It’s called the “Final Lap,” but it’s also the first step toward the next chapter of the lives of 18 seniors on the University of New Mexico football team.
Coach Bob Davie has a tradition of honoring his senior players on the last practice in pads before the final game of the season. At the end of practice on Wednesday, the 2013 seniors took a lap around Branch Field at University Stadium.
They gathered at the south end zone while the rest of the team formed two lines for the seniors to pass through as their names were announced one last time over the loud speakers. The video board displayed their photos and accomplishments as they gathered at midfield and had one final team break.
“This is what college football is – guys making an unbelievable investment (to the program),” Davie said, “and the last game they play doesn’t mean it’s the last investment they’re going to make to this place as far as emotionally and also what they can get back from this program.”
Senior captain Dallas Bollema said he soaked in the experience of making the final trip around the field but knows the real emotion of his college career coming to an end won’t play out until the weekend.
“I think I’ll feel more of the emotions come Saturday with all the boys out there when it’s the last quarter, the last seconds of the game,” Bollema said. “It’s exciting, and it’s bittersweet.”
The most emotional part of the week for Davie will take place in the team hotel on Friday night in Boise.
“The night before the (final) game is when I think we really do them justice,” David said. “We take all of their jerseys and we hang them up in a big meeting room. And that’s where each coach that’s coached them, in our case for the last two years, gets up and speaks from the heart about what the seniors have meant to this program. And then each senior has a chance to get up and talk.
“I just feel bad that the kids are leaving (without a bowl game to play), but the good news is that we have one more game. We have one more game to play.”