Sunday, July 30, 2023

On Being a Graduate Assistant Coach

 I am sitting on the back deck at my house listening to Wade Reeves sing, "Country Out Here," which is a damn good song. It's all about doing country shit, being in your truck, going to a place with your friends to hang out, listen to some Hank Jr., light a fire, that kind of stuff. That is damn fun to do.

Some of my fondest memories are when me and Jimmy and Todd were Graduate Assistants for football at Gardner -Webb University in the old days, 1989-1994. We'd get done with work, of course we already lifted weights and cut the fields ( practice and game), broke down film, coached at practiced and washed the uniforms. 

We would pile into Todd's old Chevy S-10 and head to the State Line Store in South Carolina.  Way out in the country, like the only store on the highway. "Dip" was so fresh down there. It would be a day old. The place where they had the Klan rally had the freshest dip. And the lady behind the counter had like a not so great face but a great ass. At least that's what everyone said. Anyway, the State Line Store was only about 10 minutes away. Where Gardner Webb was located, Boiling Springs, was a dry town, so you had to drive a bit to get beer. Thats ok, it was great flying down the highway, so happy to be done with work and to be together and hanging out. State Line store sold jewels, fishing gear, snacks and beer. I think it sold guns, too. Hell yeah. America.

So we'd get a case of beer. Both Jimmy and Todd made more money than me. I was getting paid 4.25 an hour, and working 80 hours a week and getting paid for 19 hours. How about that? All you spoiled kids out there have no idea of paying dues. Somedays they would splurge and get long neck Bud. That was a treat. Todd was into Rolling Rock for a bit. But usually it was like, IceHouse because it was strong, or Milwaukees Best if times were really bad. 

Damn, we had so much fun.

We would head to the One Lane Bridge which was located in the state game lands on a dirt road. It was a tiny bridge that had a creek flowing underneath it. Sometimes we would go down there and just sit in the back of the truck and drink and talk and listen to music, but if it was summer time, we would bring the beer down to the creek and put it in the water to keep it cold and we would go sit in the water and drink. So much damn fun, there with your friends, catching a buzz, dipping Copenhagen and bitching about how soft some players where.  And bragging about how tough others were. When I look back on those times, there were rarely, if ever any girls around. It wasn't about that at all. I think that most of us had girlfriends or wives but nobody wanted to do the girl thing right then. Hell, we wanted to talk about lifting and football and dogs and guns and hunting. We didn't give a shit about picking up girls or being around them at that time. Just hang out with your boys for hours. 


One time, one of the graduate assistants had a wife who was a little nuts and she left him and he was like, "Man, I don't wanna be by myself tonight. Come over and drink some beers," and I was like, "Cool, I'll come over, no problem. " The wife had taken the kid and gone to her family's house.  We went out and drove out on the dirt roads and talked and spotlighted deer. Just to see them. So, I'm asleep on the couch hours later and the wife comes in and she sees me, the enemy for some reason, and she picks up one of those baby rockers and throws it across the room and is like, WHAT THE FUCK IS HE DOING HERE? Me, just doing a favor for a friend. So my friend pulls me into another room and is like , "You gotta go, but here, take my gun, brother. I don't want to kill her."So I took his gun and left. Plenty of nights such as those. 

All of it was a blast.

The most that I made a month working there was 520.00 a month.  I was the strength coach for football, was in charge of all of the practice and game fields including cutting and painting them and I was the defensive line coach.  The 520.00 paid rent (110.00 was my half), water, phone electricity. I had enough for beer, some pasta, dip and usually a Penthouse magazine. Then I was poor as hell the rest of the month. Like eating-the-4-hot-dog-special-at-the-Pantry-convenience-store-and-sneaking-into-the-cafeteria-poor.

I'm not sure if anybody else would work like we did and get paid so bad and treated so shitty like we did. Hell, I would think that would be illegal these days. But although we bitched a lot, the poverty along with the camaraderie, and lasting friendships make it a great story, and it all adds up together to make up some of my fondest memories. 

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.