With the fog rolling in, covering the field at El Camino High School in South San Francisco on a cold night in early November, 1967, the bleachers were filling with student-body, family and friends anxious for the football showdown between the El Camino Colts and my team, the Westmoor Rams. This was a big deal; our very first night game and a league game which had consequence on the final league standings.
As the starting right defensive end I had a clear shot at the quarterback as he dropped back to pass, deep in his own territory. I lowered my shoulder into him forcing a fumble which we recovered. The stands erupted with a roar that cut through the blanket of heavy, wet air. Only one voice was clear and distinct and heard above all others. That was the German-accented voice of my father yelling "LARRY!!!". It made me smile then as it still does today.
The significance of that play and that night is best appreciated in the context of what transpired the preceeding 3 years. As a freshman, sophomore and junior in high school I was a second string bench warmer despite playing my heart out and getting the tar knocked out of me daily at practice. Those years I saw little to no playing time on game day. Despite that, my father did not miss a single game. Ever. He even came to some of our practices. He knew how painful it was for me to do so much work and not be able to play. He remained and remains supportive. Always.
So we fast forward 43 years as we prepare to leave for Portugal and the Master's World Track Cycling Championship. My dad and his wife are accompanying Trish and me to Portugal and he will be in the stands as I race and I can already hear him yelling.
Such a fan.
Thanks for reading.