Here’s mud in your eye

The Tokay’s Patrick McCarthy, left, talks with teammate Javier Pacheco between plays during a varsity football game at Edison High in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/320th sec. @ f/2.8 w/flash. ISO: 2000)

I must be getting spoiled with the artificial surface on football fields, because I was a bit unprepared for the muddy conditions at a game at the Tokay at Edison last week. Magnasco Stadium is one of the oldest fields in Stockton. The lights are among the county’s worst, (we describe it as a pit or dungeon) and the field’s drainage is pitiful. After a couple of moderate rains storms, the turf was a quagmire. Even though the rain had stopped, I slipped and slid on the sidelines in my street shoes which went from black to brown with muck. My lower pant legs were splattered with drops of mud. Most of the players were covered in the stuff.

I remember the practice before the last game of the season my sophomore year. It had rained earlier and the practice field was soaked. Near the end of the practice, the field was pretty chewed up and muddy. We actually were having fun getting dirty. We took our appearance as a sign of how hard we played, a badge of courage, so to speak.


The Tokay defense prepare to line up between plays during a varsity football game at Edison High in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/320th sec. @ f/2.8 w/flash. ISO: 2000)

Most of my teammates and I were covered in the muck except one player, I’ll call Mark. He was on the sidelines, his pristine white practice uniform was spotless. Even his shoes were still clean. The last part of our session was special teams practice. Mark was on the kickoff return team. As he trotted onto the field, a murmur went through the kickoff team: “Let’s get Mark”. The play started and the ball sailed through the air. We who were on the kicking squad abandoned the chase for the ball carrier and ran straight towards Mark.

All eleven of us jumped him and gleefully dragged him through the mire that was the practice field. I think even a few the guys who were on his side joined in. The coach restored order and the rest of practice continued without incident.

At first I thought that the Tokay and Edison players last week must have been miserable slogging around in the mud, but they helped me to remember how fun getting dirty can be.

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