1. I grew up in a family of 49ers fans. I’ve never cared about football on television
2. When I was ten I liked the looks of flag football.My brother played on a city team and I loved the flags flapping and the heroic running across the grass. I asked my parents if I could be on a team too. On the first day of practice I kicked the coach’s hand instead of the ball by mistake. He cursed at me and that was the first and last day of my football career.
3. When I was ten I liked the looks of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders that I saw on a poster. I thought they were the epitome of womanhood and if that was what puberty had in store for me, I was really looking forward to it.
4. That wasn’t what puberty had in store for me.
5. I attended Carondelet High School, the across-the-street sister school of football powerhouse De La Salle High School. I went to a few football games because my friends were going but I watched exactly zero seconds of any play.
6. After teaching at all-girls high schools for eight years I started watching Friday Night Lights on television. Perhaps I chose to take a job at Sac Charter High mostly because of the show Friday Night Lights. Perhaps.
7. One of the deans and assistant football coaches at my school was a former college and NFL player. He told me that playing for the NFL was a dream come true. He had a rough childhood in the same hometown as me, and sometimes brought groups of kids to see where he grew up to show them what was possible through hard work and commitment.
8. I have known students who play football with the power and grace of Achilles on the fields of war. They are the reason I wrote How to Be Manly.
9. I have known coaches who drive students to school who otherwise don’t have rides. Who show up at a classroom within five minutes of a call that a student athlete is having a bad day and turn that student’s outlook around with a single conversation. Who bring food for students who don’t have enough at home. Who sit for hours counseling a student who is having a hard time. You think Coach Taylor of Friday Night Lights is great? Well he is, but real life asks so much more and the coaches I’ve known are heroes. They are the reason I wrote How to Be Manly.
10. When the school where I used to teach went against the school where I currently teach in a playoff game, I escaped by driving out to the middle of Death Valley and camping there for four days. It was a confusing time.