Fall is almost upon us

by

The dog days of summer have arrived.  The temps are in the high 90’s and so is the humidity.  And, the excitement for the coming fall seasons is in full swing.  Case in point, this blog from former General Thomas Baynham III, Class of 1979.  Enjoy!

We are stuck in the August doldrums and there seems to be liitle respite from the heat and humidity. I found out this past Friday that the vents in my office are not connected to air conditioning venting. Apparently, the cool air created by the system has been dumped directly into the dark spaces in the attic, rather than being pumped onto my head. So, the squirrels that work their way from the trees outside my office into the attic are quite comfortable, while I am ingesting about three bottles of water and half a container of gatorade each day to survive the heat blasting through the walls and windows.

Football season is beginning all over the country. I guess there are some places where that is a pleasant experience with temperatures in the 70’s and steady breezes during two a days. For me, August football practice was heat and stress. I hated two a days in shorts. Too many agility drills and running around. Not enough hitting.

When we left two a days in shorts and had that first practice in the morning, with pads, and usually had Oklahoma drills as the climax of the practice.. Oh man. Beating my fists on the dry, dusty dirt, getting myself ready to take on some offensive lineman about six inches and fifty pounds over my size. After I got past all of the linemen who were roughly my size, they stuck me in front of George Berry, who was the biggest offensive lineman on the team and captain. I can’t say I stuck with him all the way. But I held him up for a little while.

I loved Oklahoma drills. I wish I could still get out there and beat on someone. My coach in college told my parents that someday people wouldn’t believe that a five foot eight inch one hundred sixty pound linebacker was playing college football.

Now I am older and fatter and am not near in shape. I don’t have the same reflex to hit back when someone comes at me unexpectedly. But sometimes… Sometimes I can think back and feel that electricity in my arms and chest and wish I could wait the movement of the offense and charge forward and have the vision to watch the movement of the ball and see the patterns coming into reality and plunging my body into the pattern to pull the skeins of the pattern apart and leave it all undone like so much ruined tapestry on the ground.

That is what is so perfect. That and working your way toward the backfield, to the apogee of the arc, where the prize awaits, and you hit that quarterback in the pocket so hard, so clean and drop him on the ground.

In the Emory and Henry game on Wilson Field in my senior year, the ball was snapped and the action of the play was going away from me. Carl Folcik, our strong side linebacker was blitzing toward the play and hit the quarterback square, spinning his body so he was facing me as I trailed the play and was able to slam the back of his head into the grass hard enough so that they took his inert body to Stonewall Jackson Hospital to check the concussion.

I laughed in the subsequent huddle. That was my last best game. My last game on Wilson Field. We had one more game at Georgetown in DC. That was always a fun game, staying in Alexandria on Friday night, beating on the Hoyas on Saturday, riding through downtown Georgetown on Saturday night, watching all the revelers going from shop to tavern to restaurant and so on. Heading back to Lexington and the Shenandoah River Valley under a November moon. Like JEB Stuart’s cavalry, riding around the Yankees.

W&L plays Sewanee on Monteagle on September 11th. Can’t wait.

Enjoy the memories.

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