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A Pirate Mom on football, life, and raising a team player in Bo Braunecker

by Michelle Braunecker | As football season is nearing the end I can’t help but think how can his high school football career almost be over?  He is only guaranteed two more games this year and then it will be Bo’s senior year. It just doesn’t seem possible. Where has the time gone?  Football has been good for Bo and Bo has been good for football. The two just seem to go together. It makes me smile just thinking about the combo. There was no doubt our son would play football. Chad and I actually nicknamed him Bo because of football. Seriously – he is called Bo because of football. His real name is Robert  but we wanted a cool football name. We would say to ourselves, “Bo Braunecker that just sounds like a good football name.”

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Photo Credit M. Stewart

Like many boys who play this game, football is like breathing for Bo. You take it away from him and he would not be able to survive.  No … wait that is Fortnite. You take Fortnite away and he would not be able to breathe.

There is something special about this game called football.

As Bo’s mom I don’t think I will ever totally understand it because it is a guy thing.  Bo has said to me on many occasions, “ Mom, it is football. You would not understand.” Football players are called a Band of Brothers for a reason. The Boys of Fall- you mess with one of them you get them all. They have a unique bond.  They are more than teammates. They are brothers. I have seen that from the very beginning when Bo began his Pirate career in 7th grade. Bo didn’t take the route that most Pirates take to Dutch Reis Field. He was not a little pirate football player.  He didn’t grow up with the dream of one day playing for the pirates but his life changed and we moved to southern Indiana. Bo landed in Charlestown.

As a mom, you think about things a little different.  You wonder if your child will be accepted, especially when they move to a new school.  You wonder if your child will get any playing time, especially when coaches know all the families and you hear stories about favoritism with certain last names.  You wonder how other players will treat him. Will they be mad at him if he comes in and takes someone’s spot?

All those doubts went away after the first game when Coach Keltner came and shook my hand and said thank you to me.  I was baffled at first. I said, “ thank you for what?” Coach replied, “ thank you for bringing your son to Charlestown.”

I will never forget those words. I will never forget him. I will never forget that moment. That is when I knew Bo was home.

Pirate football —well there is nothing like it.  When the boys won the Clark Bowl in 8th grade and finished their season undefeated the bus was met at the church on 403. They had a police escort through town.  We took that parade route back to the middle school and people would come out of their homes to cheer for them as we celebrated the end of an incredible season. This was 8th grade football! This town did this for them.  There is something very special about the Homecoming Parade and the pep rally. Bo and Braiden have taken a picture every year at the pep rally with Braiden on Bo’s shoulders. It has become a tradition. Team dinner on Thursday nights. Chinese before the game on Friday.  Then there is the excitement of running out of the helmet. The Friday night trip to Taco Bell after the game.

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8th grade Bo (right) and teammates celebrate a victory.

While, football is called a brotherhood, let’s face it they are teammates and on any team you have a job to do. You have a role. If everyone plays their role and does their job then the team functions and the goal is achieved. Being a good teammate is something that is hard to learn. It is holding others accountable and being held accountable. It is raising someone’s spirit when they are having a bad moment or game.

It is working hard on what needs to get done and celebrating together. It is stepping up to help out when you are called upon.  

Being a teammate means you are assigned a role. Some roles get all the glory. Some roles do all the dirty work with no glory. Bo was never kid the that whined because he didn’t play a certain position. He just wanted to play the game. Anything the coach told him to do, he would do it if it meant being on the field. He is extremely competitive but a very selfless player. He is always putting the team first.  At times, he and I have butted heads over this because I have felt he was not being used to the best of his ability but Bo would always say, “ This is my job. This is my role on the team, This is what I am going to do.” I am proud of him for that. We have always told our children from they day they began playing sports that you play for the name on the front of your jersey not the name on the back. Glad to know he listened. Glad to know he lives by team first not self first.

I am not your typical sports mom.  While I will do the team mom thing and I will bring food and all that good stuff…I am also very competitive. Chad is very competitive. Therefore, Molly and Bo are very competitive. I don’t believe in the “just go out there and have fun and do your best” approach to sports. That is not this mom.  I am the “you better give all you have out there because there is only one winner and you better be it ” approach to sports. I don’t believe everyone gets a trophy for participating and everyone gets equal playtime. I believe you keep score for a reason and the reason is to win. You play to compete and your compete to win.  That is how we have raised our kids. We watch the games and we will call our kids out on the mistakes they made. We talk about the plays and what his thinking was at the time. Why he did this or that. What he learned. Don’t think we are all negative on the boy. We are his biggest fans. No that is his sister. She is the biggest Bo fan.  She could be part of that brotherhood because you mess her little brother and she is coming after you. But, there is always room for improvement. There is always room to learn. You take each game you played and you watch the film. You study it and you make yourself better. Those that put in the time and effort will someday see the pay off.  The same goes in the classroom. You put in the time and effort in the classroom.

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SAT’s before Fall Break Zzz’s

Bo is a student first and an athlete second. He knows that in our family playing sports is a privilege not a right. We don’t have to” let” you play just because you want to and at any time we will bench your butt from a game if you are not respectful not only at school but at home. I contact Bo’s teachers at the beginning of every school year  and I tell them that if my son is ever disrespectful in class I want to know. If you don’t feel he is working to his full potential I want to know. He will not put on that uniform if he is not taking school serious. He will not put on that uniform if he disrespects his teachers. And the same thing goes for his coaches. Bo knows he does not have to like his teachers, coaches or parents but he will respect them if wants to play.  He also knows that his grades are very important. While, he dreams of playing college football or track and field one day he is going to college to get an education first.

If I could say anything to parents who have little ones, I would say encourage your player be a student first and athlete second.

That doesn’t mean they have to National Honor Society students but they need to take school serious. Somehow this world has gotten it backwards. You can’t bank on sports being their way to college. What if they have a terrible injury and can never play again? Put the student before the athlete not the athlete before the student.

Also, teach your child at a young age to give back. Teach your child to volunteer early and they will have a heart that wants to serve others and not feel that it is a chore. Teach them to be kind. That will make them a better teammate.

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Bo and sister Molly

This past summer marked the fourth year that Bo and Molly served at GRACE WEEK. GRACE WEEK is a camp for physically and mentally handicapped individuals. Bo and Molly are peer buddies with the campers that range is age from 5 to 70.  They are on call 24/7 that week. Taking care of the campers every need. Picking them up out of beds or wheelchairs. Getting up in the middle of the night 30 times if need be. They help feed them and help take care of all of their personal needs. The volunteers are exhausted by the end of the week but everyone of them is excited about going back the next year. Teach your child to give back. There is no greater team that Bo has played on than the GRACE WEEK team. You have a role. You work as a unit. You encourage each other. You are held accountable. You put in the work.  That team work has filtered over into his sports teams. It has help mold him into the type of player he is.

I don’t know a single thing about the boys who have worn the number 40 jersey prior to Bo.  I do know that the current 40 wears that jersey with pride. He is constantly working to make himself the best athlete he can be. He works hard at practice and then comes home and works out more. He works on the weekends and off season. Constantly working to be the best player he can be for his team. He gives everything he has every game. He doesn’t stop until that final whistle is blown.  He loves being a part of the football team. He loves being a part of the football family. These boys have been through a lot together. They have had wonderful moments and they have had deep valleys to forge through but through it all they are there for each other.

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Football is truly a brotherhood. Bo feels honored to suit up every Friday and go out there to battle with his brothers for the team he loves. He loves the support the Boneyard brings to the games and how the community supports football. He will come home and say tonight was a great atmosphere to play in.

Bo only has one season left to be 40. I hope his legacy at Charlestown is remembered as being hard-working, team-first, respectful, kind-hearted, a student-athlete and grateful towards all those who support the pirates.

I hope the next boy that coach hands that number 40 jersey to knows what it means to be a Pirate and how lucky he is to have the opportunity to play.


We do too, Michelle. 

Robert “Bo” Braunecker is a linebacker and wide receiver for the Charlestown Pirates high school football team. He is a Junior this season and will graduate with the class of 2020.

1 reply »

  1. A good tribute to my fellow Meanest-Mom-In-The-World! You & Chad have 2 wonderful young adults that have been raised with faith, love & hard work as their foundation. You are sharing your good kids with the world, & it’s all the better for it. Keep up the good work, Bo! We love our Bo-Bo!

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