by Andy Weddington
Thursday, 15 December 2016
Victory is remembered for at most two decades; an act of sportsmanship is remembered for a lifetime. Simon Nguyen
Buckner and Kepley.
Sounds like it could be a law practice partnership.
Or maybe doctors.
Pal Buckner and Mack Kepley were a couple of men from my youth.
Yesterday, amidst all the post-election noise trying to delegitimize President-elect Trump, their faces and names, not having thought of either in decades, came to me.
Pal Buckner was my first little league football coach.
Coach Buckner was a good coach.
But what I remember most about him was his patience and enthusiasm teaching kids how to play and work together.
His face expressive and he wore emotion on his sleeve - smiling and laughing a lot and sometimes a quick-to-pass grimace or other pained look if something went amiss.
Not a great team, we lost as many as we won.
Coach was a gracious winner.
Coach was a gracious loser.
Practice after a loss focused on improving our team not on smearing other teams.
Coach taught sportsmanship.
As the next season neared, Coach Buckner called and said he'd be coaching as an assistant to Coach Mack Kepley and asked that I come play for the team SABC (Salvation Army Boys Club).
He said my old teammates, those still eligible, would be joining and it looked good for a strong team.
Of course, to play for Coach Buckner.
Coach Kepley was, too, a good coach. Patient. Enthusiastic. He was older and a different personality than Coach Buckner.
They were a great team.
And they coached what became a great team.
Wins came. We beat North Park; Elks; Graham IPFAY; CWA; et al.
Practices after wins were still challenging and focused on improving.
And then we lost.
A good team called the Down Towners beat us - on a long touchdown run, a reverse, by a kid who later became a friend.
6 - 0.
That loss hurt.
Coaches Kepley and Buckner led the way after the game - shaking hands and congratulating the Down Towners.
Those lessons have endured - grace in victory, and grace in defeat.
It's been 50 years, that one play is as vivid in memory as if it happened last evening. Defensive end on the opposite side of the play, I still remember the feeling of not being able to stop the inevitable seeing the ballcarrier run the sideline.
More vivid in memory is how our coaches handled themselves and, by example, taught the young men under their charge.
If memory correct, SABC (colors red and white) finished 8-1. A great team!
But the wins and loss, as important as they were at the time to youngsters, did not endure as most important.
Those first two years of football were the foundation for shaping sportsmanship - for life.
Those - politicians, progressives, pundits, peons, peoples of sundry ilk - today making all the noise about Mr. Trump are not sportsmen.
Still they angrily cite Deplorables to Russians as responsible for Mrs. Clinton's loss.
Excuses. Excuses. Excuses.
The election is over. Done.
Recounts a flop.
Bizarre accusations farce and fantasy.
And may as well blame the dog for eating their homework.
The fact is the Democrats got beat on a reverse - to the right - by Americans sick and tired of going left.
Shut up. Shake hands - with a smile and congratulatory word - while looking the victors in they eye. And focus practice on improving your team. There's a big game in four years.
When a captain, home on leave, my Dad and I ran into the man who coached CWA. What I did not know in the day but learned that evening was he was a Marine - an infantryman during World War II. Now that made sense. We connected, of course, and had quite an interesting conversation. I remember his tough demeanor and reputation - every kid knew Coach Luggi. But, too, I remember he practiced and taught sportsmanship.