Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Football Practice - the Summer of '61

We thought - at least I did - that we could have a pretty good football team that fall, our senior year, and jumped at the chance to have a little backyard workout and practice. Official athletic association rules would prevent having any coaches around but that's no problem, we only need a location.

True to his nature, Bill Roberts offered their back yard, although it was realistically just an access to a cow pasture next door. The only problem, a small one for those of us in our athletic prime, was a 3-strand barbed wire fence that marked the lot line.

We all met at Bill's at the appointed hour, but first Bill pulled out his tape recorder, which was no doubt much newer than the one on which he played back the Eisenhower State of the Union address, and we got some taped instruction from Coach Mounts. I don't recall the exact nature of the speech but I'm sure it had a rah-rah nature to it, so we were all primed at the conclusion.

The first step, of course, was to clear the afore-mentioned barbed wire fence, and that turned out to be the LAST step. Some had already gone through the fence by the traditional method of slipping between the strands, when somebody let out a yell. Doug Fallgatter, later to become our starting fullback, had chosen to hurdle the fence - and failed.

It was ugly. Somehow Doug had twisted in mid-air, stuck his foot back under the top wire, and was essentially tangled up in the top two strands. The blood was flowing and the rah-rah attitude was gone. I retain a vivid mental picture of his dancing on one foot, trying to keep his balance while he extracted himself. And it wasn't easy.

I don't recall any further summer practices, and Doug confirmed to me last February that he still bears the scars today. In today's world Mounts probably would have been sued, and certainly there would have been a big uproar about it. For most of us we just felt it best to keep our mouths shut, which we did, and the practice sessions just became a good idea in theory.

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