A Dreadful Summer

June 4, 2012
By ClevelandClark5 BRONZE, Chicago, Illinois
ClevelandClark5 BRONZE, Chicago, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Camp Shawanaze, a camp like no other. I first got word of the camp from my father, a good friend of my coach, Coach Brown. After talking a little and doing a little research, I found out that the football team would be participating in a two day football development camp with Simeon High School. As every high school sports fan knows, Simeon is one of, if not "the" best in basketball and football in Chicago. Those same fans also know that my school isn't one of the top football programs in the city. Knowing that it would be one of the best teams in a camp with one of the worst teams, me and a lot of my teammates were very skeptical about this. I talked to Coach Brown everyday trying to talk him out of taking us to a two day camp to get beat up and bullied everyday. But after being ignored several times, I knew there was nothing my team or I could do; we were going to Camp Shawanaze.

On a hot summer night, around 7:00 p.m., we boarded a bus in route to the camp. On the bus, I thought of all the bad things that could possibly happen at the camp. I tried to get some sleep, but being nervous yet anxious, I stayed up for the entire four hour drive. During the drive, a lot of thoughts went through my mind. Being the competitive person I was, I decided to not fear this camp, but embrace the challenge. I talked about my new way of thinking to my quarterback Ahmad. He agreed, and we even had a team talk while on the bus. We encouraged our team to take on the challenge we were being faced with. So now everyone was on the same track and mindset.

We finally arrived at Camp Shawanaze at about 10:00 p.m. We unloaded all our bags and equipment off the bus. We were divided into groups of five players to stay in one cabin. I was happy because I knew we would at least have first pick at that good cabins, if there were any. On the way to the cabins, Simeon's two buses worth of players arrived. Our coach, being good friends with Simeon's coach, told us to be gentlemen and help Simeon unload all their belongings off the buses. As I got to the last couple of bags, I noticed that they only people who were helping was me and my teammates. Majority of Simeon's players had already gone to the cabins and took all the good ones. My teammates and I were stuck with the dirty cabins closest to the woods. I could notice that my teammates spirits were shattered, and mine was a little. But it was soon time to go to sleep.

The first official day of camp, we woke at 6:00 a.m. for a five mile morning jog. My body was not use too taking this kind of punishment especially this early in the morning. I was one of the last people to finish, as was the majority of my team. After the run they told us the schedule for the day. It was breakfast, practice, lunch, practice, break, practice, showers, then lights out. We went to breakfast, which was one of the better parts of the day. Then was the first practice. I knew this wouldn’t go good. We got destroyed for three whole practices. Both coaches and players were ready to quit. It seemed like the only time we weren't arguing was on break and while eating. On the other hand, we had survived the first day and it was lights out. I laid in my bed, unable to sleep, thinking about how bad of a day I had and how tomorrow would probably be worse. Even though I had a lot on my mind, I was eventually able to go to sleep.

Day two and the last day of camp. We once again woke up at 6:00 a.m. for the five mile morning jog. After breakfast we had a long team talk. The coaches gave us a long motivational speech about how we shouldn’t fear Simeon simply because their name and reputation. They told us they were just as human as we were, "they put their pants on just like you, one leg at a time." Personally, I took the speech to heart and was ready to go out and redeem myself and the team pride. I assumed everyone else wanted the same. But once again we fell short. Simeon demoralized us for another full practice. At lunch many of us didn’t event talk to each other out of anger and frustration, neither did the coaches. It seemed like things couldn’t get any worse, but it did. After a silent lunch, it was once again time to practice. This practice had something in store for us that no one knew about it. The second practice not only punished our bodies more, but we also suffered a few major injuries. This was a huge blow to the team. Frankly, my team and I were ready leave. At break, we had one last talk. We talked mostly about the same previous issues and topics. But for some strange reason there was a feeling in the room, I could tell everyone was getting the message. We were no longer just at a development camp, but we were now trying to fight for our pride.

The last practice of the day wasn't ordinary at all. We a did game situation; us verses them. Before we started we decided to have a team prayer. We asked to have a great last practice and that everyone played their hardest. We ended up playing some of the best football some of us had ever played. We were doing better than anyone would have every thought. We were competing with Simeon blow for blow. We ended the game with a tied score and for the first time during the whole camp, Simeon's players and staff were actually taking us serious and as a threat. After the game we all congratulated each other. We had finally got what we deserved; respect.

This simple two day development camp seemed like it was months. Funny how something as small as a name of a school could carry as much fear as Simeon's name did. It caused us to play at a level that wasn’t really our true level of play. It took us many speeches and two days of harsh practices to realize that everyone is human and "everyone bleeds the same." We put an unnecessary wall up between ourselves and Simeon. This was a great learning experience. I realized that no one person should be put on a pedestal based solely on a reputation. Also, I learned the value or having pride and confidence no matter the circumstance. Most times people never reach their full potential because of fear. From then on out I remembered to always have confidence and pride in everything I do.

The author's comments:
An experience playing football in the summer of 2010.

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