Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Day That Football Died

Side note . . .

I initially posted this, got scared of its possible repercussions, and then took it down.  After sleeping on it, I have decided that although it may anger some people, it is my truth.   And . . .  I have told nothing but my truth. 

So, I am reposting it.

I am putting it out there.

Thanks for reading.

I could instantly tell from hub's face that something was wrong. As he heavily dropped his laptop case from his shoulders, I noticed that his sunburned cheeks did nothing to hide his paleness beneath, and as he opened his mouth to speak, his words would not form.

He closed his mouth silently, looked at the ground, and tried again.

"Life at K's house is bad, Annie. Bad."

It was one simple word, but it spoke volumes between us. I busied my hands by wiping the counter, and asked simply, "How bad Paul?"

He didn't hesitate as he brought his gaze to meet mine. "Bad. Ugly. Just not right."

He slumped onto the couch.

K was one of hub's football players. He wasn't a great athlete, and he wasn't even a great student for that matter. But despite these shortcomings, hubs and I both knew that K was a great kid. K was the kind of kid that never missed a practice even if he knew that he wouldn't start on Friday night. He was the kid that was polite to a fault with "yes ma'ams" and "no ma'ams" rolling from his lips without effort. Despite living in an apartment with his single mom and working extra part time jobs to help out, he was the kid that found reasons to always smile. K was a good kid.

I knew that if hubs was saying it was bad, then it was really and truly bad.

I stopped wiping down the counter and noticed that I had shined one very clean, circular spot while I was thinking about K. I half-heartedly chuckled, rested both hands on my very pregnant belly, and began.

"Well . . . what can we do? " Then I hesitated. I knew what hubs was thinking, but I also knew he didn't know how to ask me. So, I voiced the question for both of us. "Does he need a place to stay? Does he need a safe place?"

Hubs swallowed and answered truthfully, "I don't know, but I am going to talk to him. I am going to let him know that we are on his side.  That he is safe."

That's just the kind of man that hubs is.

He has driven to kid's houses to get them out of bed and to practice, he has counseled kids that were heading down the wrong path, and he has even provided odd jobs for kids, knowing that they wouldn't accept charity when their power had been turned off but knowing that they wouldn't turn away work.

Hubs is a good man.

He is a good man that turned in his football coach resignation yesterday.

No, he did not do it to have more time with us, his family.

No, he did not do anything wrong.

No, he was not forced to resign.

Let me explain . . .

In our small school district, there have always been anonymous rumblings about hubs being able to coach two sports. The anonymous rumblers usually complain, get it out, and move on. This time, apparently, the rumblers moved on, alright. Hubs was told that he was being given a choice about his coaching. He would not go into detail or bad mouth any person, but I know hubs and I can read between the lines.

Hubs was given a choice alright. He could continue to coach both sports knowing that he would not be supported against the rumblers, or he could give up one coaching position.

What a choice!

So, hubs took the high road. He chose to not stoop to the level of the " anonymous rumblers". He chose to give up his football team. He chose to show those boys, his boys, that despite petty, political maneuvering, their coach was still the same old, good man. He chose to be a good example of what it is to be a man of character.

He chose to be a good man.

I couldn't be more proud.

And hub's take? He is saddened, but he is positive. "Annie, I am OK. We will be OK. Nobody died. When we are 87, this will just be a road bump."

But, I disagree.

I think that he is wrong. Something did die.

That little part of me that believed that every person is inherently good?

That little part of me is gone.

********Update******************Thank you to KS who provided me with a little clarity. If I lose the part of me that has the ability to see the good in people, then they win. Since I hate to lose, I will hold on to that part for a while longer. :) ********************************************


  1. Bryan Ellis, coach, teacher, and friendMarch 12, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    I love Paul like a brother although he and I have never said a word to that effect. He is a great man, father, husband, teacher, and friend. Those who do not get to know Paul only see the "rough" exterior of a coach who just happens to be a math teacher. However, I see the other side of Paul. The caring individual who puts everyone else above his own needs, gets 4 hours of sleep on a regular basis because he is planning the perfect lesson for kids or the perfect play on the football or basketball court. Over the 18 years I have worked in our building, I have gotten the privilege of teaching with him and coaching with him on a regular basis. i can say with every beat of my heart that Oakwood did an injustice to the student athletes he touches everyday both on and off the football field. It is a great loss for the football program and it takes a little more faith I had in the good heartedness of people I have also believed as well. In fact, after 18 years I have lost a lot of that faith, but it is due to great people like Paul that I keep trying to do what's best for kids.

  2. Annie, a lovely post today and understandably a difficult one. You were courageous to write it and you both, courageous in your actions. It all comes full circle some day, when you least expect it. Hoorah for taking the high road.

  3. Good for you for posting this. This is what a blog is for.

    And being a football coach in a small town - or any town - has got to be the hardest political position out there. And the not be supported by his superiors? Well then you're left out in the wind, aren't you? I went to a high school in TX - which just won state in football a couple of years ago - and everyone had drunk the crazy water. All I thought was, those poor coaches.

    Your husband sounds like a great guy. This will pass.

  4. what a great tribute to your husband... and sounds like a tremendous loss to a football team in your town.

  5. I'm not a coach, but I am a teacher. I cannot tell you the number of kids I've counseled and hugged (and reported to DHS). There are too many screwed up parents out there screwing up the lives of their kids. K is lucky to have your husband.

    I also know too well the kind of crap some parents/boosters/politically connected assholes can dish out. I work in a small district. The squeaky wheel, who also happens to have the most money, always get the grease! It sucks! Your husband sounds like a wonderful man. He's right to take the high road. Becoming disgruntled and pissy will only validate their actions.

  6. So sad. I don't know why political agendas always find there way into youth athletics. If your husband is a good coach and a good role model for this students let him coach 25 teams- who cares? Who is this about: the student/athletes or the adults in the town? People really need to get their priorities straight.

  7. Your husband sounds like a wonderful man. Wish there were more teachers/coaches like him!

  8. Every teacher knows that it is all about who really is in control... it is the "EPs" (evil parents) Sadly, the kids always get the short end. But the good parents, the ones who thank God for the teachers who love their children, teach respect and responsibility sometimes do not have the time in their busy schedule to have a voice. GP's (good parents) time to be heard.

  9. The older you get the more battles you have to face and the more high roads you have to choose. I have learned that as difficult as it may seem God has a plan and when he closes one door, he opens another. I am proud to have Paul as a son. These bumps in the road are only temporary and you both have great shock absorbers to make the ride a smooth one.

    Love, Dad

  10. I'm so glad you kept the post up. Yes, that's what a blog is for... I'm one of the parents in the same community, and I for one enjoyed that your hubby was the coach of 2 sports. Friday night football is major in our home as well as basketball. I come from a small community up the road - land of the cross-tipped churches!! Football & basketball were our social life!

    I'm saddened that he gave up football. When I first heard I thought it was because he has a young family. I honestly wondered how he could keep up (yes, you're the one who keeps it going:) After my first was born, I secretly forced my hubby out of his golf league. It's tough!

    I'm also sad because one of our very close friend's (near family:) son is a player. Football is his life! Coach Stone is his hero!

    Best wishes, and please know our backyard is always full of fun on Football Friday Night (before/after). We're near the school. Kids everywhere. You'll hear us!! Stop by for a beer!


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