I was at Norwalk High School’s first football practice last Monday and it all looked the same. Players running around, doing their drills with all of the excitement of a child on Christmas morning. The first day of practice always is something special.
It’s when you get into the second and third weeks when the fun dies out. Your pads are soaked through with sweat and smell like somebody died. Nothing says two-a-day football practices like the rancid smell of the locker room. Forty-five years later and that is what I remember.
That, along with taking a handful of salt pills before practice, dragging over-stuffed blocking dummies about a half a mile to and from the practice field each day and driving the blocking sled for what seemed like miles.
Our coach loved the sled — especially the two-man sled that he could stand on. He was a pretty good-sized guy (we used to call him fat as we pumped our feet and kicked up dirt) and he made it tough to push that thing around.
I also remember our water jug. It was on wheels and had about eight hoses you would suck on. By the end of the day the water was hot and it never tasted any good. The sweat off your forehead tasted better than what we got out of our water jug.
I guess that’s what made us tough. Helmets on and chin straps snapped when practice started and they never came off until practice was over.
If I had a dollar for every up-down I did in high school I could be retired now.
But this practice last Monday was a little different. As the team broke off into its groups, somebody flipped the switch and the music came on, blaring through the air. That never would have happened when I played. We had to wait until our breaks between practices when we would all got to our cars in the parking lot and have a sandwich. Somebody would open their car door, pull out an old speaker (minus the woofer and tweeter) and pump out some Rolling Stones.
I’m not quite sure what they were playing last Monday. It was loud and to me, wasn’t very good. I politely asked first-year coach Todd Fox if they had any Beach Boys.
He just laughed.
The players these days are like well-oiled machines. They lift weights all year and have seven-on-seven passing scrimmages throughout the summer. They have their offenses in before the first two-a-days ever begin.
When I played we took the summer off. On our first practice we started from square one. It took us a week to get in shape and get going. These guys today start the season running and never look back.
I just wonder how long before Ohio starts spring football like they have in Florida, Texas and California.
Fox and his Truckers have their first scrimmage this morning as they welcome in Olmsted Falls and coach Tom DeLuca, a NHS grad and son of former Trucker coach Ron DeLuca.
I like what I see so far from Fox. He’s a good man and appears to have the program on the right track.
Now if he could only get some better music for his practices.
Joe Centers is Reflector managing editor. He can be reached at [email protected]