Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Pronunciation Lesson

At the end of my first five games as Heavener’s football coach, as a matter of fact it was my first stint as anyone’s head coach, we had won five games. The Tulsa World had us rated in the top ten of our class. Life was good; it was beginning to look like I could be a success at this job of being a head football coach.

I was feeling my way with the players, I did not want to be seen as a martinet, but at the same time I did not want to be the players buddy. Being friendly was a given, it was not too many years since being a player myself and I liked the feeling that the coaches liked me; I wanted our players to like me. But the coach had to be respected as the leader of the team, the person in charge, the man whose decisions were obeyed. You gave respect and you got respect returned.

Anyway, our sixth game of the season was Spiro. Spiro had a good team, but it was certainly a game we could win. Late in the fourth quarter our senior fullback Claude Raines, broke lose on a draw play in the fourth quarter and scored the winning touchdown. Or what would have been the winning touchdown if an official had not called the play back because of a clip far back up field. The game ended and the two teams wound up in a tie. Back in those days if two teams wound up with the same score at the end of a regular season game the results of the game went into the books as a tie.

The next week we were going to play Wilburton. They may not have been the best team we would play, but they certainly were the fastest. If memory serves me correctly they won the hundred yard dash, the 220 yard dash, and the 440 yard relay in the state track meet the next spring. You could say that they were not lacking in speed.

When we had a scouting report on the next team we were going to play I would have it ran off so that each player would get a copy in our team meeting before practice on Monday. With just two coaches it was not a given that we would have a report, but I think we had one on Wilburton. After passing out the scouting report I would go over the salient points on the team we were going to play. Wilburton had in the past recruited Italian miners to work in the mines around Wilburton, and as a matter of fact the mines extended as far west as McAlister. One of Wilburton’s best player was a young man named Giacomo.

I pronounced his name as Gee-a-como and the room erupted in laughter. When the laughter subsided a red faced coach asked, “what was so funny?”

After a pregnant pause some one answered, “Coach, his name is pronounced Jack-a-mo.”
Well, if you can’t laugh at yourself you need not laugh at anyone else.

We lost the last four games of our season. Whether I was going to be a successful head coach still had to be proved. The next season took care of any fears that I may have harbored along those lines. The young men who played that year proved that I could coach and they certainly proved that they could play.


At November 23, 2008 at 8:47 PM , Blogger Chuck Hudlow said...

I consider myself one of the lucky ones to have had you as my coach in high school. I'm sure that everyone that played for you share my feelings.

I recall driving by your home late one night during our '61 football season. Seeing that your lights were still on, I imagined you sitting at the kitchen table, designing new plays to add to our, already thick, playbook.

You always had us prepared to win by the time Friday night rolled around.

At November 23, 2008 at 10:12 PM , Blogger Chuck Hudlow said...

...and one other thing, Coach. When I went to Eastern, one of the younger Giacomo brothers was there at the same time.

Occasionally, we would play tennis together and I would call him "Gee-a-Como" just to give him a hard time.

At November 23, 2008 at 10:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like I've said many times, I never got to play for you and I regret that I didn't. But you can write a heakuva blog and those memories are to be cherished.

At November 24, 2008 at 5:45 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clarence "milo" Raines not claude

How about that win over Muldrow that year. How abut a re-telling of that winning play?

At November 24, 2008 at 9:54 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who in the heck is anonymous?


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