Jesus man, I feel like I’m gonna puke. This is bullshit…
C’mon man, don’t quit. The coaches are all watching.
Football? I never wanted to play football. I’ll be honest, I was a softball kid. I loved the game because it was so easy. It started with tee ball, then five-pitch…but then I had to quit. Going to school downtown consumed my very being because of the time I spent trekking to school everyday.
Hey rookie, you’ll never make the team if you quit that easily.
I didn’t get it. What drove those muscle-bound idiots? What drove them to put their bodies through the rigorous training each and every single day of this stupid camp? I only joined this camp because I had nothing else to do. I was sitting at home every day, playing video games and drinking many many cans of Coca-Cola each and every day. I was getting bigger by the minute and a friend had suggested that I try playing football.
Welcome to training camp for the Majors, boys. Your positions can be determined as we go unless you guys feel like trying out for specific spots. I will have you know that we are very talented in terms of depth, so your best shot is to show us what you’ve got and allow us to place you accordingly. By the way, I am the head coach. My name is Charles Martz. These here are my assistant coaches. This burly man to my right is my offensive coordinator, John Ventura and the tall gentleman to my left is my defensive coordinator, Ken Deschapelle. We’ll be running with a compound set of tests first. The standard 40-yard dash, 10-yard split, 20-yard split, 20-yard shuttle and the 3 cone drill. We’ll also be measuring your vertical jumps and your standard broad jumps. Finally, we’ll be looking at your maximum strength output through your rep max on the flat bench and power clean. Simple stuff. All guys that are 6″0 and under, line up on the left side with coach Ventura. All others that are 6″2 and above, line up on the right side with coach Deschappelle. Once you have finished with the defensive or offensive drills, you’ll switch sides.
I looked around the room and had no clue what to do or think. I didn’t even know what I had gotten myself into. I was scared purely because I knew nothing about anything that the head coach had just spit out. The only thing I’d ever heard of was the 40-yard dash. Since I stood at 5″4, I lined up on the left side.
…Here goes nothing.
5″5ish and 179 pounds? Seriously? He’s a shrimp, he hasn’t got a chance.
Some girl was ragging on me? Because I was the smallest guy at this stupid camp. I didn’t even want to make the team anymore. Who the hell was this girl anyway? What in the hell is a girl doing at a football camp? I turned around and saw her. She was standing by coach Ventura…I think. There were far too many guys around for me to be remembering names. They all came in different shapes and sizes…and different hair colours too. One guy had red hair, another had purple hair…what kind of guys play football?
Honey, I appreciate you being here and trying to help with the recruiting process, but it’s time for the coaches to take over.
Dad, you say that like I don’t know anything about football! What are his stats anyhow?
He ran the 40-yard dash in 6.03 seconds. 10-yard split was 2 seconds on the dot. 20-yard split was 4.12 seconds. 20-yard shuttle was…5.2 seconds. 3 cone drills was 8.9 seconds. His vert measures at 33 inches and his broad jump finished at 8 feet, 6 inches. His rep max on the flats at 350 pounds was no more than 2. All in all…he’s got some pretty ridiculous speed and strength in his legs for somebody that hasn’t ever played football.
Let me clarify this again, I did not want to play football.
But that girl next to the coach was pretty cute.
Hey, snap out of it.
I found myself staring at the hospital wall. Memories are great and all, but sometimes they’re pretty annoying. Marshall was snapping his fingers at me. I didn’t take too kindly to that seeing as we had just met.
Look, I don’t know what’s on your mind, but you need to be here right now. This was all pretty much your fault, sooooo wake the hell up!
You ever think about how we met? It’s kinda weird, don’t you think?
Yeah, it really is, haha.
You know how everybody has that nervous laugh that they pull off whenever their brain tells them that it’s necessary? Well, I was always doing my stupid nervous laugh in front of her. You see, I really liked this girl. But I couldn’t do anything about it…I mean, she is the daughter of one of my coaches.
I still have that stupid scar from the stitches I needed. Thanks for those, jerk!
We’re running full-speed scrimmages right now. Congratulations to those of you that made the first cut. Time to see what you guys are made of.
I was seriously wondering what in the hell I had gotten myself into.
Hey you, #32! Line up with the secondary, they’re taking the field now.
I let out a huge sigh and put the helmet on. How in the world do people move with all this padding on? I felt like a medieval knight what with a pair of shoulder pads on, a helmet, a back pad, thigh pads, knee pads, a jock strap and a flak jacket on…
I got to the huddle and was assigned by some short guy with the name Marquez on the back of his helmet to line up at safety…whatever that meant.
Look, your only responsibility is to hit people. If you see a guy with the ball in this zone, you’re hitting the shit out of him. Got it, rookie?
I nodded and he clapped to break the huddle. Off to the side, there were some cheerleaders. I thought I saw that same girl from tryouts with the rest of them, but I wasn’t too sure.
The ball was snapped and my only buddy, Marshall Morris, was playing quarterback. He moved backward and I could hear Marquez screaming out for adjustments…I still didn’t know what to do. Marshall scanned the field from left to right and faked a throw.
HEY, #32! WATCH OUT FOR #13! IT’S A CROSS ROUTE!
Of course. I would be given some sort of responsibility the first time I played the game. I turned my attention from the sideline and my coaches back to the field. My eyes locked onto the big navy blue 13 on the field. He was far ahead of his defender and I decided to try and stop him.
Marshall cocked his right arm back and shot the football forward like a slingshot. It had some speed for sure because that thing traveled quite a distance in a very short amount of time. #13 faked out his own QB…and all I had to do was either catch the ball or hit #13.
Y’know, I was beginning to become more and more startled at how much yelling was involved in football. I followed the orders that were being barked out…I couldn’t even tell who was yelling it all anymore.
This can’t be so bad…just start running. Think of Juggernaut from X-Men. Yeah, that’ll work…
I ran for #13 and when I was close enough, I lowered my shoulder. The poor guy didn’t even know I was coming because his head was still turned in the other direction, waiting for the ball to reach him. My shoulder made contact with his chest and my arms were wrapped around him. There was a very audible grunt and gasp that came from him when we both hit the turf. I felt so powerful and so cocky. I got up and stood over his body. I was screaming like a madman too…I didn’t think football could get somebody so amped.
Hey guys, she’s gonna be okay. Just sit tight and give her time to spend with her family. You’ll all be able to visit her soon, okay?
Marshall thanked the doctor and sat next to me again.
Guess that’ll be the last time you’re allowed to cover a sideline, huh Turbo?
He slapped my shoulder twice and laughed to himself. Oh, he thought he was hilarious. Before I could say anything, the doctor had come back.
The patient would like to see the person that she referred to as…turbo_____?
Oh boy, here we go.
I was so gassed after that play that the coaches left me on the field for the next set of reps. I was hitting guys and making stops whenever our “secondary” needed it. It was great, I was actually getting the hang of football!
Marshall took the snap and scanned the field again. He saw #13 wide open in my zone, so he threw it. He ran for the sidelines.
Sweet, I’ve got him.
I began running for him with a head full of steam. I dipped my shoulder again as I closed in on him. As I dove, he stopped running and I went flying toward the sideline…and the cheerleaders. I couldn’t see, but I knew that my helmet had met something hard…it didn’t feel like a stomach or an arm. It felt like a bone.
What the hell, is that blood? Holy shit, that’s coming from her head!
All the cheerleaders managed to move out of the way except for one. Of course. Coach Deschappelle came running over and boy, was he ticked.
What the hell are you doing trying to tackle somebody running down the sidelines!? You’re supposed to push them out of bounds, not tackle! Instead, you wound up missing your assignment and letting them score a touchdown! And to boot, you hit one of the cheerleaders!
Coach Ventura came running over too. But he wasn’t there to scold me, he picked up the downed cheerleader in his arms and the medical staff was right behind him.
Hey, how are you feeling?
Well, my forehead’s been cracked open, so it’s safe to say I have a splitting headache right now.
I let out my nervous laugh and felt like an idiot. She was pretty. Really pretty. Even though she looked like Frankenstein’s monster with the stitches in her forehead, she was really pretty.
So, how ticked off is my dad? You gonna make the team?
I don’t know, he hasn’t spoken a word to me since the hit. Practice got cancelled from there, so I came straight here.
Wow, you guys actually cancelled a practice on account of me bleeding to death on the sideline? That never happens.
Look, I’m really sorry. I wasn’t thinking and I was having loads of fun just hitting guys…
You’re new, I know. You’re a decent player considering that you’ve never played organized football before any of this.
Thanks…I just feel really bad about your head is all.
Well, if I wind up getting a nasty scar from this, you owe me.
I laughed for real that time. She looked kinda ridiculous with the stitches and all. I was hoping that there wouldn’t be a scar left on her forehead because it would always remind me that it was me who left that mark on her.
Hey, I don’t think I ever got your name. I’m Roland.
I extended my right hand to her in what felt like the longest pause in my life. She looked at me and I could tell that she was a bit confused.
I’m Annie. Well, Anne. My dad and friends call me Annie though.
She shook my hand and smirked.
What’s with the smile?
You know it was my dad and coach Martz that coined your nickname after tryouts, right?
Turbo_____? You haven’t noticed that people have been calling you that?
Well, I did…I just didn’t know why.
You’ll find out sooner or later. I think I’ll be seeing you around a bit more.
Yeah, I guess so.
Little did I know, that was the first time I’d actually spoken to the girl that would drive me crazy for the next two years.