Friday, April 3, 2020

Brandon and the Bees

When I was coaching college football in NAIA Division I years ago during the late 80's and early 90's, and I was the strength coach, defensive line coach, practice and game field supervisor, and laundry technician (I washed the uniforms), there was no separate budget for anything. I never heard the word budget. I guess the head coach just bought some stuff when he wanted it, or if we needed something for the weight room, I guess that I  would beg for a new bar or some dum bells . But I didn't know any better, so I didn't worry about it. It never occurred to me that we should have a strength and conditioning budget.

So, when we wanted something for the players, we had to get imaginative.

I was massively into Muay Thai training for the football players, courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys and Randy White and their amazing strength coach, Dr. Bob Ward. Ward and White came out with a VHS tape called, "Creating Big Plays", that detailed their unique Muay Thai and hand fighting techniques. Problem was, we needed some Thai pads for our players. At that time in America, there were no Thai pads around. Muay Thai was new to this country, MMA wasn't around and the only Thai pads that I ever saw were on the video that Ward and White produced. We could kick the football shields, they were cool, but way too big.  I needed pads small enough for each hand and they needed to be big enough to kick, punch, knee and elbow.

Back then, I had a black Labrador named Dutch. There were a bunch of fields where I took him so that I could work on his retrieving drills for hunting. I rotated places. I had the Broad River when I wanted to take him swimming, I had the fire trails for some straight in the woods training and I had a big high school field with lots of room for all kinds of drills. 

I noticed one day when Dutch and I were at the big high school field working on retrieving that there was a bunch of old football hand shields sort of in a pile on the edge of a wooded area, and they were just the right size for Muay Thai! So, the next day when I went back to the office, I called the head coach at the high school to see if they still used these hand shields or if I could have them to use.  He said, "Sure, Coach, you can have them, but I gotta warn you, there's a bunch of bees back there." 

I was like, "Oh great!" And then I called a few of my defensive linemen. I think it was Brandon and Brewer, both defensive tackles. Told them we had a mission, and we had to get this done. Back then, you could go pick up your players in your truck, hang out with them, get to know them. They were my friends. Yeah, shit has changed. So, I loaded up two of my players and we headed to the field. I explained the situation. I think, looking back, that Brandon volunteered for the job to go in, get the pads and beat the bees out of there. He'd volunteer for anything. He was one tough son of a gun, hunted wild boar with a knife. In fact, he once presented me with a VHS copy of one of his hunts in slow motion where he jumps in there and takes care of the boar. "Country Boy" from Hank Jr. was played over top of it. Badass.

So, he goes into the woods and he grabs the shields and I'm like, "Do you have them? YES! C'MON!" And he's like, "There ain't no bees, Coach!"

And then he goes, "OH SHIT!" and he starts running really fast. I mean, real fast. Herschel Walker would've been like- who is that guy who just ran past me?-Brandon was yelling, BEEEEEEEES!!! and I started running and laughing and he was running and laughing, and he only got stung a few times. He didn’t even complain about it. And we were so excited to get those pads and then he handed them to me (as I was rolling up the window as fast as I could just in case some bees were coming) and the pads looked great on the outside , but they were all rotten on the inside. 

We counted it as mission accomplished, with light injuries. It was worth it because of the mission. And seeing Brandon run so damn fast.

It would be years before I could get a real set of Thai pads.

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a's for life. Whether its training or your family or your 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.