I'm afraid I haven't been completely honest with all of you. As much as I love the author photo posted on this site, it was taken at least fifteen years ago. For various reasons, I've never gotten around to getting a new one. But as it becomes clear that I am an older and more grizzled version of that guy, I'm not just going to leap blindly into the world of author photos.
I'm up in Mammoth with my team this week. The weather is pitch perfect and so far there hasn't been a forest fire to destroy air quality. Being a coach in the modern age means a list of duties and obligations my high school and college coaches would never have dreamed of adding to their to-do lists.
I'm waiting for my wife to get her nails done. Thankfully, the Laguna Beach Brewing Company is just across the parking lot from the salon. So here I sit on a picnic table outside, "A Town Called Malice" — one of the great underrated 80s songs — playing on the outdoor speaker system. Today, it's an ironic term in that I feel anything but malice in this special town I call home. . . .
I won my bracket. . . . Thanks to an iffy last-minute foul — and a non-call — I win. As champion, our punishment is that the loser now has to chug a six-pack of the beer of my choosing. Our group numbers several grown men who have achieved considerable success in a wide variety of fields, [b]ut when it came time to select a penalty for losing the bracket, we all resorted to the residue of our college days.
I took the team to Mammoth last month. We've gone every year since 2006 for a week of high altitude training. It's medieval the way I push the kids, running twice a day for a week on mountain trails that are never flat, and in fact always seem to go uphill. For the seniors it's a getaway they look forward to all year, second only to our Hawaii trip in terms of getting away from parental supervision and hanging out with friends. But it's not so easy for the freshmen.
. . . I had never given goats much thought, but I found myself wondering if maybe raising a few competitive goats would be a nice pastime. They looked cute enough, and it seemed like there wouldn't be much to it. But as with all new endeavors, you don't know what you don't know. What seemed simple on the surface would become an obsession. I like to win. I'm not embarrassed to say it. And all-consuming passion is very often what it takes to win.
It is only July, and yet I am already feeling the nerves of November. My cross country team just finished its fourth week of training. These summer workouts are when the championships of autumn are won. I normally coast through summer, cursing the twelve weeks between the first day of training and our first September meet. But this season is different.