There’s never an easy way to pay tribute to someone who passes way before their time. Ethan Cohen wrote this yesterday, much more powerful than I could ever write:
Sophomore year of high school, Mr. Midgley was my football coach. I was a 15 year old drunk idiot who thought it would be a good idea to steal the garbage can in front of his house at 1 am on a Saturday night.
Me and two friends took his garbage can, threw it in his neighbor’s yard, and ran away thinking we were hilarious. The ruckus woke him up, which prompted him to jump on his bike and chase us down. I vividly remember him right behind us yelling “you dumbasses aren’t gonna outrun a bike.” (Especially not when it’s Midgley on the bike. His calves were HUGE) He stopped us and told us how we woke up his kids who were now crying. He didn’t call our parents, didn’t get us in trouble. Just told us to be better humans.
Being that he was my football coach, I tried my best to hide my face, knowing that any coach would kick a player off the team for doing shit like that. I went to practice on Monday thinking I’d dodged a bullet. In front of the entire team, he said “hey guys I think Ethan has no idea that I know he took my garbage can on Saturday night and woke up my kids. You shoulda seen him try to be sly and hide his face.”
Everybody, including me, laughed about the situation. I apologized, got my balls busted for the rest of the season from the players, but was able to stay on the team. After cracking a joke about it, he never mentioned it again. What an awesome dude.
I got injured halfway through the season (karma’s a bitch) but became the greatest waterboy in SVHS history. I took pride in keeping that team hydrated while saying cheesy motivational things to the players. At the big banquet after the season, as coach Midgley was giving everyone their trophies, he told me to stay on the stage after I got mine, because he had some words to say about me. At this point I’m thinking “oh my god here we go. He’s gonna tell 300 people about the garbage can thing.”
Turns out, he gave a heartfelt speech about how after I got injured, I could have easily just checked out. But instead, I became an awesome waterboy whose positive attitude helped boost the team’s morale. To this day, that speech is one of the coolest things anyone has ever done for me. Not only did he not kick me off the team for basically vandalizing his house, but he ended up giving a freakin speech about how good of a waterboy I was.
A lot of kids who grow up in Sonoma end up being great men and women. People like Mr. Midgley are the reason for that. He’s what every coach, teacher, and athletic director should strive to be. RIP Midge… we love you.
Be better humans. Thanks Bob.
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