By John McElligott
The 4th grade proved to be a challenge since Sister Michael John was a better athlete than any boy or girl in our class. In addition, she was super strict. Sister MJ, as I called her, was young, pretty and put us boys through kneeling drills quite often (and me it seemed all the time).
What made the 4th grade different from the 3rd grade was the girls were getting much more attractive and we exchanged discs. This was a custom that suggested a childhood relationship often that seemed like love. It did not last long so… I guess not. I would mention the girls by name but some are no longer with us or I cannot find them via my long list of friends. However, is was a feeling that started to chip away at my priestly aspirations. Now getting my mother to pay for a disc that said “John” was like asking for a new car. But she bought one for me and my brother Bruce. I did exchange discs, and felt like a glowing handsome star with a girlfriend, who now was known as Miss Star Girl.
Now my altar boy duties did not suffer, but football tryouts did look interesting. Several 4th graders were skilled and big enough to tryout. The only problem was we were not eligible to play on the 7th and 8th grade teams until we were at least in the 5th grade. So, we had to wait until spring to show our skills. Having Sister MJ chasing us 5 days a week really helped us run fast and change directions fast and quick. Now I always let the girls catch me, especially the one with whom I had exchanged discs. Susan O was pretty and never had to chase me more than a few feet. I was an easy catch for her. But Sister MJ would catch you and make you kneel in a corner until you started crying. Not me. Being an altar boy, I could kneel for hours and sometimes all day and never cry.
Finally, football tryouts happened! I and a few others made the cut. The seventh graders were big but the eighth graders were giants. That is where my speed paid off… finally. Seventh and eighth grade players like Marty Buckley and Paul Cheneau were tough acts to follow especially when the quarterback was Benny Burleson. He was a superstar! I knew my 5th grade year was going to be interesting and hard since now I would be playing guys bigger than my friends Joe O’Neill, Harry Miller, Michael Burns and Richard Hughes. Even my friends were at least a foot taller than Star Man.
Remember Star Men come in all sizes. It’s their imaginations and brains that get them to star status!