Football has been as big a part of my life as breathing. Each weekend during the fall for the past thirty plus years, my, "How was your weekend?", depended on a win or a loss and I've never even played the sport. It's inevitable when you're the daughter of a football coach. My mother often reminds my sister and I of how she worked so hard to separate our lives from the life of football, of which she did make a gallant and much appreciated effort. My father often remarks that "It's not brain surgery girls, it's just a game." But the emotional game of football hits the daughters' hearts very hard.
My father and his cohort for many years, Mike Leach, created an offense called the 'Air Raid' offense. The concept behind the offense is simple; take a team with less talent and fewer resources, and beat the other team by outsmarting them. It requires a smart quarterback who can 'see the field', execute as much of it as possible, and who can throw the football. That is the description of the offense, in my words, and it is sufficient enough for purposes of this article. Leach actually coined the title of the offense and he could not have picked a better name for it. To appreciate the title from my perspective, it is important to understand a bit more about my father. For as long as I can remember, if at home, dad can be found sitting in his chair with his head in a hard-backed book so large it seems it would take years to finish reading it. The books were all non-fiction books written about pre-World War I generals. His study of these generals included their strategy of leading their men into battle and the results therefrom. His fascination with the generals centered upon those who were able to win their battles with fewer men and/or weaker resources. Sound familiar?
This fascination with military generals was something my sister and I got more than our fair share of throughout our childhood. Through family vacations, we visited every American battlefield known to man, and not just once, most several times. Another trip to another historical battlefield site was not exactly two little girls' dreams of a sandy beach vacation. Just take a look at our sour little faces on the plethora of pictures of us standing behind the bars of some hundred-year old jail cell or leaning up against yet another engraved marker with a statute in the background of some unknown to us, bronzed man, galloping on his bronzed horse. We rarely appreciated any of it and probably still don't. I often teased my dad, by remarking that the only '13' I remember about the Alamo is that we had visited there over 13 times. He would just tip his head down from his chair with his reading glass on the very end of his nose and not say one word, but the blank glance toward my direction likely indicated he believed another trip was immediately necessary. I did redeem myself, a bit, years later, when I majored in history in college. Turns out, I had a lot of stored knowledge on the subject which came in handy. I may have not obtained my father's love for the study of military history, nor did I become a coach (thankfully, my older brother did), but I do know that my sister and I learned more about our father and about life through those travels and his fascination. It is a lesson that applies not only in military battles or on football fields, it is a much greater lesson that has carried us through our lives thus far. T
he lesson is this: Make the smartest decisions you can every step of the way in this life, even if under extreme pressure, or even if with fewer resources or less talent on your side. They may not always be the decision that outsmarts the next guy, you may not always defeat the enemy, or win the game, but, hopefully, in the long run your consistently smart strategy will ultimately prevail.
AUTHOR: Karen Handel