Coach Lane’s Creations: Ball-On-A-Stick
Back when I was coaching football, if we coaches needed something, Coach Paul Lane would always find a way to take care of us. Always. The admins gave us a budget and support that could generously be described as nada. But Coach Lane made the most of every penny, quite a few which were his own.
If I said, “Coach Lane, I could sure use a measuring stick to check offensive lineman splits on the fly during practice.”, lo and behold, a 5 foot long “T” PVC pipe Split-O-Meter would appear with a “T” piece our standard split length of 3 foot. Plus he added a feature of a painted black region in the middle of the PVC pipe for measuring our shorter split of 2 foot. Amazing!
If I said, “Coach Lane, I could sure use some pull-up bars that connect to the steel roof supports of the wrestling room.” Presto! I would show up Monday morning and there are half a dozen pull-up stations, made of iron pipe securely connected into the supports. Remarkable!
When I needed some way to hang homemade gymnastics rings from those same supports, the chains disappeared from the Lane home’s porch swing and found themselves placed into action. (Poor Mrs. Coach Lane’s beautiful porch swing was temporarily out of commission. Sorry Mrs. Lane.)
But, one of the greatest Coach Paul Lane’s feats of engineering was the Ball-On-A-Stick.
Ball-On-A-Stick. A ball, on a stick, that we used to simulate football snaps for defensive line drills. We wanted our d-line to react to ball movement cues and not verbal or sound cues from the opposing QBs, so we used the Ball-On-A-Stick in our drills.
A few weeks ago, one of the last remaining players that I coached stopped by the house one evening just as I was arriving home from work. He stopped his truck right in the middle of the street and got out smiling ear to ear. He opened his toolbox and pulled out the Ball-On-A-Stick. I was so happy I was virtually moved to tears. I thought it would be long forgotten and discarded.
“I saved it, Coach. Out of the trash” he said. “Thought you might want to have it back.” (Can you see why I loved coaching these kids?)
Well, ole’ Ball-On-A-Stick has seen better days. Coach Lane made a beautiful marvel of football technology with the fresh-off-the-showroom version. New and shiny NERF football silicone sealed to a brand spanking new broomstick (Sorry, again Mrs. Lane), a real work of art.
The ball is held onto the stick with athletic tape now. Why you ask? Because a certain young center who will remain nameless, once thought of the Ball-On-A-Stick as a golf club. But, #58’s golf skills were lacking, his golf stoke similar to a rusty gate and he duffed his attempted swing across the ground breaking the silicone seal and sending the NERF ball fluttering to ground 20 yards away. To say I was mad, well…
The Ball-On-A-Stick has been tossed, slammed, fought over and trashed. The poor handle was even bent one practice during a Coach Hays temper tantrum incident.
But it survives. The Ball-On-A-Stick now sits next to my desk. It is a reminder of how much fun we had. It is a reminder of how well Coach Paul Lane treated us, the coaches, the players and the entire Tiger Football Program.
Now, if we could just locate that Split-O-Meter…