“Where are you going?” I asked.
“Don't forget your pushcarts, and don't be late for practice.”
“It's handcarts, coach, and I'm never late.”
This was a daily dialogue between any number of Skousen boys and me. The path they took was about a half-mile across the desert. It led to the Mormon church where the Skousen kids went to seminary every day.
You can't tell the players without a program and you can't tell the Skousens without one either. Dan and Teresa sent six boys for me to coach. Trixie and Mark sent three. Nine Skousen boys over a 20-year period, but I wish there would have been more.
I believe every one of the Skousen boys played three sports: football, basketball, wrestling, track or tennis. They didn't have a lot of training when they came to Antelope, but they made up for it with hard work and practice. For 20 years, an Antelope team without a Skousen wasn't a team.
In a day and age where people complain about education and the type of kids that go to school — lack of motivation, attitude, respect, hard work — they never knew the Skousens. To start off, how many of you travel 120 miles round-trip to school on a bus each day? But the trip is nothing compared with what they accomplished.
Nine boys, nine Eagle Scouts — heck, five or six were valedictorians, and they all worked hard on the farm, too. Daniel, my first Skousen, was captain of the football and basketball teams and ran track. He filled me in on the Skousen way of life. The family farms in the east county were the setting. You get off at Sentinel, hook a left and keep going.
He once told me he started helping his Dad (Dan) when he was 5, by 12 he was a tractor driver supreme. I got a real clue of Skousen family life when I asked his brother, Troy, whether he had watched an exciting college football game. “We don't have TV.”
After I picked myself up from the floor, I asked what he did. “We go to school, play sports, work on the farm, go to church and read.” The Skousen boys read enough books to fill a library. No, I am not writing about the 1890s. I'm writing about the 1990s until now.
I have to pause here and mention the Skousen girls, Tracy for Dan and Teresa; Kayla, Lisa and Shannon from Mark and Trixie. They were all outstanding in school and sports, but I never coached them, and I don't want you to think I'm a sexist pig.
Don't think this is a bland family with no sense of humor; they were every bit as funny as any kids. Clarke, who I nicknamed, “Nails” because of his toughness, could eat more than any lineman I ever had. “Nails,” who was small in stature once consumed enough soft ice cream so that he could not move, only laugh. I asked if he had eaten enough and he replied, “No, I'm going back for sixths.”
On trips to Phoenix, it was always a tradition to pick up the Skousen boys under the bridge before the Sentinel exit. Hence, Darrell became known as the “Troll.” I told him once not to be late and he sheepishly replied, “Can't be late, coach, trolls live under bridges.”
You can always tell the youngest members of the families — “the babies.” Aaron, nicknamed “Seven” because he was the last child of Dan and Teresa, and Kurtis, nicknamed “Scooter,” the youngest of Mark and Trixie, had a little different attitude. They got to watch TV and worked a little less than their brothers on the farm. They even made eye contact with me when they talked, but in every other way they were just like their brothers and sisters.
In a day and age when we question the youths of our country, take a trip to Sentinel, Arizona. Talk to Teresa, Trixie and Mark — Dan is no longer with us — and meet parents who raised families that everyone is proud of.
Coach Blabe can be reached at email@example.com