Saturday, September 5, 2009

Take A Lap ... Make it Wide!

Forier High School had three coaches that ran the sports program: Mook Clavier (Cluh-veah), Coach Didier (Did-e-yay), and Stanley Richard (Reee-shad). For purposes of this writing, I'll focus on Coach Richard. Richard was my coach for the majority of the time I was in school and one of the most colorful characters I have ever known.

He was shorter than the rest ... about 5'8" and built like Mr. Universe (he was actually Mr. New Orleans one year, I believe). He also had a speech impediment that could have been caused by his missing upper dental plate or the apparent head trauma that must have plagued him when he played sports as a youngster.

Every day, before cleass we would have roll call. Coach Richard could not pronounce any names correctly and his ability to maintain information was limited .... so he spelled them out. My friend Wayne's last name was Lassen (which he pronounced "Layyy-Thun"), I was "Mum-boig" and two guys who were named Schmidt and Smith were both called "Smitt". Whe he called out their names it was always: "Smitt"! "S-C-H-M-I-D-T" ... "Smitt"! "S-M-I-T-H".

We had regular PE workouts which meant running laps ... lots of laps. The elaborate equipment we used for this consisted of empty wooden soft drink crates that cornered the dirt track. From the coach's office that overlooked the field, Coach Richard would yell into the microphone ... the one probably used today in Mc Donald's Drive Thrus ... in the most garbled tone you can imagine. We never knew just what he was saying but after years of careful traslation we think it was: "OKAY ... EVERYONE ... TAKE A LAP ... MAKE IT WIDE .... FIVE TIMES AROUND THE COKE CASES" (or , "otayebryuntakalapmayitwhydfitisarounddacokecattheth").

I also remember a health class we took with Coach one day in which there was a movie about drunk driving. It was one of those sappy dramatizations that was probably shot 20 years earlier and had Eddie Haskell lines like "Gee, Mr. Smith, I don't know what had come over me when I could not retain control of my vehicle." You know ... stuff all kids say. Well, in the film, the lead teenager gets killed in a crash while drinking and comes back as a ghost to see what has happened to his family after his death. After about a half hour or so of watching the "ghost", Coach Richard stood up and turned off the projector. He flipped on the lights and said, "I WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW THAT THE BOY IS DEAD ... THEY CANNOT SEE HIM."

He turned on the projector, everyone thanked the coach for his insight and we watched the rest of the show.

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