In my youth, there were some of Springsteen’s Glory Days. And there were moments of intense failure. Many who never play sports cannot relate to this. They think sports are silly or a mere artifice of life, an escape from reality.
Tell that to a ninth grader that just put one out against the ace of the league. Tell that to a sixteen year old facing future major leaguer, Charles Kerfeld, a 6’6”, 245 lb., mountain of a boy, we called Magilla Guerilla. He threw a 95 mph fastball in American Legion ball. Scared? Don’t ask. Talk about waiving at fastball and bailing on a curve. Are you kidding?
Tell that to a sophomore, who earned a starting position, only to have his ankle blown out. That same boy crawled to the kitchen in the middle of the night for more aspirin. He was crying. But in order to understand those tears you have to understand the desire to play so bad that tears are an easy part of not getting to. It is not the physical pain. It is the failure to achieve what is set before you.
Tell that to a high school senior, after getting a bottom of the seventh game- winning hit off the best pitcher in the southern conference, for the second game in a row. Tell that to the same boy when the coach of the same team refuses his pitchers to throw him a strike in the playoffs in order to go to state. Tell that to the starting running back pulled from the game after two fumbles in the first quarter when his college football player brother had traveled down to see him play. Tell that to the entire team that beat Borah High for the first time in 26 years, to make it to the state championship. Tell that to the frustrated running back, beaten and bruised at halftime in a 35-0 debacle of a state championship. We went on to lose 55-13.
It was just a game. But it wasn’t. It was our lives. What is more, as I look back over time, over these events of my life, I realize that it wasn’t just a game, and it wasn’t just my life. All of those events are part of my life, now, twenty-five years later. They are part of who I am and they are part of who I will be twenty-five years from now.