March 27, 2013 Leave a comment
I can’t place enough emphasis on how the Lord used Coach and my 4 years of high school football to make me into the man I am today. Only as I’ve gotten older have I realized how much of my “me-ness” is the result of a lot of other people’s inputs, hard work, and sacrifices. There are a lot of checks I write today that were bought and paid for by men like Coach. In our current society there really isn’t an official rite of passage where males can know they have passed from adolescence into manhood. But if I had to put my finger on one thing, it was football.
We learned that it doesn’t matter how much you love college football, you will never want to listen to a Lou Holtz inspirational speech for an hour during nap time at Summer Two-A-Days. We learned that “nap time” during Summer Two-A-Days sure didn’t involve much sleeping. We learned that eating at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet before the second daily practice during Summer Two-A-Days is a recipe for disaster. We learned to suck up more physical pain and suffering than we thought we ever could. We learned when to know we were injured and when we were being a baby (or as Coach would say, “You’ll pass out before you die”). We learned that the work you put in at Spring Practice and Summer Two-A-Days paid back dividends large or small depending on what you put into it (or as Coach would say, “Put a little more hay into the barn”). We learned that what you did in the weight room when nobody was looking was what you were really made of (or as Coach would say, “You’re only cheating yourself”). Because of said pain and suffering, the bonds we shared as men were deeper than we probably realized. We learned it was OK to cry when the incredible volume of blood, sweat, and tears you as a team put into the season goes down in flames at 2 state championships. We learned that individual behavior off the field is not so individual and has effects for everyone. We learned that when you’re not a starter, your job in practice is not to make the other guy look good, but to continue to make him earn his spot and root out his weaknesses. We learned that heart can’t be taught or created in a gym. We learned that if you mess up on or off the field, there will be no back-channeling–you will be dealt with in front of everyone and will answer for what you did. We learned to respect our opponents, even when they fought dirty; we don’t sacrifice our character even when it’s inconvenient. We learned that life isn’t fair, and blowing your knee out before the first game of your senior year hurts in ways hard to quantify. We learned that football is probably more analogous to life than just about anything else.
We learned to be men.
Thank you Coach for what you gave us. You’ve earned your rest, and I’ll thank you in person again one day.