Coach Patterson was not your typical, drop and give me twenty, high school coach and the basis of my story is not how he inspired me to a seven digit salary in pro football. Those guys are busy at home polishing their Super Bowl rings and Heisman Trophies. What Coach Patterson dropped were lots of one-liners and cracks to encourage our bunch of frazzled, uptight, overly self-conscious teenagers to relax a little and not take ourselves so very seriously, as we were prone to do.
A former third baseman for the Expos, I’m sure he would have enjoyed leading us to a CIF championship but, since we, frankly, were not of that collective caliber, he would pretend to organize a class field trip to see “The Blue Lagoon,” which, although very tame by today’s standards, was thought very taboo in that, more innocent, era. On the naïve side, I was already forging my permission slip before someone informed me the whole thing was a ruse.
In an environment where your teachers were generally on the cold side and emotional unavailable, I’m very thankful to have had at least one who could joke around with us and make us feel at ease, kind of like a father figure when the mother isn’t looking sort of thing. It wasn’t as if he was too lax or didn’t take his job seriously; he did all of the things expected of him and did them well. Rather, although we were unaware, he would notice things like the way I looked at the cute blond girl in the next row over and make sure we were paired together when the time came for coed participation. It never really did pan out and produce the cute couple he intended, but thanks, Coach Patterson, for noticing, for caring and making life a little more bearable for a lot of clueless and confused teenagers.