Saturday, July 25, 2009


My teammates cheered.

Coach didn't say a word and neither did I.

I usually enjoyed Film Day, every Monday afternoon. Long before Camcorders and VHS tapes, our coach would have every game filmed on 16 mm, have it developed overnight and ready for Monday's practice.

Dressed only in football pants and our foul smelling T-shirts, we listened to Coach McCord's analysis of the previous game, his voice barely audible over the rat-a-tat-tat of the projector.

He rarely pointed out good plays, but was quick to find fault. One afternoon, he drilled me. The quarterback called my least favorite play -- I was supposed to pull from my right tackle position and trap the linebacker on the left side of the line. I was too slow for that play, coach knew I was too slow for that play, my feet just couldn't move fast enough to get my body over there. Why did he insist on calling a play he knew I couldn't do?

In the film room, Coach backed the play up five or six times, "Wilson, you've got to get the lead out of your pants. If you're going to remain as our strong-side, tackle, you're going to have to make these plays."

He really let me have it! Finally, he stopped toggling the reverse button and let the play finish. Though it looked like I wouldn't make the block, at the last millisecond, I left my feet, dove in front of the running back and took the linebacker out of the play. Our fullback ran through the hole and made a substantial gain.

I would have liked for the Coach to say "Good play, Wilson," but he didn't. He and I were silent as everyone else cheered.

I wasn't a good football player. The truth is, I was lucky to be on the team. I had size and strength, but was too slow to be effective. Coach was right in assuming I wouldn't make that block, normally I didn't. But this time I did. Not because of ability, but because of heart and determination. As Coach used to say, "Wilson, you've got to give it 110% if you're going to be a starter on my team."

He was right then, and is right now. Thanks Coach, that was a good life lesson.

by: Dr. James L. Wilson

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