For Mainland's Scott and Alexa Wilson, flag football is more than a game. It's about family.
A lot of memories are stashed in Buccaneers football coach Scott Wilson’s office at Mainland High School.
Old trophies, cards and pictures cover nearly every inch of available space on his desk and bookshelves.
On the shelf behind his desk is a medium-sized display board with dozens of photographs of past Mainland football and flag football players. But tucked in the bottom right corner of that poster, is an old, faded photo. In it is Scott’s “heart and soul,” his 2-year-old daughter, Alexa Wilson, stumbling around the practice field at Mainland with Scott attempting to strap a yellow flag around her tiny waist.
The moment, captured nearly 12 years ago, seemed to foreshadow what was to come for the Wilson family — who all eat, sleep and breathe football, and bleed the Buccaneer’s blue and gold.
Scott is the head coach of the Mainland flag football team, a role he’s served in since 2003. Lex, as her father affectionately calls her, is the Buccaneers’ starting quarterback
Lex has played football for most of her life. She played pick up against her two brothers and the rest of the neighborhood boys. And during most summers and weekends, the Wilsons would host flag football tournaments from sun up to sun down.
Scott noticed something different about his daughter even then: her ability to throw the ball, her quick decision-making and her competitive streak. All things learned from the countless hours spent watching her dad coach Mainland’s boys varsity team. Scott said he estimated that Lex has attended roughly 500 of those practices.
By the time she was in eighth grade, Lex was taking snaps at quarterback for the flag football team during practice.
“It just come naturally to her,” Scott said.
But what has come the most naturally is her ability to take constructive criticism — especially from her father.
COACH VS. DAD
Lex, a 14-year-old freshman, made her high school flag football debut on March 7 against Atlantic.
For the first offensive series, Scott called a double pass. Lex was supposed to receive the first pass and then launch a throw downfield. It was a play they’d drilled over and over again in practice. But instead of keeping her eye on the ball, she was already looking downfield for an open receiver — and she dropped the ball.
The next play ended with the ball in the dirt, and the Buccaneers punted the ball away without gaining a single yard.
Scott was furious. He screamed at her all the way to the bench.
“Dang, why is he yelling at me so bad for?” Lex thought to herself.
She responded by connecting on 12-of-18 passes for 117 yards, 4 touchdowns and a 31-0 victory.
“It’s amazing how well she takes me as a coach,” Scott said. “There’s sometimes where I get so upset with her and I call her out. That’s the moment were I’m a coach and not dad. I’m her coach, and I’m tougher on her than I am anybody else on the team. But she wants to get better from those mistakes. She’s very, very competitive in everything that she does, and she works hard for it.”
It’s not always yelling and screaming, though.
In the Buccaneers’ game against Matanzas on April 2, Lex threw off her back foot and the pass was intercepted — her first of the season.
Scott was calm on the sideline.
“What did you learn?” he said.
She corrected the error by completing 15-of-23 passes for 133 yards and threw her 20th touchdown of the season to help the Buccaneers come out with the win.
“We’re so close that he can yell at me on the football field and we’ll go home and still be best friends,” Lex said. “He knows he can get onto me because that’s what I need to get better. I need to get my head in the game.”
She added: “Football means business. I’m not the kind of person who just plays football for the heck of it. I want to win, too. I want to compete.”
Scott is tough on all of his children — biological or otherwise.
“If those kids know you’re invested in them, just like your own children, they will be willing to do whatever it takes to get better,” he said. “Because they know that at the end of the day, you love them.”
As Scott sat in the car on the way to a flag football game mid season, he whispered a prayer to God.
He couldn’t help but feel thankful for the opportunity he’s had this past season to coach his daughter — a dream he’s had since he first strapped that old yellow flag on her all those years ago.
“She comes from a thick line of Mainland blood. To see her put on the blue and gold, that’s special to me,” he said. “Whatever’s running through my blood as a football player, it’s running through her blood, too.”