Just like it was yesterday
By Joe Black | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
There are a whole lot of high school football players around here that played football for the last time in their lives within the last couple of months.
There are a few of those seniors that might have the opportunity to play in college but the vast majority have played their last games. Ever. And that’s OK.
For some, their season was cut short by an injury. We seemed to have several of those this year. It seems particularly tragic when it is the senior year.
Everybody dreams of going out with a stellar senior year. For most little boys that want to play football, a great senior year is the crowning glory to a career that they literally dream about.
I can remember mine. For most of the 40 years since, I could tell you scores and plays and details at a level that was nothing short of amazing, if I do say so myself. Can’t do that so much anymore, but I can tell you who won each and every game.
We lost three times that year after going undefeated and winning the state championship the year before. Those losses were an upset win to Dayton (which later became Rhea County), Cleveland, and eventual state champion Maryville.
Yeah, Maryville. It seems somehow ironic or maybe even fitting that I’ve spent almost my entire adult life living in Maryville, considering that Loudon-Maryville was this huge football rivalry that I got to be a part of.
I knew all the players on that Maryville team because coaching at Loudon was Gary Dutton, who had coached that bunch of seniors when they were at Maryville Junior High. I could go to the line of scrimmage and call them out by name. Jim Allison, Johnny and Joe Emert, Tommy Beaver. I’d like to think it was a little disconcerting when I called them by name.
I can tell you that we were leading 28-21 late in the game until a punt return by MHS for a touchdown to tie it and then a score with less than a minute won it for Maryville, 35-28.
In my many years in Maryville since, I have met many of those players and count a goodly number as friends. It’s probably helped that MHS won the game.
Memories are the fabric that helps us understand who we are, not just where we’ve been. I don’t believe in living in the past but the past is still the foundation on which we build our lives.
For underclassmen, the next season has already started. Workouts have already started. Bigger. Stronger. Faster. New dreams for next year’s seniors.
For those whose season ended early due to injuries, they are hard at work in rehab and it is one of the great pleasures of my professions that I get to follow them all the way back to the playing field.
Enjoy it all. You are building memories every day. When I see J.L. Millsaps or Lonnie Hawkins, we can see and feel those times — practices, workouts, and games — like they were yesterday.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to him at (email@example.com)