Phil_UT has provided us with another fantastic guest post.
I often thought it was funny when I saw the poster that was entitled “All I Need To Know About Life I Learned From Star Trek”. Until one day when I actually read some of the statements, and found it was surprisingly true. However, in my life I can say that everything of value I learned in life was from football. Well, not totally true, so let’s just say one of the most important things I have learned in life came from an experience in football. So, to enlighten and amuse you, I will tell you the story that has quite literally changed my life.
As a young sophomore starting my first year playing football for our small town High School football team, I was a bit concerned when we arrived for the first two-a-day practices to find that we had a new coach. The superintendent of our school. After all, he was the man with the paddle (yes, back in the day it was perfectly acceptable to spank unruly students). For those of you that might not be familiar with football, two-a-day practices start a couple weeks before the actual start of the school semester and are designed to do one thing – kill you. The coaches would tell us that they are intended to get us in shape, but we knew the reality, it was legal murder. These practices were two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon of non-stop exercise, running, more exercise and more running. Well, on this particular day, after two hours of work, most of the players could hardly stand, much less walk. The coach called us up, so we all met in the middle of the field and he told how terrible we looked and if we did not get any better we would not win a game. Really quite the motivator. After his speech, we thought he was done, so wearily we head to the locker room. Looking over our shoulders we could still see the coach standing in the middle of the field watching us. We were confused. Right before we got to the locker room door, the coach hollered out to us: “ Gentleman, were are you going?” Now we were really confused. He then said, pointing to a bus parked in the drive: “ Gentleman, do you see that bus? Get on it, now”. Well, we were now so totally confused, we did as he said and slowly got on the bus. He then got on and drove us exactly one mile away from the school and told us to get out of the bus. As we gathered around the outside of the bus, the coach came out looking at his watch and said: “ gentleman, you have twelve minutes to make it back to the school, if even one of you does not make it in that time, we will do this again, the time starts now”. WE made it back, but barely.
After the evening practice that same day, we heard the same thing from our coach: “Gentleman, get on the bus”. Again he drove us exactly one mile away from the school and this time told us we had eight minutes to make it back or we would do it again. Day in and day out this same procedure repeated itself after each and every practice. Even after school started and games began, we would always end practice with the now tiresome cry of “Gentleman, get on the bus”. The time that we had to make it back to school varied each time, but the consequence if we failed was always the same, we would have to repeat the run. No matter how we did in practice or in games, it was always the same. For three years this went on and none of us ever quite understood why he made us run that mile each and every practice after we had already given all we had to give during practice.
Finally, at the end of my senior year of football, at an All State banquet, I got the nerve to ask coach. I said, “Coach, every single day for the last three years we always gave you everything we had and more. We always tried our hardest and yet every single day you made us run that extra mile. Why?” His answer changed my life that day and has helped guide me through all of life’s trials and triumphs. He said, “ Phil what was your team record the last three years?” I answered “ 33 and 3.” He responded. “ Pretty good, wouldn’t you say?” Of course, I replied with a “yes”. He then asked, “did we have any single superstar on this team?” We did not, we were just all an average bunch of players, and so I replied, “No”. He then said, “Phil, the reason you were so successful was that no matter what you all were always willing to go the extra mile, not for yourself but for your team.”