4th and 10, I thought back to the game. It was a cold rainy Saturday morning, thirty-eight degrees to be exact. It was the 4th quarter with 1:21 to go, the last chance to score. The Wildcats were on the 5 yard line, ready to put six points on the board. The call came in, Philip, the quarterback reiterated what the coach had told him,
“I-Right 26 Toss on Beta”
“Uh-oh,” I thought.
This play had not been successful in any of the previous games, so I was uneasy. We broke the huddle and I jogged up to the line. I was the smallest offensive lineman, 5’8” 138 lbs. I played left guard and I used my knowledge of the game to compensate for my size. The defense showed a goal line formation and the defender lined up in front of me. He had five inches on me and easily one hundred pounds. I heard the cadence
“Down, Set, Black 5… Black 5…. Hike…. Hike.”
I fired off the line stepping with my right foot. I had him for two seconds, but then he broke free. I turned around and saw our running back, Harold on the ground and my heart sunk. I saw a white and orange jersey holding the muddy ball up and I knew the game was over.
“Brendan,” said Harold.
“Sorry,” I said, “I was thinking about something.”
“Well stop thinking and let’s finish this workout.”
It was the offseason and it was time to gain weight and get in shape. My best friends Harold and Noah were always my workout partners.
“You’re up,” said Noah.
It was deadlift day, my least favorite exercise. I groaned and squatted down.
“5 reps, get it done!” said Harold.
That gave me the motivation I needed and I finished out my last rep with a yell.
Noah asked, “Brendan, how much do you weigh?”
“Uh, 149,” I said uneasily.
I knew that if I wanted to play varsity I needed to gain more weight.
“Ok, I see you!” he said.
For some reason, as soon as we started doing football activities, the way we spoke changed. I felt like this gave me two sides. I was able to adapt to my surroundings very well, and our surroundings encouraged this different way of talking. Whenever we worked out I felt at peace. I no longer had to worry about my life, all I had to focus on was the weighted bar on my back or in my hands. The weight room was a strange place in a way. We all changed while we were in it, whether it be our dialect or our emotions. The weight room had a strong effect on our moods. You could be having the worst day, then when 2:30 PM came around, you knew that was all behind you.
I woke up and checked my alarm clock. It read 7:00 AM. Months had passed and the day came, August 14th. I both dreaded this day and I looked forward to it. It meant signing an invisible contract committing my hard work and dedication for over a hundred days. My birthday had passed a few days before and I knew summer was over. I had made a commitment and the start of autumn had begun. I arrived at back of the school and took out my bag. I said goodbye to my dad and walked down the stairs.
Time passed very slowly from that day on until the beginning of school. Every day I felt the pressure of the impending season. I knew that I would have to fight for a starting position or even playing time on offense for that matter. This was not JV where I started every game, this was Varsity football. I remembered a quote that fit perfectly to my situation “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” Certainly I was not.
I watched the minutes slowly tick by during the first week of school. Friday came around and I felt anxiety set in. Were we going to win? Would I play the position I wanted? Hell, would I play at all? Finally the end of the day came.
I heard a loud crack noise coming from the field. The Wildcats’ starting left guard had received a helmet to helmet hit which left him lying on the ground. A few minutes passed and I heard the swooping rotors of a machine. I looked up and saw a white helicopter with a red cross hovering above the field.
“We need a guard!” screamed Coach Williams. “LaVigna, get in there!”
I gathered myself and jogged onto the field. I could feel the weight of the crowd’s eyes watching me. Watching my every move. Every step I took, I could feel the heaviness of the situation and its implications.
The results of each play seemed to get exponentially worse until 3rd and 4 with 3:02 left. I knew it was time to give it all I could. I heard the cadence, and fired out like a bullet out of a rifle. Harold took the handoff and was later tackled. The “chain gang” ran onto the field to measure the spot. My heart was thumping out of my chest. I knew this was it. I looked up to the umpire firing his arm into a straight-like manner towards the direction of the defense. First down! I began to get into a rhythm, the field was my stage and I was able to choreograph a brilliant pattern of steps.
I woke up the next day with a smile on my face. Although we had lost the game, I knew that I had fulfilled the responsibilities bestowed upon me in that situation. The loss did not fluster me, I knew it was in win in my progression towards being the best I could be. I began to think about the next game, and a surge of feelings came about. I felt excited, but this time, not nervous. I knew I had overcome the adversity I had faced.