On August 1st, high school football officially begins. Teams are allowed hold their first practice of the season. Since there is no designated time for these practices, the Columbus football coaches started an annual tradition of having practice at midnight.
This tradition came to be known as Midnight Madness, which Columbus has become known for after holding ten straight practices at midnight. Columbus is the only team in South Florida to have this unique event, and may be the only team in the country. “I had coaches and people up in Gainesville asking me if I went to the school that held practice at midnight, so that goes to show you how popular Midnight Madness is,” said Columbus senior safety, Austin Chacon.
Football is not the only part of this tradition as the team comes in at 3:30pm to have a retreat for team bonding. According to Head Coach, Chris Merritt, Columbus always kicks off the new season with God and prayer. Then, the team members go to the locker room to have measurements for their helmets and pads. This is continued by a team meeting. “Coach always reminds us about who we are and to always have the back of the guy next to you,” said Senior Offensive Lineman Robert Perez, about the team meeting.
After the coaches talk to the players, the team approaches the fun part of the day as they hit the field for the first time and play games, such as Sharks and Minnows. These games are followed up by another fun activity: lip syncing battles. “It is awesome seeing all the fun the players are having on the stage,” said Chacon. At the end though, the coaches were the ones who stole the show with their singing and dancing skills.
As the day comes to a close, the underclassmen and parents are invited to join the team for mass followed by a dinner. “It is awesome to see all the players and coaches gathered together showing the true brotherhood of Columbus,” says incoming freshman Michael Dominguez.
Finally, the moment everyone was waiting for– the practice. When the clock struck midnight, the coaches blew their whistles and the players jumped in celebration. Then, they suited up to start practice at 12:05am. “It is great to see the discipline these boys have, practicing this late at night. It is truly easier said than done,” says Columbus mom Marivi Rodriguez.
As Coach Juan Moscoso says, state championships are not won in December, but in the summer, so he hopes the extra work the football team is putting in leads them to their first ever state title.