Bang, bang, bang.
“Get up yo, time for workouts. I’m leaving.”
I roll over and act like I don’t hear Tucker knocking at my door. He says “Oh well.” and the door closes. I’m tired’ probably from going to bed at 2:30 a.m. but man, I had to beat Steve in Madden!
Tucker is gone, so I go back to sleep.
20 minutes later (although it feels like 20 seconds), I wake up to my phone buzzing. My position coach is on the line.
“What’s up coach?” I greet.
“Your ass is supposed to be here. We got workouts in 10 minutes!”
“Coach, Tucker was supposed to take me. He never woke me up — he’s my ride.”
“Find a way to get here. Don’t be late!” Click. Coach hangs up the phone.
I jump out of bed and wake up my friend in the next room. We jump in his car and he gets me to the locker room. I throw on my gear and sprint into the weight room while the strength coach is in the middle of running warm-ups. I try to sneak into a flex line but, damn, he saw me. He doesn’t miss anything.
“What the f*^% are you doing? Who are you to come in late? You have no respect for us, yourself, or your team. Why are you late?”
“Coach I had no ride. Tucker didn’t get me up,” I try. Now the strength coach’s face starts to turn red.
“Why didn’t you get yourself up?”
”I was tired, coach. I was studying all night I have an exam this morning.” His face goes from red to crimson. Here it comes.
“You are always calling yourself a grown ass man, but act like a two-year-old! I know you are lying right to my face because you posted all night on snapchat and Instagram about you and Steve playing Madden all night! I’ll deal with you this afternoon!”
I forgot that the coaches now check all our social media accounts if we are late or not where we’re supposed to be. I’m going to have to get me a ghost account or something. I finish the warm-up and start the lift. Man, this stuff feels heavy today. We’re told to do eight reps of squats, but man, I’m tired. I’ll try and rack it at six; maybe they won’t notice.
“What the hell is wrong with you, grown ass man. Can’t even count to eight? That’s okay; you can do that set over again while I sit here and watch.”
I gut out eight, finishing all my sets before moving on to lunges. Man, do I feel weak. I’m falling all over myself; can’t keep my balance for nothing. Keep pushing, just about done, I tell myself.
Wow, now I feel dizzy. I better go get me some water. Hitting the drinking fountain, of course not fast enough, I get yelled at for taking too long. I just have to get through this set — five reps. one, two, three and stop.
I’m running to the trash can, puking up the water I just drank and now I feel really dizzy. Coach asks me what the hell is going on; when was the last time I ate anything. I told him yesterday at lunch I had a burger and some fries.
“You haven’t eaten anything since lunch yesterday? We had agilities and running yesterday afternoon.”
I told him that I had a make-up test to do since I missed the original due to family matters and had to get in extra time with my tutor to help me prepare for it. He nods his head and gives me a protein bar and a Gatorade. I know he feels bad. I had to go home to give my mother some of my pell money because they were going to shut off her electricity. She and my younger siblings needed grocery money, too. We were hard off since Dad just up and left.
Coach tells me to go to the training room, have the athletic trainer double check that I am alright, and come back to check in with him later. I go to the training room and the trainer tells me I have to put food in my body, or I will be like a car without gas and won’t be able to go anywhere. I’ve heard all of this before, but just don’t have the time to eat.
It’s now 7:30 p.m. and I have to take that test I missed. I still feel a little dizzy and sick. Although after two breakfast sandwiches and an orange juice, I start to feel better. The professor in my next class gives us a huge essay that is due in two days. I hate writing!
I text my girlfriend; she’s still mad at me for going home instead of spending time with her last week. While we’re texting back and forth my phone rings. Uh-oh, the head coach is calling.
“Yes, coach?” I answer. He tells me to come up and see him. I walk over to his office, meeting him, my position coach, and my strength coach. They sit me down and I think I am going to be screamed at. I can’t take much more of this, but I can’t afford school on my own. I need to graduate and make it to the big league so I can take care of my mama.
Instead of screaming, he starts telling me he is concerned about me and wants to know why I keep messing around. He pulls up my grades; they are slipping, but I always pull through every semester. Then, he and the strength coach start telling me how I am underachieving because I don’t take care of my body. My position coach keeps getting on me to be a leader because I am the best player at my position. How can I lead when I can’t take care of myself?
We go back and forth for an hour. I’ve missed lunch and have to get to class. When I go to workouts after, my strength coach comes to my locker and gives me a workout bar and a Gatorade and tells me to eat it before the workout. I do, and I feel good and have a great running session.
And now the punishment from this morning. I am getting ready to run and coach tells me to come with him to the weight room. I thought I was going to have to do a thousand squats or something, instead he hands me a pen and tells me to write I will not be late repeatedly on all of the mirrors in the weight room.
He and his staff are hanging with me while I do it, talking about life and stuff, keeping it real — which I appreciate. I’m done in 15 minutes. Afterwards, he hands me Windex and a towel and has me erase all of the writing. He told me I paid my debt to society and was free to go and to eat dinner.
On my way to the dining hall, my girlfriend calls and tells me to come over. I get to her place, we argue for an hour, and I leave. It’s getting late and I have to get to study hall. I’ve skipped dinner again, but I’ll grab a snack later. After study hall, I go home where Steve is waiting, wanting a rematch at Madden.
We start playing and I tell him no more posts on social media so we don’t get caught. We start playing and after a bit look at the time. Man, 1:45 a.m. already! I have to go to bed because I have workouts in the morning. I get in bed, hit all the social media sites to catch up, and fall asleep around 2:30 a.m.
Bang, bang, bang.
“Get up, yo. Time for workouts; I’m leaving.”
This is a typical example of a college athlete; who we all work with day in and day out no matter the level we work at. Keep all of this in mind when they are not themselves, screwing up all the time, or you just feel they are not acting right. You will be amazed at what you may find out about them.
Don’t forget who you are dealing with.