Posts Tagged ‘High School Basketball’

Not Rat.

Not Rat.

The other day I remembered a pretty funny story that occurred years ago during my first stint as coach of the Bearcats. It happened on the way home after a particularly tough loss. As my current and former players will tell you, after a loss I like the bus to be quiet. You know, nobody should be all happy and talkative after a loss, right? Just sit there and think about where we went wrong and try and figure out how to get it fixed.

On this particular night I had a manager that apparently didn’t get the memo because he wouldn’t shut up. I shall call this manager Rat, and although his real nickname was something else entirely.

I change the name because I’m not sure if he could still sue me. You’ll know why in a minute, so settle down. All three of my managers were 6th graders by the way, but back to the story. It’ll get funny in a minute. Hopefully.

So anyway, Rat wouldn’t shut up. The bus is completely dark and I can’t see anything, but I can hear Rat yapping away about 6 or 7 rows behind me. I turn and sort of whisper/yell:

“Rat! Be quiet!”

Dead silence for about 5-minutes, but then he starts in again . . .

“Rat! Be . . . QUIET!”

Silence for about 10-minutes. Then I hear him again, this time with some giggling mixed in.


I then decide it’s time to pay Rat a personal visit. An intervention if you will. I work my way back down the bus aisle until I get to Rat. I know when I get to him because he still babbling away about something. At that point I attempted to give him a little backhanded slap to the chest to get his attention. I know that sounds sort of, uh, inappropriate, but I didn’t intend to hit him hard. Seriously, just a little tap was all I intended.

The problem is that it was dark, Rat was leaning forward, and his face was where his chest was supposed to be. End result? I backhanded Rat smack-dab in the kisser. Just throttled the kid right in the face. Hard. I immediately told him I was sorry, that I didn’t mean to belt him in the face, and then I sort of scurried back to my seat.

At that point my mind immediately started racing. Did anyone know what just happened? Did I leave a mark on Rat? Would Rat rat me out? Was this my last bus ride as a coach? Then I leaned over to my assistant and the following conversation commenced:

Me: “I just slapped Rat.”

Assistant, half asleep: “Cool. Wait. Huh?”

Me: “I just slapped Rat. Right in the face.”

Assistant: “You slapped Rat?”

Me: “I slapped Rat!”

Assistant: “Hard?”

Me: “Walloped him. He might be bleeding from the mouth, nose or both. Dead serious.”

Assistant: “On purpose?”

Me: “Well, no, but I’m not sure that will hold up in a court of law.”

Assistant: “Well, he’s awfully quiet back there now. Maybe he’s fine. Maybe he’s cool with it. I’m sure he knows it was an accident.”

By that point the bus was REALLY quiet, as you might imagine.

And then it began.

It started as a low moan and sort of turned into a plaintive wail. Rat was becoming unglued. Unhinged. Rat was bawling, blubbering, and breaking down like he’d been punched by Mike Tyson in his prime. Which is actually sort of what had just happened.

Good God.

I was done. How to explain this? Just no way to do it and make it sound O.K. Why? Because anyway you spin it I’d just slapped a 6th grader in the face. With that in mind I decided to just go back and apologize to Rat again, explain what happened to his parents if they asked, and hope for the best.

I never knew what happened when Rat went home that night. Did he keep mum to save me? Did he tell Mom and Pops and they were just cool enough not to say anything? Maybe Rat told them and they didn’t believe him? Who knows, but the bottom line is I never heard a word about it from anyone again.

Another lesson learned though. Never attempt to slap a kid in the dark without taking a flashlight with you.

You know I’m kidding, right?


Note: That’s not an actual photo of Rat’s nose after the incident. I left no marks or bruises. Seriously. Rat was fine. Well, physically anyway. Mentally he was probably scarred for life.

Note II: Before I get a comment from some idiot saying “Well, if that was MY kid blah-blah-blah . . .” just know that I’d never hit a kid intentionally. You know, unless they really deserved it.

So, after my first couple years of coaching I was looking for a varsity assistant. I had  a few guys in for interviews, and I’d take them around the facilities showing them the locker rooms, offices and whatnot. One of the applicants was obviously a pretty religious guy because he was peppering me with questions regarding pre-game prayers and such. While I’m not opposed to that sort of thing, it was a little annoying because he kept getting me off-point.

With this in mind, we’re walking through our Field House where all the weightlifting equipment used to be set up. As we’re walking through, the guy asks me what kind of sideline demeanor I exhibited.  Did I berate the officials or yell a lot at the kids? Did I use bad language? At this point I really felt as if he was passing judgement on me. At that very moment we happened to be walking by one of my seniors-to-be, a hard-nosed little defensive specialist who was one of the toughest little SOBs I ever coached. Many of you know who I’m talking about. He was lifting free weights and sweatin’ like a boss. I then, for reasons unbeknownst to me, asked him this question:

“Hey (name withheld), what’s the worst thing I said to you last season?”

I don’t know if I was being stupid or simply didn’t care by asking him that. In retrospect I may have been setting the whole situation up because the wannabe coach was being so sanctimonious. In any case, here was my player’s answer, without missing a beat:

“Well, over at Unioto you called me a gutless pussy.”

For about 5-seconds, crickets.

Oh boy. At that point I did the only thing I could think of, which was move forward:

“If you walk over here I’ll show you our locker facilities . . .”

I think you know how that job opportunity turned out.

Note: Again, it was a different time. Plus, I could have said anything to that kid and he wouldn’t have flinched. So chillax, I’m not going to call your kid a bad name.