“One More Day”

11 Jun

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I stood in the end zone of Smith-Robinson Stadium listening to this older gentlemen, talk about how proud he was of those standing around him. He spoke of past triumphs and successes, but what he kept coming back too is how we became great husbands, great fathers and successful in our own right. Of course, this wasn’t just any older gentlemen, this was Coach Peacock.

Between 1994-2000, Coach Peacock changed not only a small bedroom community in western Arkansas, he changed the game of football in the state. That’s just not where this story ends you see, Coach Peacock was beyond the cliché of “He was like a father to me”, no no he was a father to us. As we stood in that endzone, Beau Ames pointed out “Coach! This is just like after practice, we’re still hanging on your every word!”

My experience with Coach Peacock was similar to quite a few athletes that donned the pads for Greenwood. His way of making you work hard without truly knowing you were, was unbelievable. My story starts in the summer of ’97, like many I was trying to find my niche with the team, did I want to play wide receiver or did I want to play cornerback. In all honesty…….I sucked terribly at both. As the summer workouts dwindled down to Two-a-days, Coach Weston approached about taking a different role. He put his hand on my shoulder and said “Fuji, you’re not very fast, you can’t catch, and you can’t run the routes right….do you want to be an equipment manager?” Obviously psssh I said no, because I wanted to be a Bulldog. After a short pep talk from my cousin and uncle, I worked up the gumption to tell Coach Peacock I made the wrong decision and I was ready to be a manager.

Throughout three years of school his mantra of “Be The Best” is what I strived for. Just as the players were on the field, I wanted to be better than the opposing manager. It sounds silly to think about now, but then all I wanted was to “Be The Best”. Although, there were times I let Coach down. Oh man, do I regret those times, Coach Peacock was someone you never wanted to let down. I had gotten into the equipment room and took a jersey to wear at a soccer game. Thinking hey I could return it before anyone would notice, but I was wrong, it was stolen out of my locker before I could. I never told anyone because I didn’t want to be in trouble, but come media day, the cat was out of the bag. The blue #24 jersey was gone, which in turn caused the team to wear white jerseys on media day because then we didn’t have enough blue jerseys. I never ran extra or got a severe punishment for it because Coach Peacock was fair and just. I had to face each coach after meeting with him and the look on their faces of disappointment was enough to tell me I screwed up.

Coach Peacock taught us life lessons, valuable ones that I carry with me each and every day. Watching Coach and his wife interact (she was the cheer coach) everyday as if they had just met, showed us what being a husband really meant. Beau Ames said it best “Coach, when I was pushing the sled and you were on it, I wanted to give up because I was so exhausted. You looked at me and said ‘Are you going to give up on the guy next to you? Are you going to give up on your wife? Your kids?’ And I got so mad I worked harder. Until I became older I didn’t know what you meant. Now I do”

After a night of fellowship at the Burton Ranch, and hearing the stories of how Coach Peacock changed my teammates lives, it was an incredible feeling. Near the end of the Friday night portion, I walked up to Coach, gave him a big hug and said “Coach I’ve waited 14 years to hear you talk to us again, it’s been way too long.”

15 years ago I stood in the fieldhouse after a disappointing defeat to a very talented Harrison team and said goodbye to the assistant coaches, players, and Coach Peacock, just wishing I had one more day, one more week. I didn’t want it to end, this was family, this more than I could ever ask for. As we stood in that end zone on that Saturday afternoon, we listened to story after story not wanting to leave. I realized the Thursday night theme we had way back when, “One More Day”, about living life as if you had one more day.

You know what, we got that “One More Day” 

I want to say a huge thank you to all of those who put together the reunion. It was a great time had by all, and I can’t wait to do it all again

 

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