Juggling in Jackson

Friday the 19th threw me off, that’s for sure. For the first Friday night since before the 24th of August, football pads weren’t strapped to my shoulders. This was because two days prior, my bell was rung, my cranium was clobbered, my clock was stopped; in other words, I got a concussion. So as my teammates loaded the Jackson, Missouri bound charter bus with their heavy equipment on Friday afternoon, I boarded with a much lighter load: my phone, a suitcase, and plenty of baked chips.

After a comfortable three hour drive and at least eight bags of chips later, we arrived in Jackson. As I entered the stadium, dressed in jeans and my jersey, I instantly took a liking to the “small town-big game” feel that was all through the air. Practically the whole town was there — heck, there were members of the varsity team from 60 years ago in the stands, and I’m not kidding. Spectators’ conversations are much more audible without a helmet on.

Anyway, to my point. While the small town atmosphere was incredible, I still was in desperate need of something to entertain me as I watched my team prepare. Well out of all the things I could have chosen to do, I picked the most productive: I tried teaching myself to juggle. I didn’t have any bowling balls or chain saws, so I just juggled Hot Hands — you know, those little rectangular packets that get hot when you shake them? Well yeah, three of those. It didn’t go well.

I must have overestimated my hand eye coordination, because when I say it didn’t go well, I mean I was expecting the Jacksonians in the crowd to start hurling their food, trash, and small children at me if I didn’t stop my horrible show. It was ridiculously frustrating: I’d throw the first up, but suddenly my brain would jam like a poorly-oiled (concussed) machine. I’d catch it, but the rest of the hand warmers would soon fall to the grass below. After a few minutes of persistence, I gave up. A career as a clown just wasn’t in the books for me.

So following that depressing realization, I watched the game. While we were down at halftime, a comeback victory seemed well within our grasp. As we all returned to the locker room, I decided to give juggling one more shot. Surprisingly, I was able to get more of a grasp on it; however, that isn’t saying much. I’d get it down for a split second, and then they’d all fall to the concrete floor with a crunch. Just then, my fellow teammate Jeremy Karp said something that struck me.

“It’s funny, half the time you’ll drop the ones that you didn’t even throw up in the air.”

Without even trying, he managed to describe my senior year so far in a nutshell.

Throughout the year, I’ve been attempting to juggle, just metaphorically. If you’ll recall my second blog, I even stated that I’ll be attempting “to juggle the papers and the pigskin.” My attempt has been so stressful that I’ve lost sight that I was doing it in the first place, actually. Let me explain how these things relate.

When I’d throw up one Hot Hand, I’d lose sight of the packets not currently on my mind: the ones still in my hand. As I’d catch the airborne hand warmer, concerned with keeping it in the cycle, the other two would leave my mind and crash down. Unknowingly, I let them fall out of mind due to my negligence.

Football, for me, has been like the airborne Hot Hand. I’ve been throwing it up, throwing it up, throwing it up, and while I keep catching it, other aspects of my life have fallen out of my mind. I never intended for that to happen, and I regret letting it get that way.

Homework has been a neglected piece to that juggling cycle, no doubt about it. And unfortunately, so have some of the people that are nearest to me. Whose fault is that? Mine, no doubt. To anyone who that has affected, I’m truly sorry. I guess it only took one comment by a fellow teammate for me to realize that.

In spite of this, I loved the Jackson trip. I love my team, and I loved the whole football experience. In fact, my next blog will be solely dedicated to just that. However, I did learn two valuable lessons that needed to be learned. One, don’t get too absorbed in one aspect of your life, or the other things that you hold dear will fall by the wayside. And two… don’t juggle with a concussion.

See you Wednesday, guys.