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AFM Magazine

Letters to AFM

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Dear AFM:

Thank you for your selection of Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch to your 1998 NCAA Division I-A All- American team. Tim had a great season leading the Wildcats to their first New Year's Day Bowl appearance in 47 years.

Thanks, too, for listing Tim's high school coach, Joe Beder, and his UK position coach, Chris Hatcher, along with head coach Hal Mumme. Your magazine is for "all football coaches", and AFQ (AFM) does a great job of recognizing the contributions of all coaches involved in a player's development.

I also enjoyed your list of memorable quotes form Paul "Bear" Bryant. You mentioned Bryant's 13 Southeastern Conference championships won at Alabama. He also won a 14th SEC championship as the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats.

Keep up the good work.

Tony Neely
Sports Information Director
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY

Note: Tony is right. The legendary Bear did lead the Wildcats to the 1950 SEC crown and a Sugar Bowl victory over Oklahoma. BT

Dear AFM:

In a recent issue of the magazine, you requested that "we" write to you about why football is a game America loves. After last season, two player wrote letters that I believe can answer your question far better than I can. One letter was sent to me and the other was a part of a college entrance application.

Jacob Robinson was a two-year letterman and started his senior year. While Robert Winson was a three-year starter, three-time all-league player, voted all-county twice, and was selected as an all-state All-CIF as a senior.

Keep up the great work with the magazine.

Thanks for all you do for football.

Coach John Mack
Saint Bonaventure High School
Venture, CA

Note: The two letters Coach Mack referred to above were quite moving and we have chosen to reprint portions of them. BT To the University of California:

Yesterday I played a football game against St. Monica's in the second round of the playoffs. It was the hardest game I've ever played. I'm the smallest of our linebackers, but the coach starts me because I play hard. The other team's athletes were bigger and stronger than I was, but I tried my best; the whole team did, but we lost in overtime. I've learned football is a great metaphor of life, and I've learned more about life on the field than I could ever hope to learn in the classroom. I realized that night that I may not be the best, but that's okay as long as I tried my hardest.

Losing that game hurt. It hurt to look at my teammates standing next to me and realize I'll never get to play another game with them. It hurt to realize all of the hard work and preparation was just not enough, and it was over.

But I was surprised that night that I was not upset with myself. Of course I always have that faint echo in the back of my mind asking what I could have done differently to help win the game; that's only natural. But last night the echo was fainter than usual, and in a way, I was glad to end the season and my football career after a game in which I had played my hardest. Some people are afraid to do their best because if they don't succeed, they will not have an excuse, and must accept that their defeat was the result of their own inability. If they don't try their best, and lose, then they can always rationalize they were capable of success, but they just didn't make the effort. There was a part of me like that before last night, but now I understand there is more comfort in accepting failure that is the result of inability as opposed to lack of effort. Failure is something I've never been able to take well. That is why I strive so hard for success, but it is easier for to me to accept last night's loss knowing I couldn't play any better, and not that I wouldn't play any better."

Jacob Robinson

Dear Coach Mack:

If I am on the East Coast for four years, I know I will be coming back to the West Coast to work, live and raise a family. I can't promise I'll be near enough to the school to coach and physically help out, but I will make a major contribution to the program that meant so much to me. Be my contributions financial, tangible or intangible, I want you to know I will always be loyal to you and to St. Bonaventure football.

There is nothing else in the world I want more than to come back to this community and coach football and make a positive impact in the lives of the youth here. I want to be a role model for them. I am lucky I have had great role models for the last four years. You have taught me what it means to be a model citizen and recognized as a leader, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that.

Coach, I chose to write you in the same way as I would write a business letter because to me committing to play St. Bonaventure football is a lifelong commitment that doesn't end with my senior season.... It hurts me to see the way (some) players abandon the most hardworking and committed man in their lives, and I want to compensate you for their insensitivity.

In closing, I want you to understand that I appreciate you and all you have done for me, because without you in my life, I would not have ever gotten as far as I have. No one told me to write this letter to you, I do it because I want to be these things I have mentioned. I feel like I owe it all to you, and for that you can count on me for anything. Coach, I won't let you down.

Robert Winson, No. 72

Note: Jacob Robinson was accepted to Cal-Berkeley and Robert Winson committed to play football at Harvard after trips to Cornell and Penn. I am pretty sure these young men will not let Coach Mack down; aren't you? BT


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