Shortly after the Homestead boys socer team's hard-fought 1-0 victory over Port Washington on Sept. 29, forward Gabe Genovesi sat on the bench with a towel over his head rubbing his aching foot.
It got stepped on as he tried to finish up a breakaway in the final two minutes of the game (he was frustrated when the shot caromed off the crossbar) and as it started to feel better, he could start putting the last few weeks as well as the evening itself in full perspective.
Not only had it been both senior and parents night (with the requisite roses being handed out to hard-working and deserving mothers), but a musician in full tartan and bagpipes came out during introductions to lead the teams onto the field with a stately and finely-tuned version of the "Highland Fling".
Later in the game, long-time announcer and retired Homestead orchestra director Shelby Dixon announced that it was Genovesi's fellow co-captain and goalkeeper Chris Browne's 18th birthday. Browne received a nice round of applause for the milestone.
So it was an evening to celebrate on many fronts, but no more so in Genovesi's eyes than that of the team's sock drive that was the centerpiece of this night.. An almost all-consuming passion for the last several weeks for Genovesi (his bedroom was full of them, he said), he and his teammates collected new socks for the Sojourner Truth House for battered women and children in Milwaukee.
Three large blue plastic tubs with a jaunty sign "Got Socks?" attached to them stood by the ticket booth near the soccer stadium. A quick inspection of their contents revealed that they were almost all full.
Which brought a smile to Genovesi's face and relief to his aching foot.
"After counting the socks last night (Tuesday, Sept. 29), I wanted to let you know that the drive collected 540 pairs of socks," he said in an e-mail to me. "I anticipate having well over 600 pairs of socks by the time I turn them over to the Sojourner Truth House this weekend."
"We found more socks in our mailbox this morning and received several e-mails and phone calls from people who are going to be dropping socks off."
The venture was aided greatly, Genovesi added, by the excellent response from Homestead's opponents in Port Washington. He had e-mailed the school's assistant principal and principal about the drive and was stunned when EVERY (the caps are his way of emphasizing the point) player and coach from Port brought socks.
Very friendly enemies indeed.
"I sent over a letter to the high school this morning thanking them for their invaluable involvement," he said.
The overall gesture was very timely and heartening too, Genovesi wrote, as he discovered that in these days of a stumbling economy, earthquakes, tsunamis, and just general uncertainty:
"Isn't it nice to have some positive news for a change?!"
Yes, it is.