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On the Offensive This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     I was the greatest fourth-gradequarterback the YMCA football camp had ever seen. And why not? I was astout kid, almost impossible to bring down alone, and my arm strengthwas so great that even Troy Aikman could not have thrown the ball as farat age 10. Of course, following this four-day camp, the rest of thefootball league knew I was a force to be reckoned with. After havingpunished players with my powerful runs up the middle or shocking themwith my deep touchdown passes, kids prayed I would join their teams.

One detail, one rule, changed everything, though. On my firstday of practice, Coach solemnly asked my weight. I knew I should havelied but I muttered the truth. He slowly shook his head and told me Icould not play in the backfield; I was over the weight limit. As all mychildhood dreams crashed around me, I realized where I would spend therest of my football career: on the offensive line.

Eight yearslater, I am still one of the offensive linemen, now on my high-schoolvarsity team. I spend my afternoons pounding against another man in thegrueling heat until our coach whistles for us to do wind sprints. Somedays, I find myself sitting in the locker room for 30 minutes afterpractice because I can neither get up nor want to. As if that were notenough, I am often secluded on game nights from the rest of my fans. Ofcourse when we win, I hear “Good game,” but do they reallyknow how I played?

No, it comes with the job description: workhard, sacrifice your body, and accept your role. You may wonder why I dothis, but it is because I love it. Football has become my place to letout my emotions, good or bad. It is a place where no matter whathappened that day, I can forget and concentrate on one goal: to whoopthe man across from me. It is my only option, because if I don’t,I will get knocked around for three long, painful hours. I have had thebest days of my life ruined and the worst days of my life made greatbecause of an afternoon workout. I need football as much as anything inmy life, because I have a passion for the game.

Friday night hasbecome my best friend. After a week of intense, tiring and sometimesmiserable practice, I can finally let out everything on a man in anothercolored jersey. My work is not necessarily exciting, and fans seldomwatch me, but when I knock my man to the ground and watch a running backpass me for a big gain, a divine feeling of satisfaction energizes mybody. Now, being stout pays off since I use my size to maneuver andsometimes pancake my opponent.

After eight years on theoffensive line, I have grown to love the position and how it influencesthe game. If I fail at my job, we lose; if I can dominate my opponent,odds are my success will carry over for our team, and a victorywill be the result.

As a boy, I thought a game’s outcomerested on the shoulders of the quarterback. Now, I have discovered it isI who carries most of the burden.While I love this added pressure, theoffensive line has also taught me to play unselfishly, a trait I willuse in life off the field. Despite the lack of support or knowledge ofmy success from fans, my teammates frequently praise me for qualityblocks. If my running back has a great game, I share his joy because myjob simplified his. The motto “overworked andunder-appreciated” applies to me, but I treasure it because it iswhat I do and who I am.

Eight years ago, I was pummeled withdisappointment when I was moved to the offensive line. Today, I amthankful for the opportunity and the success I’ve had, leaving mewith many memories and much satisfaction, which leads me to think thatmaybe being stout is not so bad after all.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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