Trouble in the Huddle

Posted: March 8, 2017 in Childhood Memories, Humor, Sports

Back when I played high school basketball I had a coach that I dearly loved. No, he wasn’t my high school coach, but an assistant. He was always there for me, counseling and giving advice when I needed it.

And God, did I need it.

Anyway, he was the guy who I knew always believed in me, saw the best in me, and I’ll never forget it. He never let me down. However, there was one time I let him down, although I didn’t know it at the time. Here’s the dizzle . . .

It was just before a game, and we’d finished our pregame warmups. We all went to the huddle to listen to our head coach’s final instructions, and it was then I smelled trouble.

And when I say smelled, I literally mean smelled.

Because in that huddle, I distinctly caught the smell of alcohol. Listen, I was no angel when I played high school basketball. Not even close. But at the time, I was pissed that one of my teammates had been doing some pregame drinking. It was a big game and I was upset that somebody hadn’t been taking the moment with the seriousness it deserved. How dare they? I proceeded to let everyone on the team know how disappointed I was in their behavior, their attitude, and their general disregard for commitment to our team.

Anyway, we went on to lose the game and I never did find out who had let me down that day, the guy who had downed a couple pregame totties, the player who had spat in the face of sportsmanship and all that was sacred to high school athletics.

That is, until later.

Because a few years on I ran into my old assistant coach, the man I admired and had moved on to another school somewhere in northern Ohio. Here’s the conversation that transpired:

“Shoe, do you remember when you tore into the team that night after you smelled alcohol on somebody?”

“Uh, yes. I was pissed. I couldn’t believe somebody could be so damn dumb.”

“Well, that somebody was me. I’d had a couple drinks before the game that day. You just about sold me out, man.”

Uh-oh. Well, hell. Little did I know the guy I looked up to more than anyone on the court was the guy who’d tipped a couple back pegame.

Hey, was he right to do that? No, he was not. But it was a different time. Hell, we also had a high school administrator that kept a bottle of whiskey in a desk drawer.

In retrospect I shouldn’t have been so self-righteous, handled it another way, and kept my mouth shut.

Alas, I did not, and in the process I almost outed my favorite coach.



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