More than just a field

Mitch Dorr

Early Tuesday morning just before 5:00 a.m. I was at the football field with several bags of weed and feed and a rotary spreader. Thegrass was fresh with dew and I wanted to make sure I was completely finished while the grass was still wet.

It may seem like something very mundane to many of you, but to past, present, and even future Cook County football players, that field represents a lot of memories too numerous to mention.

More importantly, the football field is where many young men learn a lot about values and life lessons. Whether you enjoy football or not, no one can argue that young men learning about teamwork, commitment, serving others, selflessness, hard work, etc. on the football field is beneficial not only to the athletes themselves, but to society as a whole.

As I made my first pass down the south sideline of the field, I recalled a game where it was third down and goal on our opponent’s nine-yard line. I was a freshman at the time, and Coach Anderson yelled at me to bring in the play. It was my first play of the year….and I was nervous! I got the play into the huddle without messing up, but then I lined up on the wrong side and needless to say, the play didn’t work. I had messed up.

What did Coach Anderson do? He chewed me out is what he did! He wasn’t worried about self-esteem or my “positive self-concept” at that moment. He was upset because he trusted me in a key situation and I had messed up. Back on the sidelines a few of my teammates came up from behind and said, “Don’t worry about it.” We were a team and supported each other in good times and bad.

That is what I love about football. It is hard both physically and mentally. Thegame tests you to see how much you can do and then it pushes you beyond that point. Today’s world of over-medication, over-analysis, and fear of “being hurt” has really limited young men and their ability to play with pain.

As I turn the rotary spreader around and reach the ten-yard line on the west side of the field, I come to the place of my first football injury. As a sophomore I was starting at wide receiver for the varsity, but the J.V. didn’t have a quarterback so I was it. I jumped up to pass in the third quarter and an opponent hit my knee on the way down. I was out for six weeks and they were the longest six weeks of my life.

Theweed and feed is now empty and I have to open another bag. As I empty a new bag, I realize I am in the dreaded spot of Coach Bockovich’s “grass drills” station and my calves almost instantly started to ache. I hated doing those up-downs for those 90 seconds that sometimes seemed to go on forever. I remember thinking that my calves were going to fall off, but somehow, we all got through it.

As I finish feeding the field, the memories from Friday nights past travel through my head at a blinding speed. A blocked punt, touchdowns, big hits, teammates, opponents, state tournament teams, the band, fans waiting for the players at the end of the game, etc.

My morning project took less than an hour, but I feel like I was in a time machine for hours. Our community has a rich tradition of football. While our community changes, evolves, and deals with challenges, I hope we continue to embrace the rich tradition of Cook County football.

Mitch Dorr, a Cook County High School Class of 1993 graduate, is now a social studies teacher and coach at his former alma mater. Mitch coaches Vikings football and boys’ basketball.

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2010-07-17 digital edition

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