Joe the Rooskie plays football in new challenge with Lakeland’s friendly geese

Joe the Rooskie plays football in new challenge with Lakelands friendly geese

Amanda Smith, Staff Reporter

I was walking around campus on a sunny fall day when Lola the goose approached me.

“Want to play a game with me and my friends?” Lola asked. “Almost everybody is gone on campus so no one will bother us.” It was Fall Break, and the campus was cool and quiet.

“What game are you playing?” I asked.

“It’s a form of football.”

“Oh, Vincent Grandillo plays that! But how do geese play football?”

“We use a small stick as the ball, and instead of running we fly up and down the field,” she said. “Instead of tackling, we tag each other. It is much calmer and fun this way.”

“Can I join you?”

“Sure, let’s go.”

We headed over to a grassy field that was surrounded by trees on one end and plowed fields on the other. There were many geese waiting for us. Lola called them over. They split into teams. I was on Lola’s team with 10 other geese. To decide who went first, two geese raced each other from one end of the field to the other end. My team won so we got the stick first.

“You are the one who has to get the stick to the end of the field that touches the trees,” she said to me. “Don’t let anyone touch you. You’re allowed to fly as low as you want but you cannot touch the grass. If someone tags you, land immediately. Do you understand?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“Finally, do not let the stick drop or the other team might get it,” Lola said. “If you feel it slipping, then land immediately. The other geese will try to protect you but if you get ambushed, then just land on the grass.”

“Alright, how do I tell you apart?” I said. “You all look alike to me.”

“That’s a good question,” she said. “Our team can use some mud to put stripes under our eyes, okay?”

“Okay, I think I’m ready.”

“Then let’s play.”

The teams lined up in rows. I heard a loud honk, and Lola yelled at me to go. I started heading in the direction that I thought was right but I heard Lola’s voice behind me.

“Wrong way, Joe,” she said.

I turned around but not fast enough. A goose ran right into me and we crashed in the grass. I stood up unsteadily and saw Lola coming up to me.

“Are you okay?” she said.

“Yeah, I think I am.” I said. “I thought I was supposed to go towards the woods.”

“I did tell you that didn’t I. Sorry my bad,” she said laughing. “Want to try again?”

“Sure, I think I’m okay now.”

I grabbed the stick and took off again. This time I made it all the way without being tagged.

“Good job,” Lola said.

The other team grabbed the stick and took off. I flew after Jack, who had the stick. I tagged him, but I surprised him. The stick fell to the ground, and I went after it. I grabbed it but was immediately knocked to the ground. After taking another tumble through the dirt, I stood up and shook my feathers out. The honk sounded again and I took off. I saw a goose coming on my right and another on my left, so I glided down again. We played until the sun started setting. “Time to stop,” Lola called out.

“Who won?” I asked.

“We don’t keep score since we can’t count,” Lola said.

“So it’s just for fun?”

“Yeah, it’s what we do before we all head south.”

“You’re leaving today?”

“The weather is getting colder so we are going to head for warmer weather.

“Will you be back next year?”

“It depends. If I can be, I will be back.”

“I’ll miss you and everybody else.”

“We’ll miss you too. Stay safe, please,” she said. “Don’t wander off again!”

“Bye, Lola,” I said. “Fly safe and watch out for tall objects.”

“Bye, Joe,” all the geese called as they flew away.

I headed home feeling sad. Who will I play with now, I thought. I need to find a new friend. Dr. Grandillo was waiting for me when I came back.

“Hello, Joe,” he said. “Are you hungry?”

I followed him to my food. It had been a fun day but I was sad to see it end. After eating, I settled into my bed and went to asleep. It had been a tiring day.