Last Thursday we played Narbonne High School. For me it was my final time to face them on the football field, but that Thursday marked one more milestone in my lackluster football career. It was the last time I will ever play in Tom Bradley Stadium. I have a lot of memories in Tom Bradley Stadium. I guess over three years one tends to accrue a lot memories, some good, some bad, some just reminding you of how it used to be.
Tom Bradley Stadium was built in the early Eighties when Los Angeles was selected to host the Olympics. It was built at Birmingham High School as a place for the athletes to train. Birmingham was chosen because it had a large campus and plenty of room to put in a new stadium with a brand-spankin’-new rubber track and modern facilities. It was named after the Mayor of Los Angeles at the time, Tom Bradley, who was instrumental in allocating the funds for the project and providing the initial oomph in getting it started. But anyway, I digress.
It was in Tom Bradley Stadium that I suffered my first loss on our Junior Varsity as a Sophomore. Not only was it my first loss, but it was also my first football game, ever. It was in Tom Bradley Stadium that I made so many great memories practicing and playing with my teammates on the 2004 Varsity team, who after long hours of hard work won the Los Angeles City Championship. It was in Tom Bradley Stadium that I ran a 26-second 200-meter dash. Not great, but for a guy who weighed 215 pounds and used to run it in 35 seconds, it was quite an accomplishment. It was in Tom Bradley Stadium that I worked and sweated over the off-season so that I could play a lot my senior year. Tom Bradley Stadium has a lot of sentimental value to me. Soemtimes, when I close my eyes, I can picture myself on the field; making big blocks and devastating tackles. I can see myself recovering a fumble and returning it for a touchdown. I can hear the crowd and I can smell the smoke from the grill by the concession stand. I can feel the grass under my cleats and I can smell the stink of my sweat and shoulder pads. I can hear the screams from my brothers and my enemies. I can hear the hits being delivered. And when I open my eyes I wish I was there. I wish I could be a star player. I wish for once, I could start. I just wish I could get off of these damned sidelines more. But I know, that as far as my High School career is concerned, that will never happen.
But God, will I miss it. I’ll miss the roars and cheers of the crowd. I’ll miss the sound of the band. I’ll miss the rush from the fact that 2000-plus people showed-up just to come and watch me and my teammates. And to win! Oh, to soar to innumerable heights, to climb the tallest mountains, to feel like your are invincible. Oh, sweet victory. And to lose. To be crushed in utter defeat. To drop to the lowest lows, to feel insignificant and unworthy of even the slightest happiness. And then to climb back onto that proverbial horse and exact some kind of vengeance on your next opponent. Oh, how I will miss this. I will miss this way of life so much. It is truly something special.
And to know that it will all be ending soon, oh if only I had just a little more time. But it will only leave me lusting after more, and I will never be satisfied. But I do have the advice of our Quarterback from 2004, Andrew Miramontes, who told me one day, while waxing nostalgic, to “Enjoy it while it last, ’cause it doesn’t last long, and it’ll be over be fore you know it.” So, that is how I will spend my final moments of High School Football. I will make the most of it. And dear reader, is that not all that we can do in life. We must enjoy it while it lasts, because one day, it will all be over.