Following the journey of award winning author, Alex Azar, as he travels the publishing world and all things interesting. To reproduce or publish any material found within this blog, please contact me at azarrising@hotmail.com

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Coaching Team Sports


Coaching Sports Teams
by Alex azar 

Standing on a bench Coach Conic preaches to his audience about the importance this night entails.  With a lump in his throat and a tug at his heart he fills the otherwise silent locker room with his sermon.  His words fall on 24 pairs of ears, all belonging to soon-to-be men, who for three hours a week worship this man as their savior and leader.  This is high school football.
“Gentlemen, tonight begins your journey to manhood.  Most would say that journey ends the first time you have sex, but if that were the case, half of you would already be men, and the other half won’t become so for another 20 years.”
After a quick chuckle from the group, Thomas Johnson, a transfer student and the only player on the team to not have had the privilege of playing under the guidance of Coach Conic for the past three years raises his hand with a puzzled look.  “Coach, I know I’m new around here, but this is just high school football, right?”  The entire rest of the team seems to lower and shake their heads in unison.  Noticing this, Johnson defends himself, “I mean guys, come on don’t you think he’s taking this a little too seriously?  It’s just football, it’s not pro, or even college.”
Professionally hiding his anger and disgust Coach Conic composes himself, “Johnson, you’re right you are new here, and you better be damn glad I let you on the varsity team.  This is my first year coaching an entirely senior team.”  Jumping down from the bench, he points to the entire ensemble before him.  “For each and every one of you, this is your last real season of football, in fifteen minutes you start the first game of the only season that will matter in your life.  Furthermore, this is my last year coaching, when the season is done, so am I.”
Everyone in the locker room drops their jaws, including the defensive coach who was also clearly unaware.  “Larry, what are you talking about, you’ve still got another ten years coaching, minimum.”
“I know, I know but I’m going to end on a high note.  I’m going out with a team of seniors after winning nationals.  I understand that’s still another four months away, but that journey starts tonight.  After this season, you’ll all go on to play college ball, and that’s the beginning of the end.  High school ball is the pinnacle period of the sport, because this is the last time the sport is played for the love of the game.  From here you go to college, were all that matters is what pro team you can go to for the most money.  And love is replaced by greed, passion by money, that Johnson, is why this season is so important.”  After shooting a look at Johnson, Conic jumps back on the bench, “Team, the moment is at hand; on three tell me who you are.”  The entire team begins slamming the locker doors repeatedly, and over the clamor, “One, two… THREE!”
In a unified eruption, “Devils!”
“Again!”
“Devils!”
“Again!”
With a final synchronized slam of locker doors, “BLUE DEVILS!”
The team runs out of the locker room, down the long dark hallway, and explode onto the football field, led by their captain quarterback, Jermaine Worthman.  The team’s greeted by the roar of the crowd, a crowd ecstatic at the sight of the team they know will bring home a championship again this year.  The roar continues for another ten minutes until little Amy Presley steps onto the field at the fifty yard line.  She sings a rousing rendition of the “National Anthem,” with a voice so loud and powerful it has no right coming from this tiny 95lb girl.
After little Amy steps off the field the chant starts, “Devils!” And it doesn’t end until the victorious Blue Devils walk off the field after a record breaking opening day 56 point shut out.  The team’s journey to manhood has truly begun this glorious night.
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And so the season went, victory after victory, shut out after shut out.  In total, the team amassed over three hundred points in this single season, allowing less than 60 total points.  Truly a record breaking season; a season, more than any other, meant to go into the history books. 
If asked what they attribute the teams stellar performance, the fans are torn.  Half accredit Coach Conic’s passion for the game and infallible coaching skills, and the other half accredit the immaculate playing by this incredible team of All Stars, all destined for fame.  However, if any player is asked, they all attribute their victories to their desire to please Coach Conic, during this, his final season.  To the team, every victory, every touchdown, every interception, even every tackle is dedicated to Coach Conic, the man who single-handedly ushered them into manhood, even the doubting Johnson. 
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Standing on a bench Coach Conic preaches to his congregation about the importance this night entails.  “Gentleman, it seems like it was only yesterday that I was atop the bench in our own locker room, preaching to you all how important this season would be.  Well, here we are four months later and I’m still standing on top of a damn bench, we’ve still got another 15 minutes before kick off.  But the difference is, this bench is in the locker room of the Arizona Cardinals, and in 15 minutes we kick off to the last game of our lives.  Gentlemen, welcome to Nationals!”
The team erupts in a wail of joy, the moment is almost enough to bring a tear to Coach Conic’s eye, but not quite.  That’s when team captain Jermaine stands up just before Conic and quiets down the team.  All eyes on him, but Conic’s the most confused, “Coach, in appreciation of all that you’ve done for everyone of us, we all pitched in together and got you something.”  Jermaine directs Conic with his hand to look towards the door, where Johnson is coming in with a large box.
“Gentlemen…”  Too choked up for words Coach Conic can’t find anything to say.
Coach Rice, the defensive coach puts his hand on Conic’s shoulder, “Larry, you didn’t even see what they got you, don’t cry yet.”
Laughing, Conic hops down form the bench and opens the box that Johnson and Jermaine placed before him.  He pulls out a 12’ bronze statue of a football team, holding up a coach, and an engraving on the front.
Coach Conic
Coach of the Millennium
Thanks for the Memories

Now Conic does shed a tear, “All I can say is, let’s see if I can live up to it.  Here we go again for the last time, on three tell me who you are.”  And in a practiced rhythmic pattern the entire team begins slamming the locker doors repeatedly, and in labored breaths through the tears Conic yells for the last time, “One, two,… THREE!”
“Devils!”
“Again!”
“Devils!”
“Again!”
Slamming the locker doors for the last time, slamming the doors as a sign of their dedication, slamming the doors for the love of the game “BLUE DEVILS!”
Led for the final time by Jermaine Worthman, down different yet familiar hallways, the team runs out to the field, they run to glory.  
This is high school football.

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This was another one where it took me six days to think of the story and only a short while to actually write it.  The major difference being the two-three paragraphs that I edited out of the end.  After the halftime speech in the final game the original ending had the coach kill the entire team and himself so they wouldn’t be corrupted, but that seemed too extreme even for me, and just altogether out of place.  So what’s left isn’t much of a story per-se, one friend likened it to a journalistic piece, which I can’t wholly refute.  I would like to mention that the name Coach Conic was a coach from my high school track team and felt it worked well with the ‘c’ theme.