- November 1st, 2004
...was the common call yesterday as my brothers and I made the three-hour trek to Seattle to watch the Seahawks play the Carolina Panthers. It was a fantastic game, with several moves putting the entire crowd onto their feet with roars, yells, and applause that rocked the heavens. To top it all off, it was a newsworthy game, and we won! Not only that, my younger brother and I were able to do some 'back and forths' verbally that taught me more about the inner workings of the game (he used to play in highschool), and helped me work out a spectacular scene for The New Road, which you'll see posted below.
Once again this experience taught me that there is almost no greater inspiration for writing than life itself. Taking the time to live gives us experienes to write, and therefore people to touch with a part of ourself that we can sometimes keep dangerously close to our chest. So I'm going to try and take a lesson from football and get involved with the crowd, relishing the enthusiasm for living that is so often under-rated.
The New Road - Rocking the Stands
As Andy, Max, and their parents made their way through the crowd of other students and their parents, Vicki stared slack-jawed at the massive amount of bodies filing into the open field and partially-covered stadium. it was unlike anything she had ever seen back home in Colorado. There had to be at least 500 people looking for a place to sit.
Feeling a tug on her arm, Vicki focused on her younger brother and then gave him a smile. "Sorry." If he had known how adorable he looked in his Westlake Bobcats Rule! hoody of dark green with gold lettering, he would have glowered at her.
Vicki dutifully followed her brother up into the stands, accepting a program from her sister and a red licorice rope from her dad. Her mom offered her some popcorn.
"This is exciting, isn't it?" her mom prompted, caught up in the whole Homecoming Game atmosphere. Which wasn't hard to do after following the tail-end of the parade to the game.
Vicki nodded her agreement and then began looking around her at the several hundred people in the stands as both teams filed onto the field; blue and silver for the opposing Bulldogs, and green and gold for the Westlake Bobcats. No, she had definitely never seen so many people gathered in one place for anything. Westlake even had a 25-piece pep-band in the first section.
Wow, was all she could think while suddenly feeling like an ant instead of a teen.
Max gave her a firm nudge in the side, drawing her attention and motioning forward just as the opposing team kicked off. The crowd roared at the catching and forward run, pulling Vicki into their enthusiasm. Making her feel part of the group as everyone cheered on their team together. Now I get why Wil plays. The whole experience was a rush- Wil! He plays! What does he play? The memory of the fact that he was a member of the team had Vicki more closely watching the players, trying to figure out which position he held and then mentally kicking herself for not asking.
"Max, give me the program," she whispered, blindly reaching out as the teams finished their huddle and set up along the line of scrimmage for the next play.
Max just as blindly handed her the booklet listing the team players and their bios. Then he pointed forward. "Dude, watch that guy there on the other team. He's setting up for something."
Vicki looked up at her brother. "What do you mean?"
"Well, check it," he began, sharing glances between her and the field of players. "The Bobcats are 21 yards from the goal already. First down. Defense is getting desperate-" Max suddenly bolted to his feet, sending Vicki's attention to the field. "Crap! He's down!"
Vicki stood at practically the same time, as did more than half the fans, all gasping as they focused on the downed quarterback. Tempers had flared on the field, two Bobcats standing between a third and the Bulldog responsible for the tackle who had simply walked away.
"That was so Unnecessary Roughness!" Max shouted right along with a growing wave of similar complaints.
Watching the downed player, Vicki began worrying her lower lip when he didn't immediately get back on his feet. "Max... He's not getting up."
"Yeah. I know." Max crossed his arms, glowering down at the field. "Man, the guards were sleeping on the job. That guy should never have got through."
But Vicki didn't care about 'should never's or 'sleeping on the job' when at least two minutes passed with no movement. The coach and 'nurse' for the team had almost immediately come onto the field and knelt by the player, apparently asking him questions to determine how hurt he was. The other Bobcats had formed a ring around him and looked both ashamed and angry.
Vicki looked down to the program in her hand, asking, "What's his number?" as she scrolled down the list of names.
Nausea had nothing on what Vicki felt when she saw the name by the number. Wil...
"He's sitting up!" Max informed accompanied by a roar of yells and applause from the fans.
Slowly looking to the field, Vicki noticed Wil minutely shake his head as if trying to clear it. Then he seemed to release a few deep breaths as he gathered himself and then accepted his teammates help to his feet.
"Zow. He got womped hard and gets back up as if nothing happened!" Max observed, and Vicki could hear the respect in his tone.
"I don't know about that," she mumbled while watching Wil have a conversation with the coach. He doesn't want to be pulled. He wants to 'play it off', she told herself.
It definitely was something he would do.
Finally, the coach brusquely nodded, clapping Wil firmly on the arm before jogging off the field. Then the referee stepped to the sidelines, accepting the mic and announcing "Unncessary Roughness, Defense, 10-yard penalty," to which the fans roared and applauded in approval, still on their feet. In fact, they started chanting, "Rocket! Rocket! Rocket!" even as Wil and the rest of the team had finished their huddle and were setting up along the line.
Max smirked at Vicki, who still watched Wil, and said, "Gee. You think he might be popular here?"
"Yeah. He's nice," she responded absently, not noticing Max's lifted eyebrow or long glance.
Andy only smirked.
Max then gave Vicki a nudge and pointed to the program in her hands. "What's with 'Rocket'?"
"Hm? Oh. I don't know." Looking over Wil's bio, she couldn't help but smile. Team Captain, star quarterback, State Champions, Most Valuable Player, and holder of a state passing record that had earned him the nickname: Rocket Arm. So what's he doing hanging out with me? And why isn't he a jerk like every other jock? Of course, with a sister like Cora who wasn't afraid of calling him on his attitude problems, she could see why he might be the way he was.
"Here." Vicki passed the program to her brother, pointing to the explanation.
Max chuckled. "Zow. The wide-receiver and runningback have got to be loving the attention."
Tapping the program and the 'Yards Passed', Max explained, "These passes. Totally up to the QB and the receivers. If one is off, the play doesn't work. This QB trusts his receivers, that's for sure. He knows they'll get the job done."
Vicki looked again to the field, voicing only an absent, "Yeah," as her eyes focused on Wil. He seemed to move a little stiffly now. "Shouldn't he stay out of the game for a few minutes?"
"Nah. He'll work it off. 'Sides, it's all about intimidation. He plays after that womp and the defense will think twice of trying it again... What the-?" Max sharply pointed, directing Vicki's attention to the field.
Vicki gasped and covered her mouth with both hands, the crowd standing to their feet as the same Bulldog as before charged toward Wil. Before the tackle could be made, Wil snapped the ball to the wide-receiver. At practically the same moment, Vicki saw the runningback come at the approaching Bulldog at a full run, tackling him before he made contact with Wil, who got caught in the jumble. Next thing Vicki knew, players and coaches alike were running onto the field pulling apart the runningback for the Bobcats and the tackled Bulldog, shouting over the din to cool flaring tempers and cut the chaos.
Then Wil was seen standing in front of the runningback, a hand holding the player's face-guard as he shouted a firm command; whatever it was Vicki couldn't understand. The Bobcat runningback and Wil exchanged several comments before the runningback shrugged free of the others and roughly pushed Wil's hand from his face-guard. Then he stalked off the field after a sharp word of command from the coach.
"Geez!" Max hissed. "This is wild! These teams must have some kind of feud going on or something."
Vicki could only nod as she watched Wil turn to the other players, offer some words which they accepted with reluctant nods, and then present his hand to the Bulldog that had tried to tackle him a second time. The Bulldog stared down at it for a long time before accepting it and giving it a firm shake.
Again the crowd roared to life with a chant of "Rocket!" as the game once more got underway. Vicki found that because she more closely knew one of the players, the game seemed more... important... or something. During offense, Vicki always kept her attention on Wil, realizing that she noticed more things about how he played just because she knew it was him. When the defensive team switched in, Vicki couldn't help but watch how Wil would pace up and down the sidelines while yelling encouraging comments to his teammates.
He loves this game. It showed in the care he took with every part of it. So... So why is he lonely if he has all this? Then again, why was she lonely when she had her family and friends? Vicki slowly sat, accepting the offered cola from her dad while giving him a slight smile. She was lonely because she hadn't had a healthy relationship with God all summer. She had been ignoring Him, or blaming Him for her own problems instead of trying to make them better.
Yeah. That was why Wil was lonely; Because the game wasn't enough to fill a need. That was why he kept pushing himself so hard. He was trying to find the 'enough'.