My short time as a college football equipment manager
I'm usually the butt of jokes, and not easily offended. Unlike most people, my awkward middle school years lasted into adulthood. Allow me to paint the picture for you before moving on to the actual embarrassing part of the story. You may not know the difference otherwise.
In 5th grade, I sported a chin-length bob. Not unusual except that it was more of a mullet because the 80s bangs only left room for the back of my hair to measure at the chin. That is a pretty enough picture, but I get to add in the fact that it was also permed. Between that and the semi-truck-sized gap between my front teeth, I was a certified looker.
I did get braces around 7th grade which turned the appeal factor up to ten. In the 80s and 90s, neon was all the rage so you can splash a little of that onto the canvas in your mind too. Oh, and I borrowed my mom's clothes-a lot. Could I get any hotter? Hold my beer.
When 9th grade came, I was determined to find my own style, which led me straight to JNCO jeans just like everyone else. By now, my frizzy hair had grown out to a little below shoulder length, my eyebrow-yes, just the one (because I hadn't quite realized that there were supposed to be two)looked like one of the fuzzy caterpillars that we use to determine whether winter is coming early or not. Still, I didn't see myself as anything but normal. Thanks, mom.
My junior year brought new hope in the form of a boy asking me to my first ever Homecoming dance. We went as friends and he promptly ditched me for his crew to sneak outside to smoke cigarettes and drink from flasks. I sat with my friends and only danced within groups.
Senior year was MY YEAR. That's what I'd decided at the start. I was wearing clothes that didn't make people want to cringe so much, my hair was almost tamed and hey, I figured out that brow waxing existed. I started joining clubs and teams. Not the participation in actual sports-type of teams but I'd signed up to be a football manager. In general, I hauled equipment and followed behind our defensive line coach, with a clipboard, writing down the plays he'd called and making sure he didn't entangle himself in the 900 ft cord attached to his headphone/microphone set. I was the proverbial shit.
That led me to a scholarship for college, believe it or not. And, I was able to talk the athletic program into a work-study so I could get paid to wash jerseys! It's fine, you can just call me the queen.
I was riding on my high horse, living my best life as a freshman at a podunk college in Nowheresville, and I loved it. I traveled with the team and did my best to flirt with the kicker because he was the only one not practicing most of the time. He wasn't very good-looking but, if I'm honest, neither was I. At this point, I'd cut my hair into one of those super trendy pixie cuts of the late 90s. I still didn't wear makeup so the only thing that really distinguished me from the guys was my flared jeans and the occasional ruffled shirt. The lack of shoulder pads or a helmet on the field helped a little unless I was standing next to the kicker.
Here's where it gets good.
One day at practice, the offense was on the upper practice field and the defense on the lower. My job was to move between the two to be sure all the coaches and players had what they needed. I was running at least half a mile every 30 minutes or so. We were gearing up for a big game that was out of town and the guys were practicing hard. I filled the coolers at least a dozen times so they could have cold water during the hot, humid early September day.
As I reached the upper field for what must have been the 476th time, I heard the head coach blow his whistle. A completely normal sound except that this particular whistle signaled the defense to the upper practice field. I didn't know that though. I was making my way onto the field to grab the squeeze bottles to refill them again when the distinct sound of a herd of cattle began to get louder. Then suddenly, it was deafening. Then, nothing.
I awoke in the trainer's office, the entire front of me, face included, was covered in mud and grass. Looking around, I noticed several players being taped up for various injuries and on the bed right next to the one they'd placed me on, THE hottest guy on the team IN ONLY A TOWEL. Up to that point in my life, the hottest guy I'd ever shared space with.
He noticed that I'd started to stir and called the trainer who proceeded to start concussion protocol. Flashlight in the eyes, memory, touch your nose, all of that while Hottie McHotterson watched.
After making me focus on what hurt and where the trainer moved to get an ice pack for my knee which was now a bright purple. At that moment, I wished that the entire defensive line would have run me over and the ground would have swallowed me whole!
They all stared silently, but I didn't know why. Was I supposed to say something? Thanks for running me over, it's cool, you guys do this with pads and helmets, I just hand those to you when you wanna run me over *insert eye roll*.
Suddenly the training room door swings open and the coaches enter along with the D-line. They all make their way to me-oh hell no!
"We're sorry for running you over, Kristy" the team rattled off in unison. The coach said, "Yeah and now they get to go run laps with obstacles to learn to pay attention to what's on the field and to show you how sorry they are."
Queue the groans and grunts as they exited through the door they'd just entered. It wasn't bad enough I'd been run over, now I get to be hated for getting run over!
The good news is, I spent the rest of the season in the golf cart they allowed me to drive to take water and equipment to and from the fields. The bad news is I couldn't look a player in the eye for the rest of my time in college. Also, I decided to take up golf. Take from that, what you will.