The Power of a Man

2019-01-22 12.51.24

The summer before my freshmen year (‘94), I decided two things were going to happen: 1) I was going to play high school football, and 2) I was going to be the biggest, baddest  guy to take the to take the field at East High School. So, I rode my bike from my neighborhood all of the way to the high school weight room, about 6 miles away, to the 3-day-week open lifting sessions. At the first workout, on the first day, I encountered this big, scruffy white guy wearing Zubaz who was acting supervisor:

“You are pretty big (not nearly as big as him). Where are you from? Out of state? What are you, a sophomore?”

“No.”

“Well, anyway, why don’t you lift with me today. I’ll show you how a real man does it!”

Long story short, I was sore for 7 days and did not go any of the other sessions that week. Finally, the following week, I had recovered enough to make the journey back to the weight room.

Bearly man was still there and he was not happy with me:

That is when I learned that this man was a football coach.

“Look, I would like you to play on the junior varsity for me, but you need to man up. I expect you to be in here at least four times a week.

The weight room was only open for three, but there was no way in the hell I was going to correct him at this point. Wait! Did he say J.V?

“Here, take this tank top…”

It was the first piece of high school equipment I would have. A red, oversized tank top that said, “East High” on the front and, “If it is going to be, it is up to me” on the back – a quote that I use to this day.

(laughing) “…may be some day, you will be able to fill it out.”

He definitely took his aggression out on my that day. As a matter of fact, on multiple occasions, I honestly thought he tried to kill me.

“185? That’s horseshit! Put 225 on there!”

Jesus.

…and that is how it would be for an entire summer.

The next fall, I found myself being a freshman tightend for the East Anchorage Thunderbirds. Was it exciting? Yes. Was I horseshit? 2 receptions, 1 touchdown.

Those are season stats. Yes.

But what a year it was. There was a man that saw something in my and decided that he was going to invest time in bringing the best out of me — he did. Growing up, I was very fortunate to have a strong support system of men in women in my home town. There are many men and women that had a profound impact on my life. He was one of them.

I recently learned that Coach Craig Dunn passed away. He was a good man who took me (along with a ton of other athletes) under his wing and showed me a work ethic in the weight room that I try to instill in many knuckleheads as a coach.

P.S. I grew into that tank top in college.

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Coach Craig Dunn (middle, bearded) mentored many young men at multiple high schools within the Anchorage School District.

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