By Kay Stout
, owner and career coach, Kay Stout Leadership Consulting

boy playing football
Photo by Pixabay on

Part I:

Years ago, my youngest son had the privilege of being “looked at” at by a Big Eight Football Conference team. After one particularly frustrating loss, the college coach yanked two players off the field, grabbed their facemasks and “whumped” their heads together. And they took it and then sat on the bench.

While driving home, I asked my son, “Would you have taken the head banging those two players did?”

He said, “Yes.”

I asked “Why?”

My son then looked at me as only a teenager can look at a mother and said, “Mom, I want to play the game.”

We drove on a little further.

“You are one of the starting pitchers for the baseball team, a forward on the soccer team and you swim on the relay team in addition to playing football,” I said. “You go to each practice every afternoon. Do you ever have trouble making the switch from one sport to the next and responding to the different coaches?” 

Again, that same teenage look as he said, “Mom, I just play by the rules.”

The light bulb came on in my head.


The summer before your sophomore year, unless you have a job, you sleep until noon after staying up almost all night. In general, you enjoy life to the fullest (or as much as your parents will allow).

By August (when it is hot) you have Two-A-Days. You get up at 6 a.m. to be at the field house by 6:30 a.m. You work out (that is right, the word work is now a part of your vocabulary) for up to three hours. You run in the early morning heat. You come home, eat, sleep and eat again before going back for the afternoon session. By now it is hot, and you are on the football field (no trees, no shade, running plays, running suicides and in general running).

Why? Because you want to make the team and be a Panther, Patriot, Bear, Bobcat, Chanticleer or Coyote.

You willingly wear:

  • Tight Pants
  • Cleated Shoes
  • Huge Shoulder Pads                          
  • Funny-looking Hard Hat with a chinstrap and grate in front of your eyes for the privilege of playing in all kinds of weather – they never cancel a game unless the opposing team and referees cannot get there because of bad weather.

You line up across from someone with the mission of taking them out before they take you out. Quarterbacks sit back in the pocket with nerves of steel to throw a ball at a moving target somewhere downfield while an entire army is headed in their direction to put them out-of-action.

Receivers run like the wind, dodge the defense and pray they will look back over their shoulder at that magical right moment when the ball will appear from the sky. All of this is accomplished without missing a beat because there are four big guys closing in on them.

If your team wins more games than anyone else in your division, there is a team trophy that goes in the high school trophy case. You get a school letter to put on a jacket that you treasure and wear every day until you start college. It will then gather dust in your closet at home where a sentimental Mom will often look at it and remember the good old’ days.

You tell everyone that playing football is worth it! You are right, it is!

Part II of STOUT STUFF will be available on Monday. Checkback on our social media channels or at my blog at on my website:

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