Confindence

People have always told me my whole life that I need to have confidence. Confidence in myself to go talk to that cute girl I have a crush on. Confidence in myself that I will do well in school, or in sports. Confidence in myself to finish my novel. Confidence in myself to just be me. Well, I’ll tell you why having confidence in myself after 27 years of life is so difficult for me.

My whole life I have been bullied, whether it be by classmates, friends, family, teammates and coaches, and even teachers and professors. Bullied by people who are supposed to tell you uplifting things so that you will succeed in life. People in your life that are supposed to instill confidence in you. Now, I’m not trying to get people to have pity on me. That’s not my reason at all. The reason is for people to understand why I am the way that I am.

I’ve had people in my life tell me, “Evan, you’re too fat to sit in that chair, you’ll break it.” “Evan, you’re too slow.” “Evan, you’re too dumb.” “Evan, you’ll never publish a book, let alone a best seller.” “Evan, you’re not good enough.” That’s the worst of them all, “Evan, you’re not good enough.” I would always ask myself why I was never good enough. So, I quit trying so hard. I barely graduated from high school. I barely graduated from junior college. I barely graduated from a four year university. Why you may ask? Because I didn’t have confidence in myself. I just figured the people in my life would see that I tried a failed and say, “Evan, you just weren’t good enough. You should have tried harder.” How was I supposed to have confidence to try harder and hope to succeed and exceed their expectations of them, when my whole life I’ve been told I’m not good enough?

My mom, dad and sister were the only ones who always pushed me to do better. They were the ones to tell me, “Evan, you can do well.” Although, it was hard for me to listen to them when the amount of people telling me that I can’t, were louder than my family telling me that I can. So, I figured I would seek some help from almost complete strangers to instill in me the confidence that I needed to succeed. I sought help from two professors at Central College. Brian Peterson and Sue Pagnac. These were the two people in my life that weren’t going to give up on me besides my mom and sister.

In my final semester at Central College, Brian and Sue took me under their wings. They both knew the struggle I was going through losing my father the year before. They knew that I struggled with alcohol abuse the year before. They knew the suicidal thoughts I had the year before. They knew I needed help and they didn’t give up on me, even though I didn’t make it easy for them at times.

I really bonded with Sue, because she could sympathize with me because like me, she lost her father a year or so before I lost mine. She was the person I could go to when I was struggling with losing my father. She would always tell me things like, “I’m always here if you need to talk about it or to talk about anything to keep your mind off of it.” Then she would tell me things like, “Think of all the good times you had with your dad and dwell on those. Think about the happy moments you had with him and hold on to those.” Sue saved my ass the last few weeks of my final semester at Central. I needed a 2.0 major GPA, and she helped me achieve that. She worked tireless with me on my Senior Seminar paper, which was 20 pages long. It was the most difficult college paper I would have ever had to write. It was actually the hardest paper I had to write in my entire life. I remember that when I started the paper the day it was assigned. I went to Sue and told her, “Sue, I have no clue where to start. I have to have so many resources to write this paper. I’ve never written anything like this.” You want to know what she told me? She told me, “Evan, gather as much information as you can on your topic. Read. Just write anything and everything that comes to mind of the topic and we’ll go from there.”

It was a very long 8 weeks. I forget the exact grade I needed to get on that Seminar paper, I know at least a C-. I remember when I finally finished all my drafts with Sue, she read through the whole thing with the guidelines that my professor wanted our papers to follow right next to my finished paper. Once she finished reading through it, she looked up at me from across her desk and said, “This is not C work, this is at the very least B work. You worked very hard on this, I don’t see you getting any other grade less than a B.” Well, once I got the graded final paper back, I had received a C. I took the graded paper to her and she was so disappointed. She wasn’t disappointed in me, she was disappointed that the professor for that class had graded my paper so harshly, but she was still happy that I got the grade I did, because it meant that I passed and I would graduate from Central College with my Bachelor’s degree in English.

Brian never gave up on me either. He knew how much of a hard time I had with losing my dad. My final year at Central I would have weekly or bi-weekly meetings with him to tel him how classes and everything were going. He would always point me in the right direction for different resources I could use to help me with my final year. He even arranged that I had 2 hours in the morning set aside in the test taking room at the Student Support Services office for studying. I tell you what, that final year at Central, I probably did more studying in that year than most students do in the whole four years of college. At least that’s how it felt. It’s been nearly two years since I graduated, and I remember waking up at 6 AM every morning to start studying, then I would go to class, go grab something to eat real quick, go to the library to study, then go to another class, go to my work study job and study there. Then I would grab a quick dinner, after dinner I would go to the library until it closed at midnight. Then I would finally go to my dorm room and continue to study until 2 or 3, sometimes 4 in the morning and repeat the process. Brian once told me he admired my hard work and determination but that I needed to get more than a couple hours of sleep at night, in order for the studying to pay off.

I just want to give Brian and Sue both my thanks for never giving up on me when it seemed like everyone else in my life had given up on me. I owe it all to them for getting me to graduation day with my degree in hand. That was the happiest day of my life. I want you both to know that you made such an impact in my life. This country needs more educators like you.

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It’s Been Way Too Long

It has been a long time since the last time I made a blog post. A lot of things have been happening in my life since then. My last post was about 9 days before I graduated from Central College. I worked for the landscaping company I worked for the summer before my final year at Central. I got a job at Menard’s Distribution Center. Dealt with deep depression. Got a girlfriend. My girlfriend and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into this world. How did it all happen? Well, here’s the story.

Most of the people that read my blog posts are mostly friends and family. But, for those readers that aren’t either; I actually did graduate from Central College with a Bachelor’s of Arts in English. Now let me tell you, there was a panic and anxiousness in me those last few days before graduation. It came down to small little mistakes I made writing my Senior Seminar final paper. If I had made any more minor mistakes, as far as spelling and grammar go, I would not have received that degree. Then I don’t know how my life would have turned out. To be completely honest, I probably wouldn’t be here right now. I’ll let you all ponder on that and you can come up with your own ideas as to why I wouldn’t be here.

Since graduation, I worked for the landscaping company I worked for the summer before graduating. With the company, I went from being told what to do, to my boss telling me I was in charge of one of our mowing crews. I asked her why she felt like giving me that responsibility, and mind you, it’s been awhile since this happened so I don’t remember the exact words, but she said something along the lines of, “I’m giving you this responsibility because I know that you will get lawns mowed on time. I also know that you will continue to work after your mowing route is finished by helping out the other crew with their route. You’re a hard worker and I wish I had everyone on my payroll that worked as hard as you do.” Now that felt pretty good. So, I took over as leading one of our mowing crews. I even trained one of our newer guys how to use our mowers and he picked up on it quickly. I have always tried to take pride in my job, no matter what the job was. I always tried to do the job right and fix it the best I could if I made a mistake. I stuck with the company from May of 2016 until things started slowing down in September of 2016. I had to look for work elsewhere.

September 20th of 2016 I started working part-time at Menard’s Distribution Center. The job they had me doing when I first started wasn’t the greatest because I was walking around and standing on concrete for 10 hours at a time, lifting and moving heavy stuff the whole time. I was making just as much money doing that in 2 weeks as I was mowing lawns, but I was working fewer hours because I was only working part-time. I thought to myself, I can’t imagine how much I would make working full-time. I struggled with depression from the time I started working there because I was only part-time and I was always doing the same thing, day after day; I thought to myself again, “This can’t be all my life is going consist of, there has to be more than working part-time and making such little money.” For a while, I contemplated suicide, because I didn’t see any other way out. Things in my life weren’t going the way that I was hoping they would. I would sometimes think, “What was the point of me going to college to just be working part-time at a dusty warehouse? I could have done that right out of high school and not have had all this student loan debt.” So, I decided I would get a second part-time job. I applied at Casey’s General Store the next day. They wanted to give me a job working in the kitchen, doing overnights from 11PM until 6AM on Friday’s, Saturday’s and Sunday’s. With my schedule at Menard’s, I couldn’t work those hours at Casey’s and work the 4PM to 2:30PM second shift schedule and not wear myself so thin that I would always be sick with a cold or flu. I had the interview at Casey’s one morning before having to go to work at Menard’s. The Manager that interviewed me wanted to hire me on the spot. I lied to her and said that things were starting to pick up at Menard’s and that my Manager there wanted to move me to full-time. I went in to work at Menard’s and spoke with my Manager right away and asked him if I could go full-time. He said, “Absolutely, let me get the paper work right now for you to sign and you’ll start the full-time schedule next week.” That was on a Thursday, the new work week at Menard’s was Sunday and I worked that Sunday. I have been working full-time for Menard’s for over a year now, and couldn’t be happier. I might even apply to be a supervisor within the next month.

Since working at Menard’s I found someone I love very much. Her name is Laura. I met her at work and I was super nervous to talk to her. I asked this girl I work with Lilly to talk to her for me and tell Laura that I kind of like her. The next day after that, Laura came up to me that she just got out of a bad relationship and that before that, she found out she was pregnant. She had a lot of other things going on in her life, like fixing up her house that she just bought the year before. She said she didn’t have a lot of money to hire people to do the work on the house, so she was having to get volunteers to help with the house. I offered my help to her because I knew a few things about fixing up houses, because my own family had to fix up our house due to a flood. One day I went in to work on my off day just to work a couple hours. I wrote my name and number with a little note on a little piece of paper and asked Lilly if she would give it to Laura for me because I wasn’t going to be at work the whole night to give it to Laura myself. So Lilly did, I didn’t hear anything from Laura except when I would see her in passing at work. Then one day at work, I was building pallets with our stock product for the stores we distribute to, when Laura sought me out and asked me if I wouldn’t mind helping at her house that weekend by striping paint off of trim boards she was salvaging from the house. I said, “Absolutely, do you need my number?” She said, “I still have that note that Lilly gave me from a week or so ago. I’ll text you some time tomorrow morning or afternoon so that I can give you my address and then you will have my number.” The rest is pretty much history from that day on. I will post another blog about more of the details of how Laura and I fell in love with each other. Since that day, she had a beautiful baby girl, Aria Faith. I love that little girl with all my heart. I love her like she was my own flesh and blood. When I see Aria, I don’t see some other mans daughter. I see my own daughter.

Life has certainly had its ups and downs. It’s been an amazing ride and I can’t wait to tell you all more about all the other big things that happened in between these big things that happened to me in my life. I thank God every day for the life He has given me. Until next time everyone. I hope you all enjoy the read.

9 Days

9 days…9 days and I’ll know whether or not I will finally graduate from college with my bachelors degree in English from Central College. In 9 days, I’ll be leaving behind some amazing friends that I have made, just from this year alone. I’m gonna miss you guys, I promise to come back and visit. In 9 days, my mother will be the only one in my family to be at the graduation ceremony watching my sister and I walk across the stage and watch us receive our diplomas. In 9 days, it’s going to be hard to deal with the fact that my father won’t be there, but he will have the best seat in the house sitting next to my sister and me. I hope I made you proud pops, I miss you every single day.

In 9 days, I will be putting an end to ever having to write another paper. I’ll be putting to end to never have to take another exam. I will, however, begin my journey as a writer. I know that seems ironic. Ya’ll are probably thinking, “Evan, you just said that you’ll never have to write another paper again, why would you want to continue writing?” Well, to answer that, imagine you have to read a book that is probably the hardest to read. There’s even a guidebook on how to read this book. For those of you reading, I’m referring to a book written by James Joyce, Ulysses, one of the hardest books I have ever read in my life, next to an anatomy textbook. Reading an anatomy textbook is like reading a picture book compared to this. Anyway, I have worked tirelessly on writing a 20 page paper about a topic over just one chapter of this book. Yet, I still want to continue writing. But, the difference between writing another paper and me wanting to continue writing, is that I don’t ever have to do any more critical analyzes in order to write.

What I will be doing is writing novels for the rest of my life. Or at least I hope that’s what I can do. In 9 days I can start that journey, in between working for a landscaping company and looking for another job where I can use my degree. Being a writer doesn’t pay the bills right away.

In 9 days, I hope to make my mother proud, because she’s the only one left for me. Well, my sister Briante and the rest of my family like my aunts and uncles, and cousins. But I didn’t go to college for them, I went to college to make my mother and father proud. I already received my associates degree in Science from Waubonsee Community College back in 2012. But, I can’t get a job with that degree. Sorry this is a shorter blog, but I just wanted to say that it’s looking like I’ll graduate in 9 days and that it has been one hell of a ride.

What If…

What if? We are always saying, “What if?” What if I had gotten that full-ride scholarship to college to play division 1 football at Ohio State University? What if my feet weren’t all messed up and I could have joined the military? What if I said this, would she have gone on a date with me? What if I said this, would she still be my girlfriend? What if I hadn’t drank last weekend, would I have done better on that paper and gotten all of my homework done? What if?

These are my what ifs. I loved the game of football. I loved strapping up everyday for practice and suiting up for games on Friday nights. I started playing when I was in 8th grade. My parents never forced me to do sports, but they always said, “If you sign up for a sport, you have to stick it out until the end of the season.” This was never an issue for me because I loved sports and I tried a lot of them. Football seemed to be my calling. I wasn’t exactly fast, strong or had very much endurance. But as I continued to practice every day for five years, I got faster, stronger and had more endurance. My football coach told me I had the potential to play division 1 football. That just pushed me to train harder and never give up. Until one day, I fumbled one snap and my coach took me out for the rest of the season. I tried the rest of the season to be able to just be put in during a game, but it only happened twice for only two plays. After that, I thought what if I hadn’t fumbled that snap. Would I have been playing football at Ohio State University? Would I have been on the National championship team when Ohio State won it back in 2015? Would I be getting ready for the draft? I will never know because my buddy Nick was offered that scholarship and he was my back-up before I fumbled that one snap. He turned it down because he wanted to go to school to be a mechanic. So what if?

I remember when I was about 12 years old; I told my dad I wanted to join the Marine Corps after I graduated from high school. My dad asked me why and I told him it was because I wanted to be just like him. He told me, “You know you don’t have to be just like me right bud?” Then I said, “I know dad, but I want to be just like my hero.” He didn’t say anything, he just teared up. When I finally got to high school, my school had military recruits come to talk to set up a booth to talk to us considering the military after graduation. I went to every single booth and talked to every branch of the military. My dad’s father was in the Navy and my dad and his brother Dale were both in the Marine Corps. I wanted to keep the military tradition going in my family so I wanted join either one, but the Air Force piqued my interest as well. I remember one night when I got a call from a Navy recruit and I told him that I had flat feet and other issues with my feet and I didn’t know if I could enlist. So the recruit asked me if he could speak with my mom or dad, so I handed my mom the phone because she knew my medical history. She talked with him for quite a long time. I remember overhearing my mom say, “I don’t know if I can look him in the eye and tell him that.” I knew right then and there that the recruit said that I wouldn’t be allowed to enlist in the Navy. After my mom hung up the phone, she had tears in her eyes. I couldn’t tell if they were happy tears or sad tears. Knowing my mom they were probably a mixture of both because she was happy that I wasn’t able to enlist in the military. She didn’t want her baby boy getting shipped off to war and possibly get killed. Well mom, I could die in a car accident just as easily as getting killed at war. Dying for this country is more honorable than dying in a car accident by a drunk driver or someone simply not paying attention while they’re driving. So she turned to me and said, “Evan, the Navy won’t allow you to enlist.” I looked at her and said, “I’ll try to enlist in the Marine Corps.” This is when she broke down and cried and said, “You won’t be able to enlist in any branch of the military because of you feet.” Now it was my turn to break down and cry. I was sobbing I was crying so hard. I had been wanting to enlist in the military since I was 12 years old. That was a long time before my first foot surgery. That was a long time before I started playing football. Being in the military was what I had always dreamed of. I thought that it was my calling. After my mom and I dried up our tears she said, “We should have tried to find a better pediatrician that would have fixed your feet when you were really young. Then we might not have had this problem, keeping you from your dreams.”

I think back now, wondering, what if we found a pediatrician when I was younger, if they would have fixed my feet where I wouldn’t have had the surgeries that I’ve had. What if I hadn’t had those surgeries, would I have been able to enlist? The Navy recruit told my mother that I would have been able to enlist if I hadn’t had corrective surgery. But my foot doctor told me that if I didn’t have the surgery, I would be in a wheelchair by the time I’m 30 years old. So what if? What if I didn’t get that surgery, I was able to enlist in the military and something happened to me while I was deployed? Would I have been injured to the point where I lost a limb or two or all of them? Would I have sustained an injury that paralyzed me where I would be stuck to a wheelchair anyway? At least being put in a wheelchair defending this country would be worth it. Not because my doctor told me that it might be a possibility that I might wind up in a wheelchair if I didn’t have the surgeries that I have had. What if? What if I enlisted in the military and nothing happened to me anyway? What if? “God has a plan, and your plan wasn’t a part of His plan.” I remember my mom always saying that to me. I think deep down inside she was ecstatic that I wasn’t able to enlist in the military because she would be worried every waking moment of her life until I returned home. She just wouldn’t want me to return home in a box. My dad on the other hand was different. I know he would be afraid something would happen to me if I got deployed to war. But at the same time, he would have been proud to call me his son, not just because I was defending our country. But because I was following my dream in the most honorable way. I think he was more devastated than I was because he knew it was my dream to enlist. It was the only thing I knew I wanted to do with my life.

Now I’m just three short weeks away from graduating from Central College with my bachelor’s degree in English. Since being at Central I have made some life long friends. Had some ups and some downs, but I always got through them. The worst was when I got the call that my dad died. I wanted to drop out of school and stay home with my mom so she wouldn’t be alone and help her pay the bills. But she told me, “I will kill you if you drop out now when you’re so close to graduating. You have put way too much time and money and effort in you education to give up to help take care of me because dad died. You will be finished with school in a year and a half. You can finish out and make me, and more importantly you dad, proud.” But being this close to graduation, I still have some what ifs. What if my grades aren’t high enough to graduate? What will I do then? I don’t know what the future holds, so I’m just going to keep working hard the last three weeks. Hand in all my final assignments and hope and pray to God for the next three weeks that I can pull it off and have my degree in hand after all the time, money and effort I put into trying to get my bachelor’s degree.

So a few words of advice to those of you reading. Don’t fret on the what ifs. Think about working yourself to the bone to achieve your goals. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Let that be your motivation to fuel you in your pursuit of your dreams. Think about what you want to happen, and work so hard that you’re exhausted to try and achieve your dream, and accept the outcome no matter what. Because you don’t want to look back on your life and still wonder…what if?

37 Days

37 Days…37 days from now, my sister and I will be graduating from Central College. 37 days from now, is supposed to be one of the happiest moments of my life so far. My mom is going to be here for the ceremony, maybe my aunt, cousin, uncle, maybe my best friend…but my dad won’t be here. 37 days from now, I don’t know if I’ll truly be happy on this day. The one person, the one reason I started this journey to get my bachelors degree in college won’t be here.

My dad always wanted to see me graduate from college. Every time my sister and I would go home for a break from school, he would always tell us how happy and proud of us he was. I always said back to him with a smart ass remark, “I don’t have my degree yet dad. Tell me you’re proud of me when I have it in hand.” Then he would grab me by the arm and pull me in for a hug and whisper in my ear, “I’m proud of you because you are my son.” I know he was proud of my sister too, even though I never really heard him tell her that, but I just know my dad, and he loved my sister very much.

I can’t even begin to think of how my mother is going to be feeling come graduation day. Well actually I do, my mother is always an emotional wreck when it comes to stuff like my sister and I graduating. She was an emotional wreck when I graduated high school, and she was the same way when my sister graduated from high school. Shit, she was an emotional wreck when Briante and I got our acceptance letters into Central College. But, I can imagine that it’s going to be worse on this graduation day, because she knew how much my dad really wanted to see my sister and I walk across the stage to get our bachelors degrees.

I really miss you dad. I wish you could be here to see Briante and I both graduate. But I know you’ll have the best seat in the house, sitting right next to mom in spirit, watching the two of us walk across that stage in 37 days.

Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights. To some that is just the title of a movie or TV series. To those who have played football or still play football, it’s moments that we dream of. High school football is a defining moment in a young football player’s life. Those Friday nights could lead to earning full ride scholarships to play football in college. Playing on Saturday nights, dreaming of winning the National Championship. Dreaming of playing on Sunday nights, dreaming of winning the Super Bowl. To me, it was everything.

I didn’t start playing football until I was in 8th grade. A lot of my classmates had been playing since they were five years old. I had a lot of work to catch up. My coaches loved it when I came to talk to them about joining the team because I would have been the biggest lineman in the conference. When I signed up, I was just under six foot tall, and weighed in at 215 pounds.

When I got home that afternoon from talking with the coaches, I walked in the house and asked my parents if I could play football. My mom always said, “Is this something you really want to do? You know our rule about signing up for a sport, you start the season, you finish the season. No quitting in the middle of a season.” Looking back, I never really wanted to quit a sport in the middle of the season. I was always anxious for the next season once it had ended. I loved sports!

My dad had the happiest look on his face when I asked him and my mom if I could play. Now he could tell his one and only son about his football playing days. I had always seen my dad’s pictures of him playing football, but I never really did ask him about it much, he just said, “When I was in high school, we had 3-a-day practices, and I would go to work in between practices.” I didn’t think about that much, because in middle school we only had after school practices. I was still a little fit from wrestling and track just a few weeks before practices started for football, so I wasn’t exactly out of shape once I was able to practice.

It was the state rule that football players had to have 3 full practices without pads on before they could strap up their pads and have full contact. Now I had never really been hit before in my life, so I didn’t know what to expect. So on that first day I could practice at full contact. I fell in love with football. It got this feeling that’s hard to explain. I just fell in love with the sport. I struggled to remember the plays, but my coach mostly told me, “If you know the ball is going one way, push the guy across from you the opposite direction or get in his way. Our running backs will know what to do.”

Throughout my high school football career, I battled a lot of injuries, bullying from some of my teammates because I was injured all of the freshman season, where we were the first freshman in our school’s history to win a conference championship. My dad was right there along side of me as my #1 fan. Even though I didn’t get to play at all that season due to having to have bone removed from my foot, he was still at every single practice and game. My sophomore year was different. The head freshman football coach asked me to play down so I could get some playing time before I moved onto playing varsity my junior and senior years. I told him I would have to think about it and I talked to my dad and he said I should do it. So I told my coach that I would go ahead and play for the freshman team. He said to me, “Alright Bagg, I’m starting you at left tackle and nose guard. You’ll be playing both ways. Do you think you can handle that?” I told my coach, “You put us through conditioning drills for a reason coach. So yes I will be ready. I just hope I don’t let you down.”

So it’s game day, my first game that I was able to play in since I started high school football. We decided to kick the ball to start the half. So I had to go in on defense as the nose guard. The first play I busted through the line and sacked the quarterback. It was an exhilarating feeling. My first ever play on defense in my football career and I sacked the quarterback  for a loss of five yards. After that, they kept double teaming me and I had difficulty getting through the line. I didn’t sack the quarterback, but I got one of their running backs. My coach was so thrilled to see me play on defense, he took me out for a play or two so I could catch my breath so I could get in there on offense and block for our guys in the back field. First play on offense of my high school football career, I opened up a hole big enough you could fit a semi truck through it. Our running back was really fast, all he had to do was beat the opposing teams defensive backs and he was in for a touch down. My coach said that we’ll keep running that same play until it doesn’t work anymore. Well it worked for the whole game, but we still came up short and ended up tying the game. At the freshman level they wouldn’t let us go into over time so we had to settle for a tie.

My dad was at that game. When he picked me up from the locker room after we got back from the game he said, “You gave the team momentum in that game. You were unstoppable.” I just smiled and I said, “I was only doing what coached asked me to do.” My dad just smiled and laughed and said, “You played one hell of a game. I’m so proud of you.” That was the first time I heard my dad say he was proud of me. The second time was when I graduated from high school. And the last time I can remember hearing him tell me he was proud of me was when I got accepted into Central College. I just wish he was alive long enough to say it to my sister and I when she and I both graduate on May 14th, 2016. I know he’s going to have the best seat in the house, sitting right next to my sister and I.

To kind of fast forward to high school. I had struggled to perform well because I had surgery on both of my feet at the end of wrestling season, which, at the time, I had no idea I was going to have several surgeries to fix a birth defect in my feet. But none-the-less, I came back each season to play football. I had several concussions, twisted ankles, busted my shoulder and I always had bruises. But, by the time of the summer before my senior season, my head coach saw potential in me, he said, “Bagg, this is your year. What college do you want to go to?” I thought he was joking, so I said, “Ohio State coach!” He got a giggle and said, “Alright, I’ll give their scouts a call.” Well, sure as shit he did. But they didn’t give me an offer, they gave my back up an offer, because in one game I fumbled one snap where it was the quarterbacks fault because he called the play from the shotgun and I couldn’t feel his hands up under me, so I snapped it like we were in the shotgun. Right then and there, I knew my football career was going to end in our final game of my senior season. I would never put on those pads again and never again step under those lights on a Friday night.

You see, my dad was always there to watch me play football. He loved the game because it brought him back to some memories of when he watched football as a kid and when he played for the Indians, just like I did, when he was in high school. My senior year he was very disappointed in the coaching staff because I had made it to every single off season practice without being told I had to, I got up and went on my own. I was at every single practice during the season. Up until I got sick and had to miss three days of school, doctors orders. That season, I only wanted one thing out of it. To work my hardest to help my teammates try to get to the playoffs for a chance at going to state and winning the title. But most of all, I wanted to win the Iron Man award. It was the smallest of all the trophies I had ever received, but it meant the most. Because it was a personal achievement award, something that I could win for myself and not the team.

One day after school, Coach Avery called me into his office after the awards ceremony that had taken place a day or so before. He said, “Bagg, I’m really sorry you didn’t get the recognition you deserved during awards night to receive this trophy. But, I understand this means a lot to you.” I looked Coach Avery in the eye and said, “I didn’t care about the recognition coach, I just really worked hard to receive one. The recognition doesn’t mean anything to me.” He looked at me with confusion and asked me, “What do you mean?” I looked at the trophy and then back at him and said, “This is the only trophy I worked really hard for. Putting in extra practice at home, taking snaps with my dad after 2-a-days. I have a lot of bowling trophies where I won first place, wrestling medals that I took first place in a tournament or two. But this trophy means the most because not only was I making a commitment to myself to be hear day in and day out to help the team, I was doing something for myself. I know that might sound selfish, but I never do anything for myself. I always do for others and don’t expect any recognition for it.” He got teared up after I said that, walked around his desk and gave me a hug and said, “Bagg, I never had a player with as much heart as you to ever play for me. I’m going to miss coaching you.”

To some, Friday Night Lights is just a phrase you say before a Friday night game, or a title of a TV show or movie. To others, it’s what we dream of. Being able to go out under those lights on a Friday night and show the community what we’ve practiced all summer for, to prove that we are worthy of winning the state championship. To show the community that we can perform well in college as football players. To try to get to the big game. To play the game we love so much, until we no longer can. Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose!!!

It Angers Me

Alright everyone, I’m changing pace a bit. I’m gonna write a free verse poem. I hope you all like it.

It angers me that you once loved me. It angers me that you once cared. It angers me that you fell out of love with me so quickly. It angers me that I gave you my heart. You treated it like it was a piece of garbage. Something you could just throw away. It angers me that you found someone to be happy with. Anytime I think I’m happy with someone, they turn on me and act like I don’t even exist.

I fucking hate you. Why did you do this to me? How could you treat me the way you did? Why did you have to lie to me? I gave you everything I had. You ripped out my heart. Now there’s a hole where it used to be. I’ve been trying to fill that hole with alcohol, drugs, meaningless sex and food. Slowly killing myself without intentionally trying to. You fucked me up and my life is out of control.

You fucked me up so bad that I can’t even let myself love again. I don’t feel like I’m even worthy of being loved by anyone else. I’m petrified to let my guard down like I did with you. I’ve grown cynical. I’ve grown full of hate. I don’t know why I even care anymore. It’s been six years or more. You fucked me up, and it angers me. 

I saw you last Thanksgiving with him, and I thought I would die right then. It angered me to see you as happy as you once were with me, with him. It angers me that I tried to stay friends with you and you ignored me. When you broke off the engagement with him, you came crawling back to me. That was four years after you ended things with me. What made you think I would take you back after what you did to me? 

I think about you everyday. It’s what drives me to be a better person. It drives me to show you what you’re missing out on. When I’m a famous author, you’ll wish you never left me. But God had a different plan for me. He put you in my life for a reason. I don’t know what that reason is, but He did it to guide me in the right direction. I’m not going to let you control my life anymore. I tried to drink you away, but you’re not worth the whiskey. You’re not worth the hangovers. You’re not worth anything to me anymore. You are but a mere memory that I’m trying to kill inside my head. I’m exhausted from trying to get rid of your memory. I’m trying to get rid of the happy times we had together, because it makes me wish I had you back.

I’m done with you like you were done with me. I don’t want to think about you anymore. I wonder if you even think of me. You probably don’t because I meant nothing to you. I didn’t stop thinking about you because you were my world. I’m done trying. It angers me that I can’t get rid of you. The thought of you still haunts me. It angers me that I once mattered. Now I’m probably just some distant memory.