Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Inspiration: Part 2

This is part 2 of the story. To catch it from the beginning, please start at part 1.

Until this point, his school had been an embarrassment on the football field. In a rural region of the Deep South, your county had to have a good football team to be respectable. Your town may be shrinking, your jobs may be drying up, your schools may never meet the state average on standardized tests, but you should at least be able to field a proper high school football team. Jonathan's school, sadly, had been unable to field a winning team in decades. Oddly, at least to the local populace suffering from dramatic irony in this story, the local team made a dramatic recovery during Jonathan's sophomore year. There was no real explanation for the turnaround for those not in the know about Jonathan's unique ability. This was still a young team; most players quit before their senior year, burned out by the constant flow of losses. The same defeat-minded coach was still in charge and none of last year's players had shown any real promise.

In fact, Jonathan himself did not show any obvious signs of being the cause of a turnaround. He turned into one of those high school athletes who always clean up the leadership trophies at the end-of-the-year awards banquets, but never see a lot of playing time during the season. He cajoled, pushed, and pulled his team to a state championship, but never set cleat inbounds except during garbage time in the fourth quarters of blow outs. He was the first one on the field at practice and the last one off, always challenging the other players to practice as hard, as intensely, as he did.

That still didn't really explain to the average fan why the undersized offensive line suddenly started manhandling defensive linemen twice their size or why that stud running back who'd never played a game in three years because of poor grades suddenly learned to read and turned into a straight-A student. Fans would remark sometime around the midpoint of the season when they started to believe these new wins weren't just a fluke that maybe this running back had always been this good and maybe he'd finally just decided to grow up and make something of himself. By the end of the season they were positive this great back was the reason for the team's turn around. Jonathan contentedly worked in the background, happy to be a part of a winning team.

Still, while Jonathan played the part of the student leader, nothing about his actions would differentiate him from any of the countless other teens each year who lead their fellow players by their actions and earn the respect of their team mates despite not having the physical abilities of others. Jonathan's true leadership ability was largely an undetectable strength.

Jonathan led from behind a high school sports dynasty for the next three years. The state championship became the expected outcome of a season. Morale improved and the team grew in size until the sideline was filled with a mass of padded boys every Friday night. Jonathan couldn't stay in high school forever, though. In fact, he never failed a class, so his time in school was actually quite brief compared to that of many of his comrades. His absence from the school didn't send its football team back into the gutters, however. His work had caused being a member of his beloved team to be a goal for many talented children and the sudden success had reinvigorated the previously downtrodden coach. After Jonathan's departure, the team never returned to quite the same level of dominance, but they remained able, through their own inspiration, to fight deep into the playoffs every year.

Jonathan had awoken something in this town that had been dead for a while, although he didn't realize it. He just knew that he'd been a part of a winning team, and, while no one else knew just quite the extent of his involvement, he knew that his part was large enough to satisfy him. He moved on to college hoping that the nightlife was just as vibrant and debaucherous as he'd been led to believe.

To be continued...


Chris said...

Good to see the inspiration lived on after the inspirer left.


Mickey said...

I don't really like the name Jordan anyway.