Back in 1981 going into my senior year of high school I learned a valuable, lifelong lesson that is applicable to everything I am doing today. My head football coach called it the BIG PUSH (BP), we called it insane, and we just knew he was crazy. After 30 years I am still convinced he was crazy, but I am also sure that the BP prepared me for any challenge I would face in my life.
We were a decent football team coming into that senior season, we had finished the previous year barely above .500 but we knew we had a bunch of committed, talented players who survived our junior season’s “house cleaning” process that this same coach took us through which resulted in only 25 players suiting up when most teams had 50 – 60 players.
The BIG PUSH was a combination of psychological and physical tearing down, house cleaning test of will for only the committed and insane. I am sure that the “axe handle” drill by itself would have had my coach arrested today. But I must say I am so grateful to Coach Watson even to this day for instilling in me the drive to set a goal and go after it, work my ass off trying to reach it, and no matter when any roadblock got in our way, to readjust or just go right thru it.
One example of the BIG PUSH was the day we all showed up to the field only to find over 500 yards of cones spread out over the entire practice and soccer field. At the end of the cones was a tackling dummy with our jersey over it and a helmet sitting on top. Coach gathered us all together and said “Today we are going to find out who will be going to battle with us and who will not.” He then said, “Wells, you are first.” I recoiled and asked “Why me?”, and when I think about his response now – though I did not realize it at the time – he gave me one of the highest compliments. With the straight matter-of-fact way that he spoke, he said “Because you won’t quit, you will die trying, and I know when your teammates see you make it they will believe they can, so they will not give up as well.
We all made it, and although we didn’t win CIF, we finished 10-2, and won some big games. But more importantly we helped turn a program around that has now gone on to win many championships, and most importantly we underwent the process that created lifelong winners who will never give up!