Last night I drove by the Tenafly High School football "stadium" in Tenafly, New Jersey. Even in the dark, the memories flooded back - as did my biggest life lessons from playing football.
I know no one tends to sign up to play to learn humbling - but wonderful - life lessons. Certainly wasn't my intention when I joined the Tigers as a freshman in 1978.
I learned this... albeit the hard way: "It's better to move to a place you're GREAT AT than to stick in a position that you're "OK in." Do it for your team, for yourself and for your future!
My brother Todd was Tenafly's all star quarterback in the 70's.When I came on the scene, my brother Mark was Tenafly's all star senior quarterback.And I was tall for my age, fast and had spent years as the throwing "target" for two older brothers with arms like rifles... (Or was that throwing "dummy?" )
My brother Todd was Tenafly's all star quarterback in the 70's.
When I came on the scene, my brother Mark was Tenafly's all star senior quarterback.
And I was tall for my age, fast and had spent years as the throwing "target" for two older brothers with arms like rifles... (Or was that throwing "dummy?" )
My first ever starting QB play was against Fort Lee. I took the snap, faked a pitch - then ran 95 yards for a touchdown. Clearly, I was a quarterback... (I was big time now!!)
HOWEVER - that wasn't the norm from that play on... I went on to have a stunningly mediocre freshman season season... I was "good" - but truthfully, I wasn't great. I was slow to read the defense. I had poor eyesight and tended to be color blind to who I threw the ball to. (Some call this disease "interceptionitis)
Noting a string of interceptions, the "wiseguy" linemen on our team (who called me "Cal" for obvious reasons! I called them "Iggy." "Fief" "Ports," "Luuch" All Jersey boys, right? ) even wrote a song borrowing from theme song of Mahogany sung by Dianna Ross:
"CAL - Do you know where you're throwing to? Do you like the blocks that we've been trying to throw for you... where are you throwing to? Do you know??... Do you care??"
It wasn't until my junior year (after more mediocre seasons) that my coach became frank and honest with me, "Cal, you're doing OK at quarterback - but I believe you could really help us as a receiver. We need your help in that area. Would you be willing to try jumping in at receiver for a game or two?"
My first thoughts: "NO WAY COACH! How could I possibly?? I'm destined to play quarterback! Don't you know my last name? And I'm tall, fast and have QB emblazoned on my letter jacket!?"
But, "OK coach, I'll do it." I gulped. (hoping I wouldn't ruin our family name and that Coach would quickly repent for his error in judgement)
....... Incredibly - it worked! From the start, I LOVED playing receiver! It was fun! I was good at it! (At least better than I was at QB!) We started winning games!
Daryl Henderson stepped up to become one of Tenafly's best quarterbacks ever... our team went on to have a record season, making it to the state championship. We recorded one of the top amounts of offense in the state.
Having grown up as the "target" for two natural QB's I could catch a football since my life depended on it!
LIFE LESSONS: (mine.. but sharing in case this helps you! OK?)
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