Friday, July 30, 2010

When Not Losing Is Still a Loss

We won our first football game of our senior season, hosting St Ansgar and establishing the norm that we will always miss at least one extra point. So we were pretty pumped going into the second week, another home game, this time against Forest City, optimistic about a good season ahead.

A party had been planned following the game, I think at Ann Bergen's house, and somehow Coach Mounts, who had a nose for these things, seemed to know about it. We were sitting on the bus before the game and Mounts was giving us the pre-game hype about the importance of winning, and said if we lost the game we better not be thinking about any parties afterwards.

Well, we didn't lose, we tied. 13-13. Another missed extra point. So the discussion after the game was short and sweet, to the point of "Hey, we didn't lose, did we?" And we headed off to the party, most of us probably still wondering what fate would befall us for our own interpretation of "lose - not lose". I think the party ended early, at least for me, because that was on my mind.

By Monday morning I had pretty much put it aside but I think I got an inkling from some teammates when I was about to hang up my letterjacket that Mounts was on the warpath. And sure enough, it was about that quickly that he showed up right there by the study hall where we hung our jackets and talked smart before the day started. He grabbed me by the shirt, got right in my face, and started talking about my lack of integrity and leadership. I was co-captain with Phil Johnson but that was ending right then and there, that since we didn't win that game, we "lost" that game, I was no longer deserving of being captain and like everybody else who attended the party, would have to pay the consequences.

Monday nights were usually a light practice because the fresh-soph team had a game and the coaches had to take care of that, but not this Monday night. We did all kinds of calisthenics and ran more than I think I ever had in my life, but so be it. We were paying the price.

I believe it was Wednesday night when we finally had "the speech." Phil was now the lone captain and he was leading calisthenics - until we were flat down on the ground and Mounts took over. It was the kind of speech you'd expect about commitment and integrity (my word, not his), and of course nobody but him said a word. Then he started walking towards somebody laying in the front row, and I don't recall if it was Mike Lien or Larry Holstad, but when he got there, he kicked him in the helmet. I cringed. Then he went over to the other of those two, and kicked him in the helmet, too. I cringed again - and quietly hoped that he was done kicking.

But he wasn't. He headed directly towards me and I thought, "Oh, Lord, help me!" The whole time he was talking, angrily, until "whammo" - I got it in the helmet. And I thought, "Sheesh, that wasn't that bad!" And it wasn't.

So he finally got over his speechifying, we stood up, were made whole and part of the team again, I was told to join Phil in the captain's role again, and all was forgiven. For now. But you just knew we had to win that Friday night at Buffalo Center.

Sure enough, the first half at Buffalo ended 6 - 6. ANOTHER missed point. At halftime we were on the bus getting verbally abused again, because obviously we did not have the commitment to be a good ball club. The good news was the second half turned out to be a lot better. We won 38-6, which means we scored 5 touchdowns (and only two extra points) in the second half to win the game.

NOW we had earned a party, but we never won at home again that season, unfortunately, and it just wasn't real practical to have a party after a road game. And if you're wondering why I never won that Nobel Prize for discoveries in chemistry or higher mathematics, now you know - it's because of that night I got kicked in the head.


  1. What a great story on Buddy Mounts! I was not on the football team, but somehow I seem to remember that Buddy broke Mike Lien's finger or hand after Mike had tried to protect his hindend from a swift kick by Coach Mounts.

    Every Monday Buddy let me out of government class, so that I could go mark the football field for the fresh-soph game for him. I guess the reason I never ran for public office was because of a deficit in government education - ha!

  2. I really don't know how he could get by being so mean. He wouldn't get by with it now. Is the "brute" still alive?

  3. Yes, Marilyn, he's alive (see Larry Holstad's report posted today) and doing well - just like Santa Claus does exist!

  4. Great story. Amazing, every whipping I ever received was duly earned and I knew it was just as hard on my Dad giving me the spanking or swat with the willow whip...I saw the hurt in his eyes. When I grew up he said all he had to do was look at me and I would start to cry. I only remember getting a spanking time and the "willow whip" once...we had to pick our own and they could not be thick ones! All three of us Vold girls had ventured down to the sandpit - an absolute no no! We knew ahead of time the punishment was the willow whip.

  5. I never saw any hurt in Buddy's eyes. I did see fire there from time to time, however. The Monday morning referenced in this story was one of those times. You've heard of "fire and ice"? Fire in his eyes and melted ice being spit out of his mouth.


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