Football 101


I survived football camp!

I have so many feelings about this experience, so forgive me if this ends up being a bit all over the place.

I was so nervous to take on this assignment. I had all the self doubt I could muster. I had lots of worry about keeping up with the lingo, having no knowledge of the sport myself. I was seriously apprehensive about the sleeping arrangements and if I’m not sleeping, how the hell am I going to have energy to “fake it ’til I make it”?!

2 hours with traffic to get to the campus. 40 minutes of driving around looking for check-in information because we didn’t have to arrive until a day after the team got there. One look at my bed and all my worries about not sleeping were 100% founded. … I didn’t have much time to worry about it, though, because we had to hit the ground running.

I am fairly new to the student I was interpreting for. We haven’t developed any sense of comfort with each other just yet, so that was helping me to have a pretty unstable foundation for confidence. Add to that a total of nearly 100 players to stand in front of  and I was kind of a ball of nerves in the beginning. (All 3 of the school’s teams went – Varsity, JV, and the C team) The only thing keeping me functioning was my interpreting team partner. She is the student’s regular interpreter, so I was leaning on her a LOT that first day. She was so generous and kind and patient. It could have easily not been set up that way. It’s never expected that my sense of humor and attitude will automatically mesh with someone else… thankfully in this case it did! Also, the first formal interpreting responsibility that first day was game film.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but to be able to make heads or tails of game footage is like learning a different language…. and I was putting that foreign language into a rusty quasi-fluent language that is my second language- if I don’t count high school Spanish.

Offense/Defense is a no-brainer. But added to that play names, numbers, runs, routes, gaps, yards, nose guards, left tackles, opposing teams, blitzing, field goals, and all the analogies coaches like to use and at times I could feel those spinning hypnotizing circles turning in front of my eyeballs.

Talk about sink or swim!

I can tell you at the end of the three days, I was worn out. I was exhausted, sunburned, tired, but so energized, so thankful and appreciative of the experience. I ended up leaving feeling like I was really part of the team. The head coach is an amazing man who makes it very easy to see why he does what he does. Why those boys all respect and look up to him. My perception of what high school football is got turned upside down. The coaches were all so supportive and recognized and emphasized the importance of every factor of who makes up their team. They are 1000% inclusive of the entire staff that contributes to their football experience. At one point, the coach asked us – the interpreters – to spend a few minutes showing all three teams some signs they could share with the one kid on one of the teams that would find it helpful.

They were all so eager and willing to learn. I’m sure some were a little apprehensive to try it, but honestly I’d say 85% of those 99 boys all openly tried it, asked questions, wanted to be sure they were doing it right.

The look on our client’s face during that whole exchange was priceless. He went from near-mortified to glowing and beaming. It was moving. And from there, individuals would come up and ask me how to say certain phrases, have me review what they learned and ask if they were doing it right. In the middle of drills and scrimmages, guys would be throwing signs across 20 yards at each other- not just the deaf player – and our client would just smile. You could see him starting to feel like a real valid part of the team.

Inclusivity is invaluable. It’s markedly noticed when it isn’t happening, but the effects when it is realized and incorporated are immeasurable. I saw that for myself up close, in person.

It’s funny, when I was driving back I was trying to articulate how I felt about the whole experience. The words of the coach actually seemed to fit perfectly.

I would not say that football camp was fun. I would say, however, that it was hard work, it was challenging, it was scary and it was intimidating, but that was where the satisfaction came. Fun isn’t always where you feel value. That experience showed me more than any other that the work and challenge of it was what made it indelible.

I am so glad I said “Yes” to this experience. Truly, I will remember this for a very long time. It was easily the best Interpreting experience I have ever had. Perhaps I should say “Yes” more often…

Grand Totals:
Days Worked: 3
Hours Worked: 36.75
Steps Taken: 48,342
Hours Slept: 9
Lessons Learned: a bajillion

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