This week, Eagle High School delivered 2020 Senior Graduation yard signs to over 500 seniors. It was a tremendous event and I’m glad that I volunteered to do it. This year has been as bad as it could be and I needed a feel-good event like this to help get past the negativity.
I had eight seniors and their addresses. I was able to pick the students I wanted to deliver to, so I had been looking forward to this day. True to form, 2020 had another trick up its sleeve: it was pouring rain. The wind was up. It was a miserable time to be out doing anything. My original plan, to drive around and deliver in a Jeep with no top, was ruined. Thanks 2020.
My first stop was the house two houses from my own. I walked over and planted my first yard sign. I have known the young man there since 2005, so it was nice to take the close one. However, from this first one, I saw the problem with delivering to teenagers at 10:00 AM. Even though his car was in the driveway, the door went unanswered since he was still asleep. The yard sign is still there and looks just as good as when I planted it. I have enjoyed seeing it this week whenever I come home.
Australian Siri was employed next to start bossing me towards my next stop. I went to one of my Teaching Assistant’s house. She lives within half a mile of me. I planted her sign and knocked on her door. She was at work but her dad answered the door.
I had to explain who I was and why I was there to get his face to smooth out: I could see that he was very concerned at this middle-aged man knocking on his door, asking if his 18-year-old daughter was home. But even before I could leave, he was outside the house, taking cell phone pictures of the sign and sending it to her at work.
My other TA’s house was next. She had a large house and I knocked on the wrong door. I ended up bothering the Grandma in the Mother-in-Law’s house. She pointed me to the right door and I soon had live recipients: the daughter and the mom were home. They were varnishing their front door and couldn’t have closed it if they wanted to. They were both so excited to see me and talk to me about school, football, AP English, basketball, school again, and whatever else we could fit in the conversation. I stayed quite a while on their front step and it was a wonderful time. It is a memory with that student I will never forget.
Now, Siri started sending me to three houses of three senior football players. Each of these student-athletes I had a long history with — good and bad! I was excited to see them. However, two of them were either still asleep or not home and the doorbell went unanswered and signs were left planted in the yard. I did get a really nice text from one of them, saying he was sorry he had missed me.
At the last player’s house, his mom answered the door. This particular player is one of my all-time favorites and someone who I completely respect for his four years in our program. I also respect the family’s place in our program. Through position changes and tough playing-time issues, the parents supported the coaches and this young man ended up being a two-year starter for me at safety. He was a great leader, a great player, and a great young man. To say I had been looking forward to this delivery is an understatement.
He was upstairs still asleep and I told his mom not to bother him. I will never forget her response: “I have to go get him up. If he finds out Coach White was here and I didn’t wake him up, I will be in trouble forever.” That comment, along with the nice email I received later that night from the dad, are big reasons why I still coach football. That type of positive is tough to take lightly.
When this player came downstairs, I was able to have a great, five-minute conversation with him. I will cherish that time. It might be one of my last talks with that young man, and I am happy I was able to have it on a rainy Monday. We were both able to say our goodbyes to each other on a rainy front porch. I think it meant as much to him as it meant to me.
2020 sucks. Besides the Corona virus, it had already been a tough school year around my town. Now, add a crushed economy, no school, no sports, people going crazy being trapped inside, and random earthquakes — 2020 is right up there with the shittiest year ever.
Driving around some silly yard signs and taking seniors a handwritten note is one of the best, if not the best, activities I have participated in this year. One of the counselors at my school, Brad Hadley, was behind this yard sign effort and it was awesome. I am so glad I volunteered to go drive around in the rain and talk to students and families.