Written by Mike Morris
Football! In the 8th grade, I decided I just HAD to play football if I was going to have any chance for the girls to like, or to even notice me. I went to the Coach and told him I wanted to try out for the football team. I’ll never forget the look on his face as he intertwined his fingers behind his head and leaned back in that creaky old swivel chair. As he contemplated my announcement…almost a sneer came upon his face, but then, with a slight grin…a reply came of, “Son…have you ever played on a school football team?” “Yes sir…on my 6th grade team at Crockett!” He then replied, “Well son, that was two years ago and most of the team members here have done some growing since then, but looks like you’re a little behind”. Well, this really instilled me with a lot of confidence! Way to go Coach! He then sent me to the locker room where I was outfitted with some of the stinkiest, dirtiest, old and heavily padded uniform I had ever experienced. I think the padding, for the most part, was cork…crumbled cork…and very thin at that! The shoulder pads fit like they had belonged to The Incredible Hulk, and were so heavy I could barely lift them over my head to put them on. They had no tie-downs so the jersey (also a Hulk item), had to hold the shoulder pads in place. It was so bad that when I ran drills, the pads would bounce up and down so badly that I was blind on the up bounce, and slammed to the ground on the downstroke…well… almost. It was at that point that I gained immense respect for any running back who could outrun their adversaries wearing all of this heavy chain mail. You could hear me running from across the street I rattled so loud! It was like trying to run with another person piggyback! Then, after a week or two, Coach began teaching us blocking skills. After a few “dry” lessons on the blocking dummy, he started us on “live” blocking practice. Ok, here I am at a whopping 125 pounds, (wet), and Coach matched me to a blocking partner named Norman Booth. Now with a last name of Booth, you can just conjure up a pretty good image of good ole’ Norman (did I mention the word telephone?). Ok, we line up across from each other. It was actually a little cooler for me while I was in his shadow. Then, coach utters “Hut!”, and I immediately felt that I had just been hit by a stray car that had accidently left the street! Then, l feel Coach lifting up on my waist band trying to get me to take a breath, I guess. That padding did absolutely nothing to protect me…nothing! Afterwards, another player looking on when I was “Boothed”, told me everybody watching groaned when it happened. Some solace! I moaned too…for about three days. Well, that ended the desire for me to do something so foolish just to get attention from the pretty little girls. That was enough for me! In fact, I was really glad there weren’t any girls watching when the attempted murder took place. I think I saw Coach smiling when they carried me to the locker room. Hummm….I wonder?
It was at this time I decided to join the band and learn to play the drums. One of the best decisions I ever made. It later opened up opportunities that I never imagined.
Soon to come…my high school years…loved every minute of them!