The sophomore

This isn’t a story so much about my own act of kindness as it is about a group of boys who made a difference. I am an English teacher at a small school in rural Missouri. Though teaching is my first love, I also am the assistant high school football coach. Last year during the first day of football practice, we had a small, quiet sophomore boy come out for football who had never played an organized sport before. I had taught this boy in my English class the year before, and he was a delight to have in class–inquisitive and knowledgeable about a wide range of subjects. His years of inactivity had not prepared him for the pace of even our warm-up drills, however, and he told me during the first water break that he wanted to quit. I told him that I would make a deal with him. If he could make it through one practice, I would make sure that no one on the football team would ever say a word to him about quitting the team. I He didn’t want to, but he said, “I’ll try coach.” He made it through the rest of the drills that morning, until we started on our conditioning sprints at the end of practice. After the first one, he fell down and was sobbing that he couldn’t do anymore. I went to him, and I told him I would run them with him, and he said OK. We ran six or seven more together. Then something happened that changed this boy’s life. His teammates, who had finished already, got around him and ran the last three with him, encouraging him. When they were done, the team captain said to all the players, “When one of us needs help, we all step in and help. You’re on the team and you’re one of us.” The little sophomore came back that night, and finished the year.

Comments Off on The sophomore