My Ascent into 8th Grade Stardom

Mike Calimbas

My Ascent into 8th Grade Stardom

It was very hard moving to a new town in the summer of 1994. This event meant having to attend a new middle school and reestablish myself in a new environment. Even though I had moved about every two years of my entire life, that did not make this time any easier. I still had to make new friends and ground myself all over again.

Middle School, like most other middle schools, had an "in" crowd. At Crossroads, it was mainly the football players. After I started school at Crossroads, football tryouts were being staged. I saw this as a most significant event on my path through adolescence, a chance to get recognized by my new school, as well as a chance to make some friends and gain some glory along the way.

Getting up at one Saturday morning and going up to the school, I was very nervous about whether I would make the team or not. I've always had athletic ability, but since this was a new town, I was unsure about how my skills would compare with the other kids. Football tryout was a grueling event. When tryouts started, it was explained to all of us that the coaches would run drills in order to gauge our skills, and then place us in specific position groups. After the drills, which I did exceptionally well in , Coach Jones placed me in the running back group. He told me that I was extremely strong and fast, and that I would make a good tailback. It felt so good, not only making the team, but being singled out by Coach Jones as possibly one of the better players on the squad.

Throughout the next couple of weeks, the Crossroads Vikings held football practice every day after school from 2:45 until 5:00. We always started with some team stretching and then we moved onto our positional drills. We running backs always had drills such as running through ropes and practicing plays. It was fun. As the days and practices went by, I made many new friends. All the starters, me being the starting tailback, just began to hang out together, in and out of school. That is just the way it went. Chad, Rick, Bill, Derek, Ben, and I were hanging out together all the time. Eventually, they introduced to me to all the "cool" kids in school and the feeling of being the "new kid" went away. I was now a football player. And best of all, our first game was coming up.

The most exciting day of the week for an athlete, the day of the first game, suddenly was upon us. I reminisce about proudly wearing my football jersey to school on that day, not concentrating on anything but the game. We were playing Elizabeth Middle School that Friday. All day long I couldn't concentrate on anything but playing football. Everything my teachers said was a blur and I seemed to see nobody else in the hallways of Crossroads except for the guys in the black and gold jerseys. I was getting very anxious. But game time had to come sometime.

After the 7th period bell rang, I rushed to the locker room. Walking into the locker room, every one of us starting screaming and yelling football talk. "Time to kick some ass" was what I yelled over and over as I put on my pads. After we all got suited up and got the pre-game talk from the coaches, we ran out of the locker room, punching lockers on the way out, and screamed all the way onto the field in three straight lines. Being one of three captains, I led one of the lines onto the football field and started warm-ups. For me, this was the most anxious time of gameday. Actually playing the game was automatic. Running pre-game drills game me time to think. As I screamed at my teammates to do stretches, I could smell the fresh grass, hear the assorted noises of the people in the stands, and feel the sweat on my brow. The adrenaline poured faster and faster into my veins as the beginning of the game neared. By the time the game started, I felt like a starving caged animal ready to be let