It all goes down in the locker room of any sports team: the trash talk, the teasing, unity, pregame talks, film sessions and even comfort.
Toby kept getting harrassed, not by the teammates as a whole but a rogue, jealous one named Gabe. No one really liked Gabe: he was hood, ignorant and simply jealous and a distraction. He would be banned from the game if times were different.
Well Toby got tired of the harrassment one day and asked Gabe to leave him alone. Gabe shoved Toby and in return, Toby kicked dirt onto Gabe. Gabe took a giant lop of dirt while Toby ran and shoved it into his head. By this time, the entire team was on the practice field, waiting on the coaches to arrive. Toby turned fire red. One of the teammates saw it and took his helmet. Toby then charged after Gabe, trying to get him with a rock. This when on for five minutes when Gabe pulled his helmet off and was about to hit him when the coaches finally came. We now know from the Myles Garrett mishap that this is not allowed at all. The teammate was smart to take Toby’s helmet. By this time, practice had started and Toby was still infuriated.
What followed was perhaps the best practice Toby had in his entire career. Not know for being athletic or even very aggressive, no one was safe with Toby. He was blocking, tackling, hitting. His aggression was out in proper fashion.
Afterwards, when Toby was getting dressed to leave, one of the team leaders didn’t think Gabe’s actions were cool. That’s when Toby broke down and literally didn’t stop crying until sometime that night. This leader was Austin. Austin did not think it was cool at all and even embraced and comforted Toby for about 10 minutes.
Toby approached that week and game with a lot more ferver. The coaches apparently knew what had happened but didn’t openly punish the players. The other teammates had and knew it wasn’t right though. Toby never knew but he was pretty sure Austin stood up and said enough is enough. The entire pregame speech was about Toby and his relentless efforts as a player and a student. Toby could not remember an entire speech being dedicated to one player but it was. Toby actually got to play an entire series late in the game and was voted Player of the Week.
Austin stood up for a lot of people and loved the underdog so much he wasn’t going to tolerate any foul behavior. Toby played another season and from that point on, no one ever teased or bullied him again. Gabe was also kicked off the team for academic reasons.
We could not only use more Tobys but more Austins also. Those young leaders that will protect the sanity of the locker room and not allow any player to feel unsafe or unwanted. If you’re an Austin in your locker room, I salute you. That man Toby is now salutes you and you will always be remembered.
#imjustdrew #fromdarktosunshine #scaredeyes