The Monthly Lead is a collection of Stories, Articles, Polls, & Interviews from our Sundown United Senior Staff. The Lead, from across America to Korea, spotlights community in all its different shapes and beautiful varieties in a monthly theme that is discussed, debated, and decided amongst our fans and SDU staff. A Lead to inspiration. Welcome to July’s Theme – THE COMEBACK
The unique aroma of freshly cut grass always brings back memories of those hot, dry summer days. A rush of emotions overtakes my body, some exhilarating and others painful, like jumping into the frigid waters of the Frio River during mid-October. The early walk down Meadow Path was always quiet, except for the obnoxious crows crying out their morning calls. My brother and I would sluggishly follow behind our father, making a conscious effort to avoid all the cracks and crevices in the uneven road, deteriorated from years of reckless usage. An unstable bridge at the end of our cul-de-sac cut our route in half, and led us over a thirsty creek bed to the brown grass football fields of John Jay High School.
Dad would hastily part ways with the two of us, fully confident that there would be no need to reprimand us for bad behavior. My brother and I would shuffle our light up tennis-shoes through the adobe colored gravel on the track until we came upon the rusted “Mustang Pride” bleachers, creaking from countless nights of holding screaming fans. Around the fields were a variety of houses, some well-manicured and others neglected. Despite the location of the school’s facilities (including the campus), there was an overwhelming sense of pride within the community, all revolving around a particular sport: football.
The crisp sound of a whistle cutting through the stale, heavy air would pierce spectator’s ears and signal the beginning of practice. Dad’s players would wave as they jogged out onto the fifty yard line, always making a point to call out to the “Little Campbell’s.” My brother and I would gaze in awe at these giant suited up men, not fully comprehending the reason for the brutal contact of smashing helmets, but completely aware of how important this game was.
Drill after drill, these young men would give one-hundred and ten percent of their effort, no matter how much blood was dripping down their jerseys or how much energy had been expended. What struck me, even as a little girl, was how much these boys respected my father.
At the end of the practice, dad would walk us back to our house so we could spend the rest of the day with our mother. He often times would not return until late at night, and I would usually wake up to hear the long stories he would tell my mom about players on the team. The majority came from broken families, some did not have families at all, and there were many who did not even have a place to sleep. He would describe the conversations they would have after practice, and how most of them viewed football as their only ticket out of misery. Even if it would not end up as a career, they were eager to make a name for themselves. Dad devoted his life to coaching football, and I grew up watching it.
He ended up leaving Jay after thirteen years, in order to find better opportunities for our family. We bounced from San Antonio, to Katy, and then finally resided permanently back in San Antonio. My father became the head coach and athletic director of the high school I attended, and we had the pleasure of seeing my brother play football under his watch for four years.
As I grew up, I realized how much of an impact his coaching had on the lives of his young players. I was bitter for how many of my high school events he was unable to attend (even now in college), but I learned to appreciate the fact that he was doing it for a greater cause. Football may be just a sport, but those boys needed something to give them hope.
Dad’s coaching was more than showing them how to lift weights properly, how to run a route, or catch a football. He showed them how to persevere, and instilled a determination to succeed no matter what obstacles are in the way. In doing so, he also taught me to never take for granted all of the things I have been blessed with. I can take satisfaction in knowing my father sacrificed family time in order to give others the hope they needed. Football is not necessarily a part of me, but my father’s love for it became one of my own.
To this day, the smell of freshly cut grass brings me back to Jay’s fields, and floods my memory with those early morning practices.