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?”
“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!”
…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.