If you read my previous blog about Mort, my teacher, mentor, and football coach, you know that he taught me the importance of standing my ground even in the face of adversity. He also taught me the importance of being a man of my word with individuals and in a group. Mort also taught me the importance of a great work ethic and the fact that great people are built in the face of adversity.
Yet there were still many more lessons that I learned throughout my high school football career. As you may or may not recall from the earlier blog, during my sophomore year of high school, our football team’s season finished 3 – 6. I was on the scout team appropriately named “The Hamburger Squad.” Every week, we would get pummeled by the starters on defense and offense. Being a part of that taught me the importance of “sticking to it” even when times are tough. I also realized that helping others improve often makes you improve as well.
My junior year was more of the same: we finished 3 – 6 again. It was a tough year with little reward. Despite our continual efforts, the losses just piled up. During my senior year of football, we continued to work hard but figured it would be another typical year.
Then . . . much to our surprise, we actually won the first game of the year! We never won the first game of the year. It had always been a heart-breaking loss. During the next game, our team began to meld together as we all realized, “I need to trust my teammates to get their job done.” Our team captains along with some juniors stepped up to lead, and we won our second game of the season.
Our next test was against the 10th ranked team in the state, the Mora Mustangs on their home field. They were dominant! They had won state titles two years in a row and were looking just as tough as ever. I will honestly say that before the game even started, I didn’t think we could win. But the juniors who led the previous game seemed to not understand who we were facing. They were either brave or simply naïve, for they were fearless.
These same juniors had started a new tradition that year. As our team would leave the locker room in two single file lines, one person would shout almost at the top of his lungs, “Nothin’ But!” Then the whole team would shout back in unison, “Torture!” It still gives me goose bumps remembering it! The team chanted this walking ALL the way to the football field:
(On a side note: The word “torture” back then had a lighter meaning than it does today.)
Anyway, since I was on special teams, I was always out on the field before the rest of the team. Therefore, I always got to witness the team walking out on the field. It was an awesome, intimidating sight. Our team chanted this to the 10th ranked team in the state — on their home turf! Did I mention that they had to walk right through the fans of this team? There was no way around them. Cups, candy wrappers, profanity, and other insults were being hurled at our team as they calmly (at least outwardly) walked to the field chanting, “Nothin But . . . Torture!”
It was an awesome sight, a memory I will never forget. It was quite a rush for a 17 year-old young man.
We ended up winning the game 21 – 13 and began to believe in ourselves. We realized that with even more hard work we could accomplish something great. The fans also began to believe it. That year we defeated a team that was ranked #3 in the state and finished the year 9 – 2. Our only two losses were to the state champions twice.
I learned many lessons over my high school years of football that have stayed with me throughout my life. Throughout my senior year in particular, I learned the importance of teamwork and of having a great leader. Every game we played that year had a different hero. I also learned that just because you are older, you may not necessarily be wiser and may not get the glory and credit. Sometimes you need to let others lead. The juniors on our team during my senior year stepped up to lead and did a phenomenal job.
You might be wondering what this has to do with faith in Jesus Christ.
Do you have decisions to make? Or are you going through hard times right now? Then focus on Christ and stick with it. Pray and seek His guidance. Listen to His Holy Spirit and do His will. It may be hard right now, and you may never have peace and comfort in this lifetime. But you need to be okay with that. Do you really believe the Bible or not? If you do, then remember your reward is in Heaven. So live like you believe that!
“Don’t covet your neighbor or friend’s life and stuff. That is a sin! Instead, do the will of your Father who is in Heaven.”
For Further Reading:
I Corinthians 13
Haggai 1 (focusing on verses 5–7)