It was late on a Thursday afternoon when Johnathan “The Bulldozer” Campbell, Clinton’s all-star linebacker, showed up to an after-school girl’s soccer practice. He seemed to be convinced that he was actually at football practice, despite the coach repeatedly telling him otherwise. Eventually Clinton’s offensive coordinator showed up in a Mazda Miata and drove the befuddled linebacker back to his own practice.
The incident was only the latest in a growing streak of confused football players showing up at the wrong practices.
“I just can’t fathom why this keeps happening,” said Corinna Strauss, Clinton’s assistant girl’s soccer coach. “For some of them, it’s become a daily thing. They show up here every day. It’s like when you feed a cat and it keeps coming back. I just don’t know what to do with them.”
Not all the coaches affected by the bewildering occurrence have been as exasperated by it as Mrs. Strauss. Stephen Proust, the cross-country coach at Anderson County, says he’s mostly had confused running backs at his own practices. In fact, he has refused to give back two of them to the football program, saying that they’re cross-country athletes now.
“They’re not so bad. We just give them a ball and a helmet and stand on the side of the course like we’re gonna tackle them. The hardest part is keeping them on the course, but we’re fixing that slowly. They’re so fast, they’ve actually really padded our stats.”
He has had to share some of the players with the track and field team, but says he doesn’t mind.
It seems to be mostly the heavier hitting players showing up at the practices, with quarterbacks and kickers rarely having such problems. Rick Gains, the golf coach at Anderson County, has gotten a few as well. He’s been trying to teach them to play golf.
“Best caddies I’ve ever had,” said Gains happily.
Clinton football’s head coach, Mark Ruffalio, believes the problem lies in discipline.
“They’re not getting enough discipline. We’re going way too easy on these kids nowadays and I think it really shows,” said Ruffalio, chewing on a salt tablet. “Back in my day, we didn’t have these problems. We just uh – we – uh –“
“We did something. Now, what did we do?”
Some coaches of Spring sports have already started planning how to get their own concussed football players.
“I got a couple of them last year, so now I’ve been putting up flyers saying spring football practice is at the softball field,” said Marcus Downs, Clinton’s softball coach. “I’m sure the principal will make me take them down eventually, but I’m hoping that it will still get a few of them.”
“I know we had that incident with the bat and that girl’s still recovering, but I really think, with the right coaching, we can make those guys into some great softball players.”
As for linebacker John Campbell, coach Corinna Strauss has decided to make the best of the situation.
“When life gives you lemons,” she said resignedly.
Johnathan “The Bulldozer” Campbell, dressed in soccer cleats and an XXXXL girl’s soccer jersey, agreed.
“I’m just really excited to be out here playin’ football,” he said happily.