A spineless body has trouble standing up for anything.

I was a sophomore in high school and going out for the football team. I will never forget the apprehension and excitement I felt as I walked into the room where everyone was going to meet. There was the smell of liniment and sweat, the sound of metal lockers slamming shut, the hiss of showers, and the sight of those gigantic seniors.

The varsity head coach had been a drill instructor in the Marine Corps. He had a thick neck and a crew cut. His voice was graveled from all the shouting he had done. He was a very successful coach.

All of us had been sitting in the room for a few minutes, doing all the things a bunch of nervous adolescents do when they are alone: laughing extra loud, trying to look cool, concealing our terror of the man who was about to walk into the room. In he came, followed by an entourage of assistants, trainers, and managers. He slammed his clipboard down on the table, scowled at all of us, and announced that he was going to talk to us about the "three D's" of winning football: Desire, Dedication, and Discipline.

There was absolute silence as he took each of these words and told us what they must mean to us if we expected to play football on his team. When he got to the last D, he told us what had happened to the team the first year he coached. Football had been a failure up until then. But a number of very talented seniors were on the squad. When they heard his speech about the three D's, he could tell they all thought it a bit amusing, especially the part about discipline. Discipline for him included no late nights during the week and no drinking alcoholic beverages.

The team was three games into the season and undefeated when he learned that all the seniors ...

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Winter 1983: Church Health  | Posted
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