62: Teammates Are for Life

62: Teammates Are for Life

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tales of Golf and Sport

Teammates Are for Life

If I had to sum up Friendship in one word, it would be Comfort.

~Adabella Radici

One of the things many high school athletes don’t realize until later in life is that the young men and young women they now call teammates will also be among the best friends they’ll have throughout their lives.

I remain close with several teammates I had on the Macon (Missouri) High School football team back in the late 1970s, one of whom was a fellow named Greg Hyatt.

Hyatt, a linebacker, was one of those sorts who had to put a good lick on someone every play. If he couldn’t get to the guy carrying the ball, then someone else had to go down. He and I were the only two players from our class to letter all four years in high school.

I remember a game during our senior season against one of our arch rivals. It was also a heated battle, filled with emotion and a lot of pads popping. Early in the game, on a punt, an opposing player attempted to block me on punt coverage. I sidestepped him, but as I went by he slugged me in the side of the head. I have to admit it dazed me somewhat, but not to the point where I didn’t get his number.

It took about two more quarters, but opportunity finally arrived to provide a good, clean hit on him, and I did. He sprawled into a pile of players and came up quite irritated. Suddenly, I was nose to nose with not only that player, but about two or three of his teammates. That didn’t last long though, as Hyatt was right next to me in about a second.

When you need a friend, you can always count on your teammates.

Ten years later, I found myself in a different kind of confrontation, a confrontation with adversity. My first wife, a lifetime asthma sufferer, had been hit with her worst attack ever. She died in my car as I was driving her to the hospital. Emergency room personnel were able to get her heart going again, but she was transferred to a trauma center in a deep coma.

I can remember standing there in a waiting room looking out the window at the city. Family members were there, but there are times when you just want to talk to a friend. About that time, I heard footsteps coming up the stairway. As I turned around, there stood my old friend Hyatt, tears filling his eyes.

Seeing him standing there, an eerie yet comforting and familiar feeling came over me. For a moment I was back on the football field in Macon. I was facing a tough situation, but I had backup.

Seeing him at the top of those steps meant the world to me that night, and still does today. That’s something I tell high-school kids whenever I get the chance, that these guys you’ve gone to war with in high school will be some of the best friends you’ll ever have.

There have been a lot of changes in my life since that October 1988 night, but one of the constants has been my friendship with Greg.

After all, we are teammates, and teammates are there for each other even after the noise of the crowd is gone.

~Jim Brown
Chicken Soup for the Sports Fan’s Soul

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