When I first met Coach Ramirez, I didn’t think much of him. He was thin, short, and dark skinned. The school had not won more than one game a year during his tenure. He seemed to not care about the student athletes or winning.
But soon after football season began, he discovered I didn’t live within the school district. I had left home before eighth grade started and was living at a friend’s home but registered at Bowie Junior High School with a fake address. The rules stated I should have been expelled for such actions but Coach Ramirez told me I could stay with the team but could not play in any games and he would not tell the school about my situation.
At first I was angry. Football was very important to me then and I wanted to play badly. I felt he was being too harsh with me. What did it matter where I lived if all I wanted was to go to school and play football? So two weeks later I changed my address with the school board, giving them another fake one. I told Coach Ramirez I had moved and wanted to be allowed to play again . He looked at the address, looked at me and just smiled. He said I could play. I felt ecstatic and thought I’d gotten away with something. I didn’t let Coach Ramirez take my dreams away.
What I didn’t understand then was the generosity and understanding he showed. He could’ve had me kicked off the team, expelled even reported me to the authorities and child protective services which probably would have been the ‘right’ thing to do. Instead, he let me stay on the team understanding how important that was to me especially under my circumstances. He did not report me to the school or authorities and he knew I was lying when I presented my new address. He let me back on the team with my lies and allowed me to be like the other kids, like my friends. For that I thank you Coach Ramirez.