Those who are close to me know that I’ve never been a huge fan of football. I blame it partly on coming from a part of West Texas where football is life and if you’re not involved in football, you can feel like an outcast. My indifference for football may have also been that there I really couldn’t find a place to fit into it.
Growing up, I was always semi-athletic, but, as I made my way through high school, I found less and less time for athletics and found that the places I felt that I belonged were behind a guitar, a microphone, a computer screen, or a video camera.
This past July (2011) a unique opportunity was placed before me. I had been posting some information on facebook about the video work that Adam and I had been doing and I received a message from a certain Coach McKinney.
If I recall correctly, he had started working at Midland Christian School (my high school alma mater) my freshman year (1999-2000) and was my history teacher and then my World Geography teacher my senior year (2002-03).
12 years after our introduction, I receive an email, through facebook, from him telling me that the head coach (Coach McClendon) was looking for someone to do the video work for the 2011 football season and upon further discussion told me that there was also an opportunity to do the season highlight video.
I was a bit reluctant at first because I didn’t know what to think about having to go to every football game for an entire season. When I was in junior high and high school, I think I only went to one football game and was fine with it.
After careful consideration, I went ahead and set up a meeting with Coach McClendon. This was a challenge in and of itself for me because I had limited memories of Coach Mac and they weren’t all that pleasant (mostly my perception).
He probably doesn’t know this, but, my first year at MCS was Coach Mac’s first year. I remember when they announced him as head coach and I, being a 7th grader in a new school with only knowing 2 other people, thought he was one of the scariest human beings I had ever been in the same room with.
So, 14 years later, I have a meeting with a man who I remember being a very intense guy and a dress-code/shaving nazi.
Needless to say, I was a bit nervous. But, business is business and he had a need that I was interested in filling.
At the end of our meeting, we had both arrived at conclusions that we were both satisfied (if not happy) with and one of the last things he said to me was, “I’m really not a mean guy, I’m just really intense.”
That pretty much disarmed the whole situation and from that point on, I have seen him in a totally different light.
Once that part of the contract had been nailed down, it was time to go after the highlight video with the booster club.
After a lot of prayer and a little negotiating, we shook hands over the phone and thus began the biggest part of this journey for me.
At this point, I decided to take a huge leap of faith and quit my full time day job to pursue video full time.
The first engagement I had was a scrimmage in Hobbs, NM. So, I drove to Midland from Lubbock and hopped on the first of many bus rides.
At the end of the day, it was a fun experience, but, I also had the anxiety of wandering if what I was doing was going to be what the job called for.
2 weeks passed and our boys were sitting 0-2. Things weren’t looking too bright, but, it was early in the season and I didn’t feel like they had found their groove yet.
With homecoming 2 weeks away, I was semi-disappointed because I was going to be showing the first highlight video of the season and, I don’t know about those guys, but, I wouldn’t have wanted to be reminded of the preceding losses.
The next week came and we were facing a team that some people were sure would defeat us as they had for the last several years.
What ended up happening was the turning point in the season. Our Mustangs pulled out all of the stops and ran over the other team.
11 games and 3 highlight videos later, we boarded the buses to leave for the last game of the season: The State Championship.
Over the last 11 weeks, I had seen these boys bond with each other in a way that my wildest imagination could not have arrived at and I saw these boys as a family.
The Friday night before the big game, we reached our destination in Killeen for dinner. After dinner, I was allowed to witness a part of Mustang tradition that I had never heard of. What I saw and experienced is only for those that took part, and for that, I can say nothing more than that night, I saw boys become young men. It was an incredible event and I am thankful that I was given the benefit of being there. It was something that I will never forget as long as the Lord allows me my memory.
The next day, I watched from the sideline as these new men claimed their first victory in manhood and their last as a family. In the face of tragedy, both past and present, and in the face of adversity, I watched as they came together as a single unit and conquered.
I’ve done a lot of personal growing this past year and part of the benefit of growing is the opportunity to watch others grow.
I watched this team act as adults in the face of adults for opposing teams who were acting like children. I watched other “Christian School” teams and their fans scream obscenities at the tops of their lungs and I watched our team refuse to react.
Along the way, I made several friends. I will not forget the road trips with Doc and Manuel and the drunk Migra…
Am I now a fan of football? That may be up for discussion, but, one things is for sure, I am a fan of the Mustangs.
I don’t know who will read this, but, I can say that I am proud to have been a part of the 2011 Midland Christian Mustang Football Team, and the school should be proud of their representation. I know I am.
p.s. thanks to Jamie Rasbury for the photo 😉