Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate October 2001

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Jonathan Meade English 101 8/28/2001 Football As I sat in the locker room, the stench of stale sweat and urine burning my nostrils, I felt fear creeping up my spine. The reason why I was so close to losing control of my bladder was that I was about to begin my very first football practice. I was so petrified because I was grossly undersized for my age, weighing only 120 and standing only 5'5. I was a half pint compared to everyone else, but my dad insisted I play football or else I might be labeled as a sissy. And I didn't want that to happen for that would mean I wouldn't have any friends. So I heeded my father's advice and I joined the football squad. "Let's move it you punch of girls!"� yelled my coach as he jogged past me. I was still trying to tie my shoes, but very unsuccessfully because of the growing fear in the pit of my stomach, when my best friend Dave grabbed my arm and dragged me onto the football field.

All during calisthenics I watched the older boys tackling each other, which in the process increased my fear ten fold. After calisthenics it was time to scrimmage for the first time. I stood behind the biggest guys I could find so that my coach could not see me and send me in as running back, which the coaches chose for me. Unfortunately they don't need to see you to call your name as I soon found out. Thinking that I was going to make without having to get hit I became very blissful. All of a sudden I heard those gut wrenching words uttered by my coach, "MEADE GET IN THERE!"� As I took my position behind Matt my fullback, I felt my pulse quicken and heart start to beat faster and faster. This was going to be the first play that I actually got the ball and I was concentrating with all my mental capacity on which hole I was supposed to hit. When the signal to start was yelled, I forced my legs to carry to the ball, then through the hole onto a touchdown. When I heard the whistle to stop, I ceased pumping my legs and realized that I had just scored a touchdown on my very first offensive play. I remember thing to myself that maybe football wasn't going to be so bad after all.

Here I am four years later, thanking god that I had football in my life. High school football forever changed my life forever. The things I learned, while my teammates and I expelled blood, sweat, and tears, are things that people in the "real world"� have no concept of. The agony of defeat and the overzealous joy of victory are not the only experiences I gained from playing football. Friendship, trust, determination, and mental integrity.

My fellow teammates and I were friends. Theses were kids that I had spent 4 years fighting side by side on the field of battle. We constantly strived to better ourselves by beating the living crap out of each other day in and day out. We spent about three hours a day and five days out of the week together. These guys had to be my friends otherwise our team would have killed each other during practice. My teammates and I are bonded together forever. I remember every kid on my team and exactly what position they played. Nothing will ever break that bond that we share.

Trust. Not many people trust others beside themselves, but I trusted every one of my teammates with my life. I was a running back so I had to trust my lineman that they would get to their designated spot and block who they were supposed to block otherwise when I got to the hole I would be met by the whole opposing team.

I gained determination almost every game of my high school career. I cannot count the times that in my team's time of need I was called upon to do the impossible. One such time, that I can remember with crystal like detail, was when we were playing the Principia panthers. It was in overtime and the panthers had just gone up by a touchdown. We managed to score a touchdown right when time expired. I remember standing in that huddle, the smell of sweat and blood overwhelming my sensations, when the play was called. We would not be going for a tie; we were going for the win. It was a straight dive play with me running the ball. My whole team was counting on me the win the game and that's when I felt the sensation that I was invincible. I felt that nothing could stop me from scoring and winning the game. As I took my face behind my quarterback, I peered into the souls of the defensive players through their eyes. What I saw startled me. I could see the fear, growing every steadily, in their eyes. When the cadence was called I got the ball and pumped my legs like the engine of a locomotive. My eyes were focused on the goal line. Two panthers hit me two yards before I crossed the goal line. Not once did the idea of not scoring cross into my plain of thought. I carried those two defenders right across the goal line, winning the game in the process. If I didn't gain determination through constant practice the game would have been lost.

You have got to have a strong mind to play the sport of football. Football is eighty percent mental and twenty percent physical. If you do not have mental integrity then you will be sitting on the sideline watching others play. In the fourth quarter, when you have already used up all your reserve energy, is when games are won. If you are not strong of mind then you will lose. Football forced me to gain mental integrity.