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Archive for May 19th, 2010

Ready For Some Football – Part Two

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

***

I actually tried to hunch down and hide, but everyone was staring at us. I finally stood, and with shaky knees, followed John down the rickety bleachers. Our steps echoed through the gym.

We had told a few friends what we did and they were nice enough to encourage us by whispering, “You’re dead,” as we went by.

“Stand there.” Coach Martino pointed to the center of the gym.

We did. The three other coaches stood behind us with their arms folded behind their backs, legs wide, military style.

Martino addressed the class. “What you see here, gentlemen, is two quitters.”

Whoa, talk about a knee to the stomach. Coach ambushed us!

“They’re not only quitting the team . . .” Martino paused, letting the words hover over the players’ heads like a chunk of bacon dangling over a pack of pit bulls. “They’re quitting YOU.”

I couldn’t believe this. He was painting a bulls-eye on our chests.

I scanned the bleachers now in front, and above me. My soon-to-be former teammates scowled as if coach had just told them John and I had kissed every one of their girlfriends.

I glanced at John to the left of me.

Oh crap!

He was easing his right foot forward and twitching his fingers—the way he always does before he spars.

I was about to vomit. John’s preparing to fight the entire football team who has—now that we’re gone—a minimum weight class of 195 pounds, and I have to back him up.

“So,” Coach continued, “after this class, they’re no longer a member of this family.” Coach sneered at us then blew his whistle. “Fall in for laps.”

The gym floor vibrated from the sixty-plus players trudging down the bleachers.

No one talked to us as we filed from the gym onto the field.

None of this I could figure out. We were not good football players. What is the deal?

John and I ran the five laps in silence, constantly checking over our shoulders. Some of the guys were cool, most indifferent, but a few were jerks.

My kung fu Spidey-sense told me that we were going to have some trouble in the locker room.

We finished the run, played catch, then jogged back inside.

I didn’t even make it to my locker before the fight began.

Two dudes behind me grabbed my arms and ran me into the wall of lockers. I managed to twist my head so my nose wouldn’t take the blow. I couldn’t see John. His locker was around the corner from mine. But I did hear lots of shouting and locker-banging.

Two big hands dug into my shoulders and spun me around. I locked eyes with my two assailants. They were two guys I’d never liked. This had nothing to do with quitting. They just wanted an excuse to fight.

I lifted my hands and shifted into a fighting stance.

The two morons had their shirts off and their fists circling in front of them. Two more idiots stood behind them, shouting, “Get him.”

“Take this karate boy,” the closest one said as he punched.

How many times do I have to tell these imbeciles, I do kung fu, not karate?

I ducked. His fist plowed into the lockers. I came up with a snap kick to his groin then blocked a punch from bozo number two. As he pulled back for a second blow, I nailed him in the jaw with a right hook. I was able to kick him in the stomach before the other two tackled me.

We rolled on the filthy floor, fists flying everywhere. My head hit the concrete floor as fists pounded my face. The coppery taste of blood filled my mouth.

The locker room was a bloodthirsty frenzy with everyone shouting and clapping.

We kept rolling until we hit a bench. I looked up. A forest of legs surrounded me. I caught a glimpse of someone’s backpack sitting on the bench. Somehow, I was able to tuck in my legs and kick the guys off me.

With blood dripping from my swollen lips, I sprang to my feet, grabbed the backpack, and went to swinging. I clobbered two more before someone shouted, “Coach is coming!” Everyone scattered.

I whirled around to face the two dudes that had first pushed me. They had their fists cocked but neither looked too eager to move first. The one I’d kicked in the stomach had my Nike shoe print on his gut.

I stepped forward. I still held the backpack, ready to pile drive their fatheads into the lockers.

Coach came in and broke it up. The two guys left, talking trash. I waited until they were out of sight before I dropped the backpack.

I still didn’t know where John was until he walked around the corner. Aside from some bloodstains on his gray gym shirt, he looked normal, like another day at the office. Behind him, three boys came limping out, holding their stomachs. Their faces were swollen and bruised.

“Hope you girls enjoyed your last day of athletics.” Martino shook his head and walked off.

I washed up and we headed to the office to change our schedule.

Football or kung fu?

Looking back now, I think John and I made the right choice.