Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sermon At North Park



You'll have to excuse my tardiness in posting this, it seems March Madness has taken over the majority of my attention. And if Aaron Craft had missed that three-pointer with 0.5 seconds left, I might have gone berserk on a 60-inch plasma television.

For full effect, download "Live Like We're Dying" by Kris Allen and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

When I was nine years old my parents enlisted me to play little league football for the city of Roy. This action may have played an influence in the fact that for a large portion if my life I would randomly lose consciousness and drool all over myself. However, I can also see this as one of their unique parenting tactics in hoping I wouldn't follow in the feminine footsteps of my other 10 sisters, so I'm not going to blame them for that.

In the five years that I played Roy Recreation football, (who by the way had the most hideous uniforms possible, brown and orange, come on!) I had one head coach who stuck out to me, Coach Neil Thompson.  For the sake of any Community fans out there reading this, I'll refer to him as Fat Neil Thompson.

Fat Neil Thompson was a legend in Roy Rec. football history. A middle-aged Oompa Loompa who didn't care that a permed mullet and Ray-Ban sunglasses were two decades out of style because his smoking hot wife and Harley Davidson made him the baddest coach on the block.  Fat Neil Thompson was a five-star boss in my book. To this day every kid he coached would go to war for him, no questions asked.

One frozen November afternoon at North Park, Fat Neil was trying to keep a group of nine-year olds focused on our upcoming championship game while snow came down and ADD settled in.  It was certainly hard to concentrate on football on a day when we couldn't feel our own pinkies, however that afternoon Fat Neil Thompson taught me something I perhaps would say is the only positive thing I have ever heard while living in that cursed city.

Fat Neil: "Hey! You guys wanna die?!"

To grab our attention better he could have said something like, "Who wants candy?!" or "Beau Hadley wet his pants!" but Fat Neil Thompson was only a football coach, not a motivational attention grabber. To those who were listening, he directed our sights to the highway, and pointed at a running stick figure in shorts and a tank top.

Fat Neil Thompson: "You see that guy way out there running by himself?"

We all turned and watched the stick figure inching his way along the highway while 30-degree temperatures grabbed a hold of his britches.

Fat Neil Thompson: "That right there is dedication kids. If you ever want to do something great, something amazing, you need to be like that lone runner way out there. Doing something hard when you don't think anyone else is watching you."

It has been ages since that sermon at North Park took place, and who knows where Fat Neil Thompson ended up. For all I know he joined an underground tour of "The Grateful Dead" and hasn't been heard from since.  But in the almost 20 years since he preached those words to me and my team, I can still picture that stick figure on the highway, with a pair of Ray-Bans delivering his spontaneous wisdom.

And every once in a while, when I'm by myself late at night, shooting hoops, swimming laps, or running stairs, the words of wisdom echo in my head. The sacred words of Fat Neil Thompson

What do you think?

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