to know that he can make or break the game really easily.”
That is the life of the family of a kicker. He is on an island out there. They are on an island in a sea of people.
So if you go to an Arlington football game this year or next, and if you are one of the few people there that does not know Meghan, fear not. She will be easy to recognize, she is the one who is all alone, in a huge crowd of people.
Sports columnist John Rhadigan is an anchor for the Fox Sports Southwest television network.