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Gym of Dreams: Mike
|Today is the first game of Mike’s senior year. Over the past summer, together we’ve packed about 100lbs of muscle on the three of us. Armstrong and I’ve gained about 30lbs and Mike gained a little over 40. His frame has bulked up a bit, but he still has the ripped, athletic look to him. We’re proud of his gains and we tell him so constantly. He’s proud of himself, but he’s still humble and polite. He opens doors for ladies, helps his mother with the groceries, says ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’, calls adults ‘Sir’ and ‘Ma’am’ and just recently, he picked up his father in a bear hug, something he’s wanted to do for a while now. Armstrong, his father, and I beam with pride as we see how good of a young man Big Mike has become.
The three of us stood near the sidelines, watching Mike sit on the bench. The national anthem had just played and the captains had just got back from the coin flip. Mike was one of them, being the head of the defense now. The opposing team had won the flip and chose to receive the ball. Mike was sitting down composing himself as we taught him, preparing to release the torrent of rage and power that he holds. The kick is high, and the receiver catches it at the 20 yard line. He returns the ball back about 20 yards and is tackled at the 39. It’s time for the defense to perform. Mike stands up, turns around and places his helmet on his head. He trots to the field and heads to the huddle. They break and line up, Mike being on the right side. The opposing offense lines up while the quarterback slowly walks towards the center. Then Mike looks at him. With a voice that had more fury than a train wreck and overflowing with primal rage, Mike tilts his head back roars tremendously. It echoes throughout the stadium, drowning out the activity on the field, the chatter in the stand and even the blaring of the two large bands. After his feat of primal fury, you could hear a pin drop, a breeze blow or a blade of grass move. His opponents, their fans, his teammates and the fans stood in awe of this avatar of ferocity before them. The three of us could do nothing but smile. After what seemed to be an eternity, the quarterback slowly counts off the hike. He snapped the ball and Mike plows through two of the offensive linemen. The quarterback steps back a few paces for what seems to be a throw as Mike tosses the next person aside. The quarterback turns toward Mike, and froze like a deer in headlights at the sight of this unstoppable tank barreling towards him. Mike lowers his head slightly, placed his hands up towards the quarterback’s chest and careens into him. As the quarterback fell backwards from the force of Mike’s impact, his grip on the ball slipped and the pigskin became free. Mike’s hands slowly drifted toward the free ball. Slamming the quarterback into the ground with a large portion of his mass, Mike completes a forward flip, plucking the ball from the air before it could hit the ground. Like a panther pouncing from a tree to attack its prey, Mike lands on his feet with the agility of a gymnast without stopping his forward momentum. He sprints towards the goal line and scores a touchdown before the other linemen could even get pass their fallen leader.
Mike tosses the ball to the ref and trots back to the sidelines. He’s getting so many cheers from the crowd I can barely hear myself think. Mike walks up to us and mouths “How was that guys?” and we all give him a huge thumbs up. They score the extra point and Mike walks to get some Gatorade real quick before he’s on the field again. A gentleman walks down near us and says, “That kid is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
“Yeah, that’s Big Mike,” Armstrong says.
“I’m so proud of my son, he’s easily gonna break my record this year,” his dad beams.
“So that’s your son?” the gentleman inquires.
“Yeah he is.”
“Well, I’m a scout for State University. Some of my players told me about him in the gym, but nothing about how he was on the field. He’s really amazing!”
“It’s all thanks to these two guys.”
“I’d like to shake your hands. You are excellent coaches if you taught him all that.”
Armstrong and I shake his hands and smile. We turn back to see Mike running on the field with the same confidence he’s had for years now and the offense almost trembling in fear. A few moments later, Mike has the ball again and has scored another touchdown. Even with them double covering him, he plowed through them, injuring one of them in the process.
This display continues well pass the half, with their offense slowly losing people to injury as they try to keep Mike down. The coach tells Mike to rest, seeing as how they’re up 63-0, mostly in part to Mike’s defensive display. Mike walks over to us and we pat him on the pads and tell him how well he was doing. His dad beams with pride as he introduces Calvin the scout from State U. Calvin goes through telling him how he’s never seen anything like it before and how he’s not even tired after destroying what seems to be the entire starting offense. Mike laughs and says, “These two right here put me through stuff a hell of a lot tougher than that for the past few years. This is child’s play compared to running into this brick wall that I call Armstrong.” Armstrong laughs as he jabs Mike’s shoulder, “I can see why so many of their guys are scared of you now. If you’re hitting them as hard as you hit me, I’m not sure anyone will want to play against you!”
We chat some more and the game ends 70-7. Mike tells his dad that he’s going to hang out with us and meet with the scout tomorrow with us in tow. We smile at Mike a smile that says what Armstrong and I are thinking.
“Boy oh boy do we have a celebration lined up for you tonight.”
Mike smiles back and I can almost hear his jock strap ripping from anticipation.
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