Here's to the Sidewinder players
This column is for the young men who play football for San Luis High School.
These players go out to the gridiron every Friday at 7 p.m. to face their opponent. They trudge out to practice every Monday at 3:15 to brave the Yuma heat. They walk through the halls at school wearing their football jerseys on Friday morning. They meet under the goalpost after every game to listen to their coach. They must love football.
It must be extremely difficult to listen to your critics. Just remember they don't know how much you really like the game of football. If you didn't, you would quit. Why should you go out in 110-degree heat, practice all week, do your best, only to pick up the paper to see how many you have lost in a row.
In my long career, I have had my share of 1-8 seasons in football, 1-16 in basketball and 2-14 in baseball. It was not fun. I thought the season would never end. At times I wanted to slit my wrists, pull my hair out and wear a Halloween mask to school. I was embarrassed until my players set me straight on a bad season. It made me grow up because my players after graduation gave me great pearls of wisdom.
They told me that they knew they weren't very good athletes. They told me they were sorry they had let me down. They told me they felt bad they didn't reach their preseason goals. They were hurt that I got embarrassed.
Well, readers, all 6-foot-5 of me became 4-foot-2. My players said they loved the game, loved practice and couldn't wait for Friday night. My players told me it was the greatest experience they ever had.
“Coach, we still talk about the touchdowns we scored, the hard hits we gave and the receptions we had. We just didn't have enough of them.”
To the football players of San Luis High, I want to throw out a couple of things you might want to think about.
First, don't let a losing streak bother your love of football. A lot of kids across the country would love to put on a jersey on Friday night.
Second, don't worry about what you read in the paper or hear on TV. Three billion people in China don't know the score or care.
Third, never let anyone convince you that you are not good in football. “Good” in football is a very relative term in our country.
Make every first down a touchdown. Make every good tackle a defense stop. Make every touchdown a win.
Sidewinders, never stop battling. You will win in the end.
John Blabe is the former athletic director and football coach at Antelope Union High School. You can reach him at email@example.com.