Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Camp 101: the Good & the Bad

As my final days in New York and at Columbia wind down I have been thinking a lot about football. Not because of all the pre-season NFL games going on (even though that is reason), but because my former teammates are in the middle of football camp. It really is surreal to think I will never catch the team bus to go to practice or wake up everyday at 6:30 am (which I don't miss) after 6 hours of sleep (if I was lucky enough) for 2 weeks straight. They say nothing is harder than football camp freshman year, and the fact that my freshman camp is a blurred memory is enough for me to agree to that statement. Don't get me wrong, I love football and would do anything to put shoulder pads on (even though my body is screaming "NO!!") but truth of the matter is, camp is not glamorous and not for the weak hearted. The feeling of soreness and pain as if you just got hit by a truck is not a feeling I truly miss. You know camp is long and a struggle when Powerade doesn't taste like fruit punch anymore or when the highlight of the day were the desserts at lunch and dinner. But I do miss being on the field, and all the pain was worth it knowing I had 100+ teammate/brothers going through the same thing. Suffering created an instantaneous bond amongst the team. You didn't always get along with everybody, but there was a mutual respect for each other because everybody is working for the same goals. 

For the first time in 15/16 years I will not be making my way to a football practice. It is kinda weird and something I am still getting use to, but my time has come and gone. All I can do is think about the good, and yes, the bad times. Because they served as learning lessons and fun memories. Not many people know, but my nickname "Chi Chi" or "Cheech" was created during my freshman camp. You can ask me later how that came about, but from the moment I was called "Chi Chi" it stuck. At first I hated it, I mean lets be honest, it is an embarrassing name. Especially if you know what that name refers to in Spanish. But I accepted it and saw it as an opportunity for my teammates to strike conversation with me. But aside from all aches and pain camp was fun (to a certain extent). When you play, think and breathe football for 2 weeks straight non-stop, you have to be creative to keep spirits high and numb the physical pain. Luckily my team was filled of characters and fun guys. Lets start with Mike Waller. He is currently a Senior on the team and one of the funniest guys I have met. From his Jersey Shore impersonations (which he claims are only impersonations. I am calling BS on that one. The guy is all about his GTL) to his award winning singles "D. Chao on the dance floor" and "Lopees Ri-der" (yes, it is a Hispanic parody about me), Waller always can be counted on for a good laugh. When I was a freshman I always counted on David Brekke informing me of the dress code for practice (inside team joke). Augie Williams and Dan Meyers always reminded the team that we are "Living the Dream" (well at least their tattoos told us). Nick Mistretta "Mozz" made sure David Guetta was on the play list in the locker room, and it was always a good time tuning into Marc Holloway's radio show over the speaker system on the bus going to and from practice everyday. There are other individuals and actions I would like to share more, but I am trying to keep this blog PG-13. Just kidding (Well not about the sharing. There is a saying "What happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room")

The list and good times go on and on, but the bus rides up to Baker and "Ultimate Sit-Up" competition will be missed moments. Blessed and thankful I was able to play college football, because not everyone has the opportunity to play. But I wish my former teammates the best of luck this season. Wear that "Columbia" name across your chest with pride and bring that trophy home! 
All the seniors after our win versus Brown on Senior Day. Also the last time, minus Jeff Adams (far left. He is with the Cowboys) that me and the rest of the guys will ever wear pads.

The Columbia Lions begin their season next week versus Marist. Wishing them the best! Start the season off right. You can follow my Alma Mater (WOW, that was weird to say) all year long by clicking on the link below. It is the football website with the schedule and updated news!

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