Friday, June 24, 2011
From as yet unpublished "I Used To Be Stupid"
This is my son Matt’s story, but I am going to steal it. I’ll run it by him for accuracy and might even make some corrections, unless the truth ruins a good story.
Matt graduated from The College of New Jersey in the spring of 1998. In the fall he started a teaching job at Del Val Regional High School which is near Clinton New Jersey. Clinton is in the western part of New Jersey, not far from the Pennsylvania border. It is primarily a farm area, in one of the few parts of New Jersey not defined by a Turnpike or Parkway exit.
Matt is a Physical Education teacher and was an assistant football coach for Del Val. His story is from the football team he coached.
The Del Val football team practiced on a rather rough patch of ground, saving the good field for game day. In the middle of this practice field there was a huge boulder. It was 40 inches wide at ground level; eight inches protruded from the ground and it was Lord only knows how deep. This rock symbolized the toughness of the Del Val football team. They did not practice on a soft turf; they practiced on a rough, hard pan field with a huge boulder in the middle. The boulder became known as Pride Rock.
When the team took the field for practice it became a tradition for each player to run out and touch Pride Rock. This was the tradition for years.
Many a halftime exhortation was delivered by many a coach ending with “let’s get out there and stand as solid and firm and impenetrable as PRIDE ROCK.”
The year Matt became an assistant coach was also the first year for new Head Coach Matt Perotti. Coach Perotti was not as enamored with Pride Rock as were previous Del Val coaches. To him Pride Rock was a nuisance. Every practice play had to be set up around Pride Rock.
“Move it up ten yards. Let’s clear the rock.”
“Move it over five yards. Get away from the rock.”
“Back it up boys, and let’s run it again. I hate that friggin rock.”
After several weeks of lining up plays while trying to avoid the rock, Coach Perotti had enough. The team ran out one October Monday touching Pride Rock as was the tradition and stood in disbelief as they saw the Coach come out with a pick and a shovel.
“What’s up Coach?” They asked in unison.
“That flipping rock has got to go, tradition or not!”
“What? Move Pride Rock? You can’t move Pride Rock.”
“Well I can sure as heck try. That rock is a pain in the butt.”
“But it’s….its PRIDE ROCK. It’s tradition!”
“I’m digging this thing up. Then if you want you can all get together and roll it to the side off the field. You numb-nuts can run out and touch it there if you want, but I’m moving that damn rock if it takes all practice.”
“Good luck Coach. No one has ever been able to move Pride Rock!”
With that warning, Coach Perotti grabbed the pick and stood atop the boulder. He swung the pick up and then down hard just on the outside edge of Pride Rock and into the dirt around it. The pick drove deep into the dirt and slanted against Pride Rock. Coach Perotti put his weight against the pick and pried against the rock. Pride Rock popped out with little effort.
Pride Rock was 40 inches wide at ground level, eight inches protruded from the ground, and it turned out it was two inches deep. Pride Rock weighed about thirty pounds.
“Damn!” The entire team exclaimed as one. “Pride Rock?”
“Lucas, Conord, pick that rock up and throw it in the woods,” the coach ordered. “Everybody else take a lap, we have a game on Saturday.”
That Saturday Del Val broke a three game losing streak with a 24-7 victory. The team was inspired before the game by the Coach’s pregame speech urging the team to move the opposition as easily as they had moved that rock.
As they ran out to the field every player made sure they bent down and touched the PRIED ROCK.
Apparently I’m not the only one who used to be stupid.
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