I am participating in the NaBloPoMo challenge for May. It should be a fun one. It is titled: Play.
Today’s topic is what sports did you play as a child?
Truth be told I could play a mean game of jacks when I was a kid. I had my fair share of victories on the hopscotch court and ruled at kickball in my early years dominating the playgrounds of Highlawn Elem in Huntington, West Virginia.
I won a many hand of blackjack and 5-card stud and was a mean thrower on the craps table. I could slam a game of bones and my UNO skills were just slightly inferior to my nun-chuck skills.
Growing up in the rust belt we were under the shadows of the Pittsburg Steelers, the Cincinnati Bengals and the lowly Cleveland Browns. Each of these pro teams were less than a days drive from my house.
Being this close obviously meant that little boys played football. We lived, breathed and ate football. Even at six, when I first put on a helmet, I was ready to rock and roll on the grid iron.
It was a different time back then. Little boys didn’t run to their mommy for every owie and daddy didn’t sue the league if his son didn’t get to play.
One of my fondest memories when I was a child was Thanksgiving Day in the second grade. I was playing on the Onslow County pee-wee football league and we got to play on Thanksgiving Day at Marshall Univeristy in THIER stadium on ASTROTURF.
Thanksgiving day football is just about as much American as you can get. It is the day that the Lions play. It is the day that American’s team, (for goodness sake!) the Dallas Cowboys play!
Our little team got to play on a real field in front of fans in the stands. They announced our names on the loudspeaker and the scoreboard showed who was winning AND losing. Yes, like I said it was a different time back then. Games didn’t end in ties just for the self-esteem of the players. If we lost, we lost and we heard about it from the coach at the end of the game. THAT builds character. None of this crap, ” Johnny, go out there and have fun. Who cares if you win or lose…”
While the game on turkey day was awesome it was who was in the stands that made it great.
My dad was in the stands. He and my mom had called it quits a couple years before and my dad was now living in the coal mining town of Logan, WV with some lady named LaDonna.
Hmmm. My mom’s name was Donna. Go figure…
I digress. Let’s get back to the game.
Also in the stands was my mom and soon-to-be step dad, Mike. He was watching me play for the first time.
Mike was a U.S. Marine. He was a college football star at West Virgina. Yep that WVU. Home of the Mountaineers.
He also played linebacker at West Virgina Tech and was drafted by THE Oakland Raiders.
He decided to serve his country instead.
What does all this have to do with me and what sports I played?
Mike taught me the game of football. He made me into one hell of a linebacker. The position I played all the way through high school.
Those skills carried over to a force to be reconned with on the ice rink playing hockey and one of the best short-stick center-defense lacrosse players in the suburbs of Washington D.C.
I was so tough on the lacrosse field that I was nick-named the Terminator. I had a haircut like The Boz.
I carried those skills with me to play hockey, indoor and outdoor lacrosse in adult leagues and even today I try to instill that same work ethic in my kids that are involved in high school sports right now.
Because kids, in life as in sports, it does matter who wins. Don’t let anyone fool you different.
I guess it was a different time back then.
What sports did you play as a child?
Robert Forto is mushin’ down a dream in the wilds of Alaska. He and is wife are raising two teenagers at Forto’s Fort.