It’s a guy’s name that some of you KC people that read this will know. Some of my family actually know him well.
I’m sure he’s a great guy, but his name was a cuss word to me in high school. Here’s why.
At the end of nearly every football practice, our head coach would say, “Alright men, to the corner. Two Danny Days before we’re outta here.”
The legend goes that Danny, a former player at the same high school I attended, was infamous for going above and beyond with his conditioning. After the pads were taken off, the football dummies locked up and the players headed for the showers, Danny would sprint around the entire football field. Multiple times. By himself.
347 yards, or 1,039 feet, each time around.
So when Coach would yell at us to run Danny Day’s, you see why that would be a cuss word to us. We’d already spent a couple hours working our tails off, only to cap it off with 1,000 foot sprints, the total number depending on his mood.
There’s a scene that’s permanently etched in my memory from one of those hot afternoons. We would run these cuss words in groups: receivers and defensive backs, running backs and linebackers, then the linemen.
Each group had a certain timeline we had to finish under or we’d run again. I honestly don’t recall the specifics but we had to hoof it.
The receivers, my group, would typically make it. The backs were pretty solid too. The linemen though struggled. For obvious reasons.
It was always a competitive thing, even if you finished under your time. One of my best friends, still to this day, was in the middle group. A hard-nosed fullback and linebacker.
He pushed himself so hard that on the last straightaway, I watched him vomit through his face-mask. Never one time stopping, in fact he was picking up speed.
That would have been memorable enough on its own, but what he did next is what’s stuck with me all this time.
The big fellas were the last group. My buddy caught his breath for a second as the early finishers of the linemen started rolling through.
All of a sudden, my buddy took off in a dead sprint again. Not around the field this time but across it. He headed straight for the back of the pack where a fellow teammate was barely hanging on, about to quit from exhaustion without finishing.
In a loving, yet firm way, he got right beside the final teammate. He hollered, encouraged, kept him going, wouldn’t let him quit.
It almost got to the point where he drug him across the final few steps. But they made it.
And the entire team was gathered at the finish line to watch it happen.
I knew it was special at the time, but I didn’t realize the depth of what I’d witnessed. How could I, I was a dumb high school kid.
But what a picture, huh? A guy who had already puked his guts out, sprinting back out into the trenches to be sure his teammate finished.
The physical exhaustion they both faced that afternoon is but a picture of the exhaustion we’ve all faced as we’ve stared at the challenges of life. Odds stacked against us, incredible suffering, terrible circumstances, hopeless and sleepless nights.
How do we keep moving forward, when everything in us wants to quit?
I’m not sure how you do it, but for me, it helps to keep putting one foot in front of the next while trusting that a loving but firm voice knows where I’m headed.