Murderous Two-a-Days

norman high

Other than war, there is nothing more traumatic, more hellish for a guy, than Two-A-Day football practices.

Especially in Oklahoma’s brutal August heat, like when I played at Norman High School from 1971-1973.

Back then as a tiny Tiger, my two-a-day breakfast consisted of a big glass of Gatorade, a piece of dry toast, and two Allerest tablets.

Anything more, and it would have come up during wind sprints. Anything less, and I would have died of heat stroke or hay fever.

I can still remember every practice starting with calisthenics, coaches screaming and blowing their whistles, followed by position drills.

Girly QBs

Dan Blevins and the other QBs would put on their pink dresses and go throw to the ends, before focusing their efforts on flirting with the cheerleaders.

The rest of us backs, linebackers and linemen would run drill after drill, smashing into each other, jumping over tackling dummies, slamming into the steel sled, and driving it back, back,back until, finally, the fat coach riding it would blow his whistle.

The drills were repeated again and again and again. Usually until somebody puked, which was the signal to then start running plays.

If you were as “scrub” like me (I wasn’t a starter until my senior year), you were on defense for an hour, facing wave after wave of 1st, 2nd and 3rd team offenses.  Think the Beaches of Normandy.

Then the scrubs would switch sides and try to run offensive plays against the first team defense which, in 1971, consisted of enormous mutant werewolves, or so it seemed at the time.

After about an hour of this, another couple of scrubs would have died of heat stroke or after being hit “right in the jewel box”.  Defensive coaches loved that. 

Filthy, Lifesaving Water

When we started dropping like flies because of dehydration and heat stroke, coaches would begrudgingly scream “water break”.

Dean and the cheerleaders would be whisked off to the “Tiger Lounge” (grandstand).  The rank in file would fight hand-to-hand to get the awful water out of the hoses.  Seniors first.  Juniors second.  Any surviving sophomores last.

Hose water was hot and tasted like a dead lizard, but you gulped down as much as you could in maybe five seconds, before being pushed away by the coach or a teammate. 

It was all done to make you tough. Or because some coaches were sadists. It was sure a different era.

The second half of most practices was when coaches really started to have their fun, “separating the men from the boys”, deciding who “had to squat to pee”, pointing out players who were just being “dooberables”. 

And the, after 1-2 hours of pain came the worst — wind sprints.  Up and down Harve Collins Field.

Your lungs would burn as you fought for fresh air, which was impossible, because in August, there is no fresh air in Oklahoma. 

Even though I was very quick, and reasonably fast, Blevins would always beat me in sprints, usually by several yards. It made me crazy.  All I’d see was his pink skirt flapping in the wind.  

Deathly Locker Room

After every practice, the NHS locker room looked like a bomb had gone off.  Bodies were sprawled everywhere in the dark.

Some were naked and lying motionless on the cool cement floor.  They were the lucky ones.

Others were crumpled on the bench, so dehydrated and concussed they couldn’t even remove their gear.

They would sit there, steam rising from their shoulder pads, as they tried to suck the sweat from their undershirts, which hadn’t been washed in a week and smelled just like ammonia.

Finally, after maybe half an hour, everyone had taken a shower, put on a T-shirt and shorts, and dragged themselves to their cars, which were about a thousand degrees inside. 

We’d go home, collapse for a few hours, then come back to do it all again.

THIS is how you were moulded into 4-A Boomer Conference Norman Tiger  football players in the early Seventies.

Looking back, I have no idea how we survived, or whatever happened to Dean’s pink dress. 


Editor’s note:  Dean didn’t really wear a pink dress — just a colored jersey so defensive players like me would NEVER hit him.  I hated that, but I knew it was wise. With Dean as our QB, we thought we could win State.  He was just that good. 

One Response to “Murderous Two-a-Days”

  1. Lillian L.. says:

    Garf, indeed!

    BTW, the “pink dress” guy had hip replacement surgery this past year.

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