Sometimes, you just have to 'move the drill'.

 

"The Fall of 2013" Book Excerpt

SOMETIMES, YOU JUST HAVE TO 'MOVE THE DRILL'

Text Box:  
Head Coach Don James
Circa: 1985

In the fall of 1981, during my first season as a Washington Husky Football player--I had several memorable life experiences which stuck with me.  Don James and his staff often used motivational quotes and affirmations to instill confidence in us, and to give players a perspective of the big picture--in both football and in life.  Some of the more memorable ones were; "If you know better, you should do better" (Abner Thomas), "Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves (Jim Lambright), and "Special Teams, the Winning Edge--I am the difference" (T-shirts that DJ had made and gave out to Special Teams Players).  But the one that stands out the most for me is, "Move the damn drill!"

Text Box:  
OLB Fred Small and the author, after the Husky Spring Football Game.
Circa: May 1983
I first heard this quote on an October afternoon my freshman year.  During our practice, Coach James often watched from atop a 50 foot scaffold tower that he had erected to observe practice, it was a methodology used by Bear Bryant at Alabama--and many coaches across the country considered anything 'The Bear' did as football gospel.  We were doing agilities with our position coach Trent Walters, and one of the guys twisted his knee and hit the ground in pain. We were all standing around sympathetically, while we waited for the trainers to jog over.  DJ (Don James for those of you non college football historians-- keeping score at home) immediately climbed down the tower and rushed over to our group to check on the injured player and get practice moving again.  He walked up to our group, had a word with the trainers and immediately yelled; "Hell men, let's get back to work.  Move the damn drill!"  In that instant he seemed just as concerned about maintaining the practice schedule as he was about his injured player.  I was taken aback at first by his perceived insensitivity about the injured player, and it would not be until later in my career that I came to appreciate his thought process.  The concept was simple, "You could not allow anyone or anything to be bigger or more important than the needs of the team".

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Dad, Chad, Matthew and Ross- Santa Monica Stairs.
Circa: Summer 2014
 "BIG TEAM, little me" was a phrase they actually put on t-shirts for us the following season in order to hammer that point home.

Fast forward to 2014, and I have been writing regular post on my FB page and my Blog at fathermag.com with regards to the challenges of dealing with a racially/gender biased court system, coupled with the challenges of single parenting three boys on weekends.  I have so much I need to teach them and often feel as though we don't have enough time together, in order to achieve the goals I have set out to accomplish as a father.  For me, it's all about my legacy--what lessons and skills can I impart on them Text Box:  
Dad and MTS at Universal Studios
Circa: August 2014
that will last long after my physical presence is gone.

After one post entitled "The Devil at 6 o'clock", my UW teammate Bob Waskom helped me shift my paradigm to a more positive and energetic place--by reminding me of those lessons from DJ.  He posted, "You are a good man and a good father, keep your chin up. Sometimes you just have to Move the Drill!" 

Those three words of inspiration (move the drill) resonated with me, and have helped me optimistically revise and modify our weekend schedule to have more balance; with the goal being to maximize the development of MTS (my three sons)--and to do so without feeling any guilt about our current situation.  Weekly therapy sessions and encouragement from other teammates (thank you Gary Hyatt and Darren Witcher) have also been a tremendous help as well.

Since that time, I have approached my weekend parenting with a renewed purpose and zest for living. In spite of the emotional highs and lows that go with 48 hour visits, on various weekends we have managed to engage in a wide variety of activities including but not limited to:  a focus on service (visiting the elderly in our family), individual and group learning, individual one on one time with dad for each child, movie nights, building and construction, workshop repair time, core workout and cardio time, model train building, field trips and entrepreneurial business development.   Amidst all of this, they still have a few hours a weekend for downtime and video games.  I realized that I had to approach it with same curriculum planning that goes into my teaching at the high school level, the only difference is that 'these students' will carry not just my teachings--but my heritage into eternity.  Thus the stakes are a little bit higher than normal, and failure is simply not an option.

The first thing we do as a group on Friday nights is sit down and go over our goals and schedule for the weekend.   All of the boys get input, and I mesh their desires with whatever priorities we need to address.  Then we go out over the next two days and execute our intentions within this "compressed plan of quality life experiences" as best we can, often reaching a blissful state of timelessness.  This bliss goes beyond words and the understanding of your ego, in that one must experience it without consciously thinking "I am experiencing joy and bliss", because once you apply logic to it--it dissipates like smoke.  To fully experience it, you Text Box:  
Chad and Matthew in our Garage Classroom.
Circa: Aug 2014
must simply surrender to the moment and think of nothing else--because that moment is all that matters.   Once the conscious mind gets involved--it is then that( in what seems like the blink of an eye), Sunday evening seems to creep up on us--and it is time to take the boys back to meet their mom at the dreaded police station.

Last Sunday as I drove home from dropping them off to a darkened fall sky, I put on my headphones and listened to Earth, Wind and Fire ('Keep your Head to the Sky'), which also happens to be my son Matthew's birth song--that I played on the way to the hospital on the day of his birth.  Their words of wisdom kept echoing in my mind:

"Must have told me one day, I'd find peace in every way...

But in search for the clue, wrong things I was bound to do...

Keep my head--- to the sky... For the clouds to tell me why...

As I grew, and with strength... must have kept me as I repent..

And he said--Keep your Head to the Sky"...

I reflected on how our weekends have evolved over the past 12 months--and how they continue to evolve as we grow together; in spirit, mind and body.  I thought about their growth and development, and the knowledge they have demonstrated to me during our time together.  A smile crept slowly crept across my face, reflecting my pride and satisfaction at the