Thursday, December 08, 2005

My Life Story: High school (freshman year)

This is a contiuation of the following past blogs:

Life Story: Age 1-10

Life Story: Age 10-14

One thing I find funny is that the closer I get to my age (in my writing) the longer each age/memory becomes. I guess it's natural that my memory would be better as I get closer to my age.

Freshman year (age 14-15). So summer camp ended and the actual FB season started. I didn't have a clue what I was doing, but I was having fun just being a part of the team. I felt important and I felt tough. I played offensive line, but I was small for a typical lineman. Most lineman in high school are over 220 lbs. I was 175 lbs. Almost everyone on our team was smaller though. We didn't have any big kids at all, so I was still above average in size compared to everyone else, which gave me some confidence.

It was in high school and in football where I made a lot of great friends. I was a back-up in football and I really did suck. I was still oafy and un-coordinated, but I worked hard. I played on some special teams and usually got in at the end of the game when we were usually getting our butts kicked.

Freshman year was a confusing time for me (as was most of high school). I was still trying to figure it all out. I remember meeting with a guidance councelor before the school year started. For starters, I had no idea what a guidance councelor was. Second, when he asked me what I wanted to do for a living, I told him I wanted to be a professional football player. I remember the guy kind of looking at me like "are you serious", then he gave me the stats on who actually makes it and told me it would be best to have a back-up plan. I told him fire fighter or police officer.

Anyway, I never did end up in those fields of work (although being a fire fighter would be cool, but I don't like the hours). I got through the year taking the lowest of low classes (math A and Math B, which were a more drawn-out version of Algebra 1 at a slower pace). When I realized that the colleges and the NFL were not going to be in need of a 200 lbs max offensive lineman, I started to think about what I wanted to do. Since I idolized my dad, I figured I would just work with/for him forever.

I spent time working for my dads sweeping and landscaping business any any nights I didn't have games (usually saturday nights). It was hard/dirty work, but I enjoyed having a way to earn money in high school other than flipping burgers like most everyone else seemed to do. I was always upset at my schoolmates that had their parents do everything for them. I began to create a sense of pride in "forging my own way" in some respects (even though my parents were my employers, I still earned every bit of money I had to buy my own clothes, entertainment, etc.)

I finally started to talk to girls a little bit. I had always weighed in on having the guts to just talk to a girl, but it always ended in me in a nervous wreck and never getting with in five feet of her before I'd turn around. My friend Nick instilled some confidence in me a bit, but we didn't hang out in ninth grade as much as we did in eighth grade. I gained some additional friends from football. Still, Nick was always good at talking to the ladies, so I'd usually hang out with him and by default, end up talking to a girl or two. It made me feel good. I wanted a girlfriend badly though because it seemed everyone had one and it was the "thing to do". I recall it would be cool to have a girlfriend that I would sit in the hall with and be hugging, then when the bell rings, we suck face for about two minutes before we head off to class, as if I was heading off to war and we would never see each other again (when in reality you would see each other 45 minutes later and repeat the same routine of sucking face before heading off to war).

Like I said, football was cool because I met some great friends playing it. I'll never forget guys my freshman year like Derek Baumer, Eron Bennett, and Stuart Amerhein (even though Stuart ended up playing JV that year). I was a back-up to Baumer. The dude was a stud and by our Sr year was our team captain and could have played college ball (more on that later). Baumer was the nicest, most humble guy I knew. He didn't care if he had friends, didn't care to impress others, just worked hard at school and sports, and liked to laugh at things occasionally. I respected him immensly for that. I was also his back-up that year, so I learned a lot from watching him play. I remember my only significant playing time came in our last game of the season against our rival (ElDorado) and Derek didn't show up to the game because he was sick. Our coach looked at me and hesitantly said "you're starting". I was so excited and felt I was ready. I think I did OK, but we still lost (it was like 27-18, no worries though because by our Sr year we beat them 40-0). Anyway, that was pretty much the highlight of my frosh year :-).

I spent much of the year (once football was over), going to see movies (it seemed the only cool place to hang out) or riding my bike around town. I'd waste a lot of time watching TV at home too.

I had a good summer after my frosh year. I worked at the gas station some more (although it was less freqent because of other responsibilities with football). I also worked for my parents quite a bit earning money. I swam a lot at a pool we had a membership to, I went to football camp (it ran three days a week during June and July). I started to gain more confidence in my skills as a football player. Derek Baumer was called up to play varsity, so I knew this was my chance to step it up and prove I could start in his spot as a Sophmore. I ran with the first team unit all summer and started playing linebacker as well. Our head coach for the coming year was Chick Bist (a good friend of mine now). I'll explain more about him when I talk about my Sophmore year. Anyway, he approached me toward the end of camp and asked if I had to start at one position (OL or LB), which one would it be. I chose LB, so I was starting there. I was playing a "skill" position (for my standards) so I was pretty stoked and felt I had come a long way.

Next up: Sophmore year.....

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