Fourth Time's the Charm

January 28, 2008
By Jake Wostmann, Arlington Heights, IL

It was the most wonderful sound I had ever heard. The sound of the crowd roaring as you jog through the tunnel with your teammates, helmets by your sides and shoulder pads weighing' on your shoulders. It was wonderful until I woke up. I had been trying to make the football team for three years straight, and all I had gotten were three of those Xeroxed letters telling you "you weren't the right material". It was the day of tryouts; and for the fourth time in four years, I woke up at 7:30 in the morning, as wide-awake as I would’ve been if I had just taken a swim in the Arctic Ocean. I jumped out of bed and ran downstairs. I quickly ate a light breakfast of cereal and orange juice and ran outside to wait for my ride.
As the bus pulled up, I heard my mom yelling to me from the front door. I turned around and heard her saying "Good luck!" I got on the bus and sat on an empty seat in the back of the bus, hoping no one would sit next to me because I felt like I was going to throw up. I sat there watching the houses and trees fly by on the way to the football field, thinking about the other three times I tried out. Both the first and second times I had been run over in the tackling drills; but the third time, I thought I had done well. I guess I was just not good enough overall. The bus's sudden stop jerked me from my flashback. We were at the football field that converted into a baseball field in the summer. I got off the bus and headed toward the lockers where some volunteers were handing out pads and helmets.
"Wow," one of the volunteers said. "I haven't had to use any of the XS pads yet." Oh, I've failed to mention that I'm merely four foot eight in seventh grade. I went into the locker room and got changed. It smelled like a herd of elephants had gone to the bathroom in there.
After all my pads were on I ran to where Coach Madden was standing in the middle of the field (no. he isn't related to John Madden). First, he gave us the usual speech. "You always have to try hard". "You have to be dedicated", and stuff like that. After the speech, we did warm-ups and then ran around the field twice. Right after that, we did agility drills. My favorite drill was when we had to run around orange cones because, since I'm so small, I'm really agile. Right after that, it was speed drills. I smoked everyone there with a 4.3 on my 40-yard dash. Then it was my favorite part, the passing, catching, and defending drills. My good receiving skills made up for my horrible passing. Finally, came the drill I had been dreading all day, the tackling drill. I crossed my fingers behind my back as the coach paired us together. "OH NO," I thought in my head, as coach paired me with the biggest, strongest guy there, Victor Schmuck. I got the ball first. This was the easy part. I ran up to him, cut right, and in the blink of an eye cut back left and blew past him. I ran back and gave the ball to Victor, getting in position. As the coach blew the whistle, Victor gave me a smirk and ran his hardest at me. He was obviously going to try to just run me over. I set my feet, got down really low, and then he hit. It felt like a bulldozer had just run me over. I started to feel myself going down and Victor coming down with me! In the turmoil, I caught a glimpse of Victor's face, his smile gone, instead replaced with a look of surprise. As soon as we hit the turf, I jumped up, a triumphant look on my face. I had finally beaten someone, and it felt like the best day in my life.


The next day, I ran into the school building, looking, for the football team list that was posted somewhere. I found it on the school activity bulletin board. I took a deep breath and scanned the list. There at the bottom, right above the "Congratulations new football team." was my name.

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