My freshman year in high school, I decided to play football. I had never played before and as a little guy, I didn’t know how it would turn out, but I loved watching the game on TV and really wanted to give it a try. I had played other sports, a lot of soccer and softball every summer at camp. I also ran track and was on the wrestling team and enjoyed physical training and competition.
I was lucky enough to have a great coach, a coach who encouraged me to work hard and participate and then put me in key games to be able to test and prove myself. Coach Dinkins was a great guy who taught me a lot, on and off the field, as he was also my math teacher.
I really liked the game and I was able to get into a very aggressive mindset and really kick some butt. I studied and practiced technique so I was able to use my speed and leg strength to really give some hits. I started playing safety and my speed and ability to read plays really came in handy.
The funny thing I remember most is during punts, when the safety could actually catch the ball and run with it, I would secretly hope the punt was bad or went to the other guy, as I loved tackling and playing defense, but did not want to be a 120 pound guy with the ball on the field with 300 pound guys trying to chase me and tackle me.
Coach Dinkins worked with me to improve my technique and also on learning about strategy and reading what the other team was doing and also what they may do in the future. He always compared it to a chess game and that analogy always stayed with me. November, Thanksgiving and the fall time of year always takes me back to high school and my memories of playing for Coach Dinkins.