First Person:
Locker Room Talk

by Charles Creel

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    My high school football team was playing for the North Carolina state championship. Our coach, Bill Grice, was not only a great coach and motivator, but he had never, in our presence, taken the Lord’s name in vain; had never cussed; and had never used any expletives or profanity. He had never lost his cool.

    We were in the locker room getting ready for the big game. It was raining so hard we had to yell at each other to be heard. Coach Grice asked our equipment manager to hand out the mud cleats. We heard the equipment manager say, “I forgot the mud cleats, coach.” But Coach Grice didn’t hear him. We nudged one another and realized that for the first time in our presence, Coach Grice would in fact lose his cool and swear.

    We steadied ourselves as Coach Grice asked, “Where are the mud cleats?”

    “I forgot them, coach,” repeated the equipment manager.

    It became absolutely silent in the room except for the rain pounding on the roof.

    Then Coach Grice said, “Well, shucks, we’ll have to play without them!”

    Oh, coach, how proud we were! We tied the football game and lost the state championship on the flip of a coin. But we won the most important honor. Our coach didn’t let us down.

    Illustrated by Douglas M. Fryer