As I’m sitting here reading through scholarship applications, I have come to fully realize just how long it has been since being in high school. I really see why Coach Proctor kept a journal from his younger days to reflect back on his mindsets during those years. It really started taking me to memory lane…
I definitely miss the nervous feeling before every football game my sophomore year, literally visualizing every play with its respective foot work in our wing t offense, or being super pumped my senior year playing running back with one of my best friends blocking. I remember warming up in new warm up suits before basketball games, calling man offense, and Coach French stomping on the floor as we did something sloppy. Our biggest moment was winning the tournament when Jamar hit the 3 at the buzzer. What a game!! Every single baseball game my 10th grade year out in left field, you could find me with David Ranch Sunflower seeds in my back right pocket, and Jim Beam Barbecue seeds in the left. Our pitchers were awesome, so we had to find something to keep us focused in the outfield. One huge lessons I learned that year was never try to catch a pop up like Willie Mayes. Coach Smooth doesn’t care if you got the out, he cared about the fundamentals. He always stressed those in both football and baseball. There was nothing worse then coming to practice Monday still sore from Friday’s football game to find out that there was no special treatment for losing or soreness, only an opportunity to get better before the next game. That lesson has continued with me since - there is only one way to get better in your life, and that is through your work ethic.
The roller coaster cheer at volleyball games will definitely be something I won’t forget, nor will I ever throw away the signed shirt from all the talented female athletes we had that year. I remember each morning walking pass the gym, down the senior hall way, and to first block in Coach Morgans Accounting class one of those younger years. It taught me just how much I loved computers as he had us manually calculate debit and credits in the work book. That’s the same class I was in when our principal came over the speaker to announce that passing of Brendan. That morning wasn’t one where class actually mattered for anyone in our school. His favorite quote still remains as one of mine: life’s a garden, dig it! In Middle School he sat our lunch table, one of the funniest lunch tables in the history of that small middle school. His bacon and cheese sandwiches were revolutionary, and soon we all started bringing them in. I still find it funny that someone lifted up the table, wouldn’t confess, so we all ended up in lunch detention.
I still remember getting made fun of once for asking Coach French to go through our offensive plays for me as a point guard, to make sure I knew what every one did. Even funnier is how the people who laughed at it, were the ones to ask you for help during the games. Leadership is letting things go at times, being assertive at others, and putting the team above your own interest. As I think on just how does one get leadership experience in their younger days, it makes me think back all the way to midget football. They chose for me to be quarterback, and just like in Outliers, the hours of practice for me started young - allowing me to practice them more regularly as the leadership positions were offered to me in older years based on previous positions.
Sports for me back then were the way of life to get me into Duke. Between playing football and basketball throughout the summer. We went fishing, swam at the reservoir, went jumping off the rocks in the quarry, and listened to the old school Drake albums on our way to basketball nights at SVCA. Mcdonald’s was the hang out spot and Egg + Cheese bagels for $1.50 happened to be my favorite meal on Saturdays with two of my best friends still to this day David and Dylan. I love sports and the weight room because when your on that court nothing else matters except you, your opponents, and the game. It’s in those moments that prove just how right Will Smith can be with his Talent vs. Skill argument. Hard work wins every time. My dad MADE me go to that weight room during my 8th grade summer, leading me to learn the discipline of consistency required to grow in your life
My last few reflections of the night, even if there are many many more from those years, will be of the night Coach Proctor gave us the speech before the Central game, and how we won that and also his 300th game the same year before he retired. I’ll never forget one of the stories he told us in his class that has stuck with me since. During his college years, he was tasked with building a model of something. Coach Proctor created the most exquisite model of a football field and took it to class. Everyone told him he was an over-achiever. His reflection was that he couldn’t believe how our culture could actually think that is a bad thing. I totally agree with him - especially now being in the work force - who doesn’t like working with someone who over achieves by producing work that helps the team? No one. Paying attention to detail and doing things right are positive qualities. If someone disagrees - bonkers (my new favorite word) to them! He taught us the importance of supporting the ones you love and the importance of teaching younger generations the values they need to succeed.