Because You’re Mine, I Walk The Line – Johnny Cash
It was nineteen seventy something and I am attending Maitland Junior High School. I’m not sure how it happened but my Dad had run into the coach for the school’s swim team and Dad signed me up for the team.
“Son”, my Dad started, which was never followed by anything good, “I met Mr. Lamar today, he is the coach for the swim team. I know you like to swim and are pretty good at it, I went ahead and signed you up for the team.”
“I like to swim and dive for fun and show off to the girls at the pool, Dad.” I reply “Do I have to wear a speedo?”
With a quizzical look on his face, he says “I don’t know what a speedo is but practice is after school at the community pool. You can ride your bike there.”
The next day was practice and I show up with a towel, wearing my baggies that I wear when I go surfing.
The coach looks at me, “You Hunter? We don’t wear suits like that. You need a speedo. Try to get red and gold so you match our team colors. Come back to practice when you have the right one.”
Embarrassed, I hop on my bike and high tail it out of there, not sure I’d ever go back. At dinner, Dad asks how practice went. I mumble “I need to get a speedo before I can practice with the team.” Dad instructs my Mom, “Go get him a speedo, whatever that is.”
The next day before practice Mom and I go to Denmark Sports and find a red and gold speedo so off I go to practice.
Now I’ll just let you know a pre-teen boy and a speedo is a bad combination. I’ll just say I had to concentrate on swimming and diving and not looking around at the girls running around in their speedos. If I hadn’t kept my eyes on the pool, I know I would have been kicked off the team and in today’s politically correct environment I would have been reported to the police.
Practices came and went until we had our first meet against another school. By this time Coach Lamar decided I was best used as a diver and not a swimmer. Our dive team consisted of me, my neighbor Jon Imhoof and one other fellow.
At the meet, the opposing team had two divers. Diving is judged on the degree of difficulty of a dive and how well you execute the chosen dive. You give the judges your line up of dives and then go for it. Based on the combined score is how you place in the contest. I was dead last that day.
More meets, more dead last positions were my fate. I wanted to quit.
Why go on to the practices and get the same results? I was community pool good but not competition good. In fact, after the fifth meet, I came up with an excuse to the Coach that I would have to quit because my Dad wanted me to go to work. Little did I know the Coach would call my Dad later that evening.
“Son,” my Dad said “I got a call from Coach Lamar. What the hell kind of story did you tell him?”
I stammered and stuttered for a good while until I finally admitted, “I’m no good at this Dad. I want to quit.” Whereupon I got a good slap to the side of the head and was told, “Hunters never quit what they start boy. You will be back in the pool tomorrow.”
And I was. And I went to the meets until the end of the season. Coming in first one time and close to last most of the other meets. The one thought that kept running through my mind was that even when I feel like quitting. “Hunters never quit!”
I have done my best to live my life by that motto. Sometimes I may have to take a few moments to rest or recover but I will never give up.
Live, Love, Matter