I was excited about going to Penelope. I have been there before but still excited to see the famous field again from the book “Where Dreams Die Hard” by Carlton Stowers, one of my favorite authors. It’s a great Six-man read if you haven’t read it. Coach Ballew and others are in the book. The book was based on the 2004 football season. I asked Ballew once just how long he had been coaching in Penelope because he is one of the team coaches in the book. He just chuckled and told me a long time.
As I approached Penelope from the town of West, I was greeted by a little portable stoplight in the middle of the countryside. I stopped at it and waited. After about five minutes, a truck pulled up behind me. A few more minutes passed. About to think we were left for good, there a little car with a round flashing light on top appeared in the distance. It turned around and confirmed my hopes it was the “follow me car.” The truck and I happily got behind it and followed along. Before long the pavement was gone and we were bouncing around on rough dirt alongside giant machinery doing all sorts of things. I quickly realized why we had sat at the little stoplight so long. This was a major area of road work.
Once back on solid pavement I realized I wasn’t going to be early as I had planned. Luckily I was on the field before the coaches appeared. The field is down a small steep hill from all of the school buildings. I was fascinated by watching how each person carefully walked down off to the side away from the steepest part. Plus they had just put in new sod on the hill so everyone was being careful to protect it. Coach Ballew was proud of how well the sod had done on the hill.
Coach Ballew greeted me excitedly and was ready to do his interview. He offered for us to go stand in the shade of a little tree to the side of the field. I gladly agreed to the shade. It was about 3:00 o’clock and the heat was on for sure. The shade of the little tree was a great reprieve.
The boys finished stretching and just as they were about to start other things, the water boy announced he had been stung by a bee. Ballew jumped into action and took him to the school building for assistance having the other coaches start the practice. You just never know what is going to happen.
Ballew soon returned and practice was in full swing. Working on plays and plans for their scrimmage against Gholson. They knew other teams were coming but their main focus was to currently work on what they knew to expect from Gholson. Coaches learn to anticipate what other coaches they know will do. Even if they haven’t seen things on film they may know that a coach will try certain things from past experiences.
I worked my way around the field and got several photos before deciding to head to the car before bursting into flame. My little car was extra hot when I returned to it. I decided to consult the GPS and find a new route back as to avoid little stoplights in the countryside. I found a new route through Hillsboro and off I went with the AC blasting.
See you on the Sidelines!
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