Monday, January 23, 2023

1992

 Everyone has favorite years in their lives.  Mine centered around football; my junior year in high school when we went to the Maryland State Championship, my senior year in college, and 1992, when I was coaching at Gardner Webb University and we played for the NAIA National Championship.

I began coaching as soon as I was done playing football in 1988. Well, I took a little detour first, basically failing all of my classes my senior year after football was over for me. Every fall for 14 years, I played football, and the prospect of being without the game that I loved messed with my head so badly that I went from a body weight of 245 to 189 in a few months, punishing myself in some warped way because I would never play again. So I failed out and went home to Maryland. But that was no good. I was living at home, a 20-something grown man living with his parents. After a summer of working at a golf course, I came to the realization that I better get my shit together, and graduate college. So I went back to Gardner Webb University and apologized to all my advisors and then volunteered to coach football. I did it for no money, but I had to be around football. I worked; delivering pizzas, clearing land, and odd jobs. Clearing land for my pharmacist buddy was the best one. 

He would say, Ed was his name, Ed would say, dig a trench from here to there, and lay that PVC pipe down in it. I'll be back in a few hours. 

He was building a new house and he had a spread: Around 20 acres of land with a pond and woods to hunt. He would pay me 10 bucks an hour. I'd go to the convenience store when I got off work and buy some fine-cut Kodiak and then go to the beer store (coldest beer in town! The sign read) and buy some long-neck Bud. Or if I was really broke, some Milwaukee's Best.  

 I was never known for making smart decisions, but I was smart enough to know that I could not work a "real job" and also coach football. I started coaching in 1989 as an assistant defensive line coach and worked my way up to head defensive line coach and head strength coach by 1992. 

1992 was magical. I had a great defensive line that I worked with every day. I had some tough, hard-nosed country kids that would run through a brick wall if I asked them to. I was tough on them. We came out to practice 30 minutes before everyone else, and in the North Carolina heat, we did bag drills and we did full-speed blocking drills and we ran and we hit some more. If one player even grazed a bag, the whole group started all over after some grass drills. It wasn't about the bags. 

In football, you do stuff for team camaraderie, for toughness, for making the players realize that they must work together or they will suffer together.  I also wanted them to be in such great shape that they never got tired in a game. I had Gabe Wilkins, who started for the Packers for a few years as one of my defensive ends. He was 6'5 and 300 pounds and ran a 4.6 for the pro scouts. I used to tell him to run people over and he could do it every time. And then there was Lance, BA (9 sacks in 3 playoff games), Chappell, Chicken man, Clay, and Brad all of them were tough as nails. These kids were all southern kids, most were country kids, and most understood authority and respected it and fucking listened. In these families, the father's word was law, or if there wasn't a father around, it was Momma who you respected above all else. Or you got the belt or something worse. I hunted with them and hung out with them. A few, I drank with, like BA and Lance. We were close friends and hell, Lance lived with me. Somehow, maybe because they were all mature, I could be a dick on the field to them and we always left it on the field. And I could be a real dick.

We went undefeated in the conference that year, and it was magical. I loved those guys, and although I was tough on them, I looked forward every single day to coaching them. Back then, we didn't follow many rules, hell, I didn't know what half the rules were.  For instance, every Thursday night, I had the defensive line over to my spartan apartment to eat and hang out. BA's mom and her friend would drive down from Hickory, North Carolina to feed us. She used to bring me a fifth of Evan Williams and some Sundrop ( like Mountain Dew) and she and I would stand in the kitchen and drink and talk. The boys would eat and we would watch some television and just talk about everything. Damn, those are good memories. 

I have so many stories from back then. Some, I would not tell because I'm not sure of the statute of limitations of the particular actions that went on. 

We lost the National Championship that year, but it doesn't matter. It was a great year and great memories. Maybe the best memory was when it was a 4th down in the playoffs and Concord was driving to score and they went back to pass to throw a touchdown to win the game, and good old Lance, my roommate, and he of the multiple knee surgeries, hustled and waddled like a madman and sacked the quarterback to win the game. It was amazing, the determination that he showed. I can see it now. I was crying so hard that I could barely address the guys after the game. I was so proud of them. 

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Really Strong

 Many people can only get so strong.

 I have seen it forever.

 A lifter can get strong, strong compared to regular people, like a 350 bench, a 500 squat, 550 deadlift.  But they can't get to the 800 squat, 700 deadlift, 500 bench because they actually get scared. Scared of doing what it takes. It's fucking hard as hell to get that strong. Nosebleeds, ripped muscles, ears ringing, total commitment to it. Walk before you run, but preferably sit. All focus on the task. Until the lifter is ready to say screw how it feels, screw being tired, screw a relationship, it's gonna be damn tough to reach some crazy numbers. Never make excuses, and no missed reps, ever. Ask someone who has been there. It is never a part-time thing, always full-time. 


Strong but not really strong.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

The Most Motivating Powerlifting Video Ever


 

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Just Stuff

 Do you ever get the feeling that you just want to knock somebody out? Things go shitty, really shitty for a while and it builds up and builds up and you want to lash out and who is there to lash out to?  Because everybody has it bad. Whether you are rich or poor, you have it bad. You have it bad because nobody goes through life unscathed. You may be driving a fancy car one day, but the next day, you may get t-boned at a green light and would give anything to be poor but alive.  

I don't have it bad, I know that. I'm not talking about me. Well, it could be, because I have had enough shitty things happen to me, but the whole thing here is that it happens to everydamnbody. I really think , and not to be depressing here, but life is a bunch of crappy moments, unbelievably crappy moments interspersed with a few, amazing, bright incredible moments. That is it. And that blows. But I am glad to be alive. And the death sentence looms over all. 

Started reading Jim Harrison's nonfiction book today, The Search for the Genuine, and its very good. Lots of stuff about hunting and dogs. He makes a few political comments, but back when he wrote it, the political climate was sure different. He can write his ass off, actually. I remember why I didn't want to read him: He talked shit about Hemingway a few times. I get defensive about people that talk bad about my idols. Excellent book.



Also, Christmas is a great time of year. Mostly because its goose season , but also because I had such great Christmas' growing up, courtesy of my parents. We didn't have any money, but they made sure that my sister and I had presents and fun. And it is time for my favorite Christmas movie ever, Christmas Vacation. Classic. I make my family watch it over and over until they absolutely hate it. Christmas Story is great, also. And any Dean Martin Christmas special. Everyone smiling and smoking and drinking and a mess of scantily clad Santa's helper's. C'mon. A Dean Martin Christmas special? The best. Christmas morning is still special, like it gives me a special feeling, like the day is different. The mood is different. We have sausage biscuits and gravy for Christmas breakfast. I love that from when I lived in America, down South. I would kill for a Bojangle's country ham biscuit right now. 

Did anyone see the Army vs Navy game? Hard hitting, and everyone hustles their asses off. I mean, I was impressed. Especially after watching some major college players not hustle AT ALL when they are beat. Something about being scared to be shown up, or make a mistake that may make them look foolish on social media. I hate that, but I guess that they have zero pride. And how about all those guys running out of bounds? Walter Payton must be rolling over in his grave when he sees that happen. Payton would get to the sideline and turn and attack a defender. But whatever. Doesn't matter. Money is too great, and if they get injured, they lose their zillions of dollars and they don't care about how it looks and the coaches don't say shit because if they do, the spoiled brats may not play too hard. Sad. Coaches do not run the show. Everybody knows that.

She began the conversation with a sigh. " I do not know who you are."  "I don't either, " he shrugged and smiled

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Today

I went hunting for ducks this morning with my good friend, Steve.  I love hunting more than anything in the world. I get so excited about it, even after almost 30 years of hunting.  I still feel like a kid on Christmas when I am doing it.  

Steve is a lot busier than I am. I don't do shit, and Steve has a 53-acre farm that he takes care of, he's a pastor of a church, and the dude started his own elementary school, I kid you not. He built a private school for kids whose parents didn't like the public school system. We have been hunting together for 20 years. That's a long damn time. Some of the best memories in my life have been with Steve. Oh, I almost forgot: He's a dog trainer also, and a breeder of badass Labradors, including my own Rebel. He taught me everything that I know about training dogs. And he raised a bunch of kids and stepkids. You see, Steve is one of those guys who do it. He doesn't talk about it, he gets into action and doesn't stop until he's done. I don't know what drives the man. Well, I think it's some type of search for real truth, that's what I feel. And some justice. And like he says, "Who else is gonna do it?"

So, he's really busy and I wait by the phone for his text the night before we are supposed to hunt,  to make sure that we are really going the next morning. After a while, I can't stand the waiting, so I text him, and then my phone buzzes in reply. It is Steve with the particulars on when to meet him the next morning. I feel a rush of excitement go through me and Rebel can tell that I'm happy. He tilts his head at me, and I say to him, "Hunting tomorrow, big boy!"

Now, it is time to get ready. 

The night before we hunt, Rebel follows me around while I walk up and down the steps carrying my hunting stuff from the basement. He walks right at heel and then looks at me when we get upstairs and is like, are we going now? And I say to him we aren't going til the morning, til the morning. But I really love that he does that because it means that he knows that he is going to do something that he loves above all else. Just seeing that excitement in him makes it worthwhile. And the next morning, at 4am,  he follows me outside and back inside over and over while I load the truck and finally he gets on my damn nerves so much that I tell him to "load up" and I put him in the truck. Then we leave in the dark on our way to Maryland and we listen to country music or the Duck Commander podcast on the way and Rebel jumps from the back seat to the front seat to the back. It used to drive me nuts, but now I ignore it and laugh at it. Royal Farms is the next stop for us. I meet Steve there and we got coffee and said our greetings. I hadn't seen Steve in a few months, and it was good to see him.

And then after a short drive, we arrived at a private farm on the beautiful Susquehanna River. We had access to a thousand acres with not one other person on it. Steve and I waded out and with Rebel swimming right beside us, put out some decoys. It was so beautiful, looking at the River with the mist on it and the geese and ducks. It wasn't a day where the action was none stop and the barrels were hot, but it was wonderful. Steve shot one duck and Rebel went out into the water and grabbed it and brought it back to me. You see, different than what most non-hunters think, it's about the experience, not how much game was killed.  

We have always had some deep conversations when we are together, but we also laugh and tell old hunting stories. It's a huge part of what I love about going, talking to a good friend whom you have a lot in common with and who understands you.

After 4 hours, we decided to call it a day. Rebel swam around us again as we brought in the decoys. Steve and I said our goodbyes, gave each other a hug and said we couldn't wait to do it all over again. I  rode out of the place on a dirt road with Rebel in the back seat, still a little wet but so content, and all curled up for the ride home. 

It's magical to me, mornings like that, and I have a deep connection to the water, to my good friend, to my dog, to this whole experience that seems to fill in gaps that are missing in my life. Gaps that you don't even know are there until you feel them fill in. 



Sunday, October 23, 2022

What Are You Saving Yourself For?

 Get to the ball

When I played football in college, everyone had to hustle. On defense, all 11 players had to run to the football no matter where the ball ended up. In practice, you had to run to the person that had the ball, and everyone had to chop their feet as we surrounded the ball carrier until the coach was satisfied and then he would blow the whistle. I can remember a play where I rushed the passer, the pass play was 40 yards downfield, and it was an incompletion and I got yelled at for being late at getting to the ball. 

Now, I watch high school kids, college kids, and of course, professionals. It's very strange how if the play is even a few yards away from a defensive player, if it isn't directly in the person's area, they DONT EVEN TRY to make the tackle. The players literally jog, walk-run to the ball. 

We weren't allowed to walk anywhere, not anywhere on the field. As soon as you crossed the white line, you were running everywhere. 

Now, everybody is too damn cool to hustle. Wow, man, what's wrong with that guy? Not cool to bust your ass, be exhausted, be bloody, and spent. Nah, man, we have to make sure the arm sleeves and the visors and the towel hanging out the back of the pants and all of that bullshit is just right. Make sure to have the multicolored mouthpiece and the gloves that are like stickum and have cute little designs on them. ( If you haven't read "About Three Bricks Shy of a Load" by Roy Blount, get it. It is the inside story of the Steelers in the early 1970s. Now, those guys were men.)   Totally fake and has nothing to do with how you play. Then you walk around and get your ass beat. But damn, you looked so good on the feed. You know all of that is a sign that the apocalypse is upon us, right? All trickling down from me me me society. Players today are so big, so strong, and so fast, but they are not the same as even 10 years ago. Seen the Pro Bowl lately? It's touch football. Don't want to hurt nobody, ok buddy? Watch games from the '70s, '80s, and even the '90s. Players aren't as talented as they are now, but damn, were they some MEN.

My college coaches would see you dog it ONE TIME and you would never get back onto the field or if you did it enough, they would make life so miserable for you that you would quit and they would take your scholarship. OH!  I almost forgot- first you'd have to get up and run at 4am. "four o'clock train" is what we called it. 

It is all about effort, about trying as hard as you can. You only have so many plays in your life, why would you waste any of them?  Nobody wants to try too hard because they may miss or get juked out. OH, YOU BROKE HIS ANKLE, or some stupid shit like that. 

I don't know what the answer is to all those weak ass shit, but I know one thing:

 We need some more DAWWWGS








Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Water, Water

My 15-year-old was asking me about water today, asking, "Dad, what kind of water bottles did you guys have in the ‘70s, and 80's?" Uh, we didn't have water bottles, the plastic ones or the Yeti's or the gym gallon jug (so irritating). I remember when I first saw a plastic water bottle, I said, Nobody will ever buy that shit! I was oh so wrong. And I don't mind people drinking water, water is good. It's the obsession with it, like....like the obsession with sleep! My son is like, I only got 9 hours last night! I'm gonna be small, my testosterone is going down! Meanwhile, all of his friends are up tick-tocking at 4 am and getting up for practice at 7. I don't know how we survived with wolves growling outside the cave and us telling them to shut up so we can get our 8 hours. How the hell did we survive? First off, years ago, nobody brought water up in conversation ever. We would've been like, are we talking about water? Are we talking about practice? And we had hoses. You'd be out riding bikes and you would stop off at a friend's house and turn on the hose and drink from it. Or maybe there was a warm water fountain at the park that you got a drink from. Didn't matter, it was wet. You'd get done playing pick-up basketball at Knollwood Park and your buddy would go into his house and get you a glass of water. Water, water. My doctor wants me to drink 96 ounces of water a day. I'm swimming in water that much. Hell, I ain't even thirsty. I'm forcing myself to drink all this, and my common sense is going, isn't the body smart enough to tell you when it is thirsty? Maybe not, maybe after all these years, the body has become dumb, I don't know. I think I have written about this before, but we had zero water at practice in high school. We chewed ice chips, I shit you not. Nobody said a word. we didn't know any better, I guess. But here is what is strange: Nobody cramped up, nobody got heat-related illnesses, and everybody was just fine. And this is Maryland in August, 100% humidity, 95 degrees outside. Why? I am being serious here. I can think of some reasons but I do not know if they are true 1. We needed that much water all along, we were just oblivious. So are people living longer because of all the water consumed? 2. A) Kids especially, aren't acclimated to the heat, so they dehydrate faster and need more water. B)The heat-related illnesses/ deaths are related to kids sitting inside all the time instead of, again, acclimating and not keeping up with hydration/mineral needs. I see those folks in the morning out walking with like 3 water bottles around a belt. Where are they going, the Mohave? I'd have to stop and piss 10 times with all that water. Oh yeah, I hate water bottles because when we go hunting we see zero trash except for those damn bottles floating by or jammed up at the shore. Sickening. Just drink some filtered water from a steel container, damn. Anyway, that's my rant about water. Drink up!

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Football Life Lessons

 Football is a great sport. I played it from the time I was 9 until I graduated from college. I have heard some say that they learned about life in the weight room, but that is not the case for me. I learned a whole mess of lessons from football. I think that most men learn the biggest life lessons from football, combat sports, or the military. Probably rugby, too, but I don't know shit about it. Those fuckers can hit, though.

Also, it teaches you to respect authority. I know everyone calls their coaches by their first name and shit these days, all buddy-buddy and hugging every time you wipe your ass correctly, but that stuff didn't fly when I was a kid. It was always, COACH, and when he got pissed at you, it was rough. Lots of waking up at 4am to run and up-downs and extra sprints. His word was law, hell, all the coaches' word was law, and I learned a bunch about respecting authority.  I mean, sometimes you wished something bad to happen to your coaches.  They could be pretty tough on a player. But you took it and learned and kept your mouth shut. You know that all that respect stuff doesn't exist today, don't try to lie about it. Kids just do what the hell they want, say all kinds of shit to their coaches like they are on an equal level. Men that coached me smoked Malboro Reds and lined up beer bottles as football players to work on plays. The good ones had a bunch of common characteristics: Patriots, blue-collar workers, tattoos. Some had slicked-back hair like the 50's guys. Some were Marines. I'm sitting here laughing about how manly these guys were. It was so great. My Dad's manly as hell and then I go to football practice and the guys there were real men. I'm not thinking that any of them had a whole bunch of football knowledge, but then again, maybe they did. They taught me how to block and tackle, get in a stance, and all that. That's what I needed. And they cussed a bunch and nobody cared. You'd drive up to practice and the coaches would be leaning on their trucks with their ladders across the top of them and they'd be smoking.  One time, when I was playing 80 or 90-pound football, my coach put a hit out on an opposing player. He didn't like the kid, he had purposefully injured another player. So he designed a play where all of us went after the kid.  That kid was like, what the hell?? Imagine that was done today! On the front page of some liberal mag, "Coach puts hit on player, get's indicted". You know that could happen. 

You learned that you can ignore a whole bunch of stuff, like injuries. People that got injured a lot were looked down upon, it is the truth. If you laid on the ground a bunch on the field, people thought you were a pussy.  I remember this one kid, Donnie, would cry once in a while. We were like 11 years old. I remember looking at him, like crying on the field? Strange. But his family was all messed up, his parents were all messed up with divorce and so we can give him a pass on the crying thing. I guess. If you broke a bone, it was okay. But if you had a pulled muscle or something, you needed to get back in there pretty soon. I remember one time when I was coaching, I had a kid break his thumb and he was lying on the ground. I was like, What's wrong? He says it's my thumb. I say, what's wrong with your legs? He says, nothing. So I say, then stand up. And he goes, Oh yeah, and stands up. Now, coaches tell their players TO LIE ON THE FIELD WHEN THEY ARE HURT. We didn't do that, get your ass up! So it taught you to be tough, basically. And that life isn't fair and people just want to win and things move on without you. I mean, coaches care and all, but you gotta get off the field at some point so practice can continue. And then the season continues with or without you, damn your feelings. There is nobody that worries about your feelings in football.

It taught me how to get along with people. So when I was a kid, all the white folks lived on one side of the railroad tracks, and all the black kids lived on the other side. But we all came together on the football field. Not one problem. I know it's cliche but screw it, damn truth. Football does stuff like that to folks. People don't talk about that very much.

It taught me to be early. You late? get up at 4 and run. You late? The whole team is running because of you. So, you get there 10 minutes early.

There is so much more stuff that I learned from football, but I'm gonna go retrieve with Rebel.  He's begging me. Until next time...


Thursday, April 28, 2022

KIDS

I live in a prison of sorts. My two sons are like the prisoners and I am the warden. They basically try to get away with everything all day long and I try to catch them screwing up. It is a constant daily struggle. It is war. Every day. They lie so easily. Lies just flow out of their little mouths.  Did you take a shower like I told you to? Yes, Mr. Warden. Have any homework? No, no homework,  Mr. Warden. Any sharp objects in your cell? No, Mr. Warden. Did you do your homework? Yes, Mr. Warden. Did you finish it? Yes, Warden. Are you sure? Yes, Mr. Warden. They will swear on everything, too. When I was a kid, if you swore on your Mom and Dad and you "no crossies counted", the person was definitely telling the truth. My sons don't care! They will swear on everything and "no crossies" and still lie!  All lies. On top of lies, on top of more lies. And they do it so effortlessly. Lying to my sons is something that they do and don't think twice about. Who broke the mirror? Not me! Then I ask the other brother. Not me! So, let me get this straight: I was upstairs, you guys were both in the basement where the mirror is, a loud crash was heard where the mirror is placed, and you guys were jumping off of the couch like Jimmy "Superfly Snuka", but neither of you broke the mirror? That's right, Mr.Warden. I should make them wear orange uniforms and pick trash up by the side of the road. 

Dude, I'm 54 and I have a 15-year-old and a 10-year-old. I have zero patience for all the illogical, lying statements. Why are you not in bed? Because you didn't take me to the gym today. HUH? It's like the freaking liberals. It is illogical, and nonsensical, but makes sense to them. My kids make zero sense, they make such zero sense that they make me think that I am wrong and I am crazy. I think they secretly get together just to mess with me. Them and the dog. They have a big meeting and decide to lie and act all innocent and make me think that I am nuts. I am sure of it. Let's really mess with him, lets's go down into the woods without telling him, and not answer him when he calls and let's take his good boots and put them on, the non-waterproof ones, and then let's walk in the creek and then come back to the house, take the boots off and leave them outside and then have the testicles say that they have no idea why the boots are ruined. Even the damn dog is complicit. He gives me that, "I know nothing" look. 

All these parents with kids the age of mine are all young and energetic. I just wanna hunt, lift weights and drink beer.  I am so done. I see the young parents smiling and happy and energetic when I go to pick up my 10-year-old at school. They are in their 30's, mere youngsters! HA! Try my life! I'm in this supermax prison with these out-of-control schemers who are out to get me. Wish me luck.

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a year...it's for life. Whether its training or your family or your job...it doesn't matter. You work at it, you build on it, you see the big picture . You don't miss workouts because it means something to you. You are like a Shakespearean actor- no matter what is going on in your life, you block it out when it's time to train. You walk into the weight room and all else disappears. Worry about it later.