Thursday, August 1, 2019

FOOTBALL FOCUS / LIFE LESSONS


FOOTBALL FOCUS / NO DISTRACTIONS


Our world, our country, ALL people of ALL races . . . there seems to be a massive consciousness shift and energetic 🔱 rebalancing rocking our planet right now, a boatload of serious spiritual sh*t rising to the surface for transmutation and transformation. It clearly involves men and male energy. Our country is now grievously lacking positive, balanced male leadership and respect and love for ALL PEOPLE living here today on planet Earth. 

"ALWAYS FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE" __ This sage advice was given to us often by our amazing varsity football coach at Rome Catholic High School in Rome, New York, especially when we faced adversity. The man with the whistle, clipboard, gruff voice and commanding positive aura was COACH RAYMOND VACCARO, our incredible head coach AND wonderful mentor. Our lives were changed forever in a very good and positive way to be in the presence of this man. He was a leader. He held us to a higher standard. He showed us how to be good men. He was our role model. He was awesome. TODAY we could ALL definitely use his positive, encouraging, nonjudgemental energy . . . Big time.  

I’ll never forget one game in particular my senior year at RCH in the fall of 1970. It was an away game, we had already suited up, everyone wearing full pads and equipment, and we were taking a short bus ride from the locker room to the football field. I was crammed in at an angle in the aisle row, towards the back of the bus, sort of crunched in my seat next to another player, our gear and shoulder pads squeezing all the room between us. It was very quiet on the bus. 


FOCUS & DISCIPLINE __ Coach Vaccaro liked everyone to stay quiet and focused right before our games, to think about the game plan and mentally get into the zone. He was a big proponent of staying focused on what you had to do. Don’t allow distractions. Don’t let your mind wander. He taught us an excellent philosophy for football. He was also teaching us, simultaneously, an excellent philosophy for life. 


POWERFUL & FEARLESS __ Coach Raymond Vaccaro was born in 1929, first year of the Great Depression. He was captain of the varsity football team at Rome Free Academy in 1949 and was an excellent athlete despite being shorter than most of the other players. He was tough, built low to the ground, extremely powerful and absolutely fearless. He served with distinction in the U.S. Army in Korea. He was devoted and focused and always gave it all he had . . . as an athlete, a soldier, a leader, a husband, a father, a coach, and especially as an incredibly positive adult male role model for our diverse team of young, innocent, impressionable, Catholic, high school football players.





PERFECT PRACTICE __ Coach Vaccaro channeled the same coaching genius and hands-on leadership charisma as the late, great Green Bay Packer head football COACH VINCE LOMBARDI. Perfect technique. Perfect practice. ALWAYS. He explained blocking and tackling techniques, then demonstrated them, then we practiced ourselves, over and over, always with perfect form. When demonstrating tackling drills on the RCH football practice field with us, wearing only shorts, cleats, football jersey and a whistle, he would easily grab us in our full gear and pads and just throw us around like rag dolls. He was strong as a bull and afraid of nothing. We idolized him.


BUZZING PANDEMONIUM __ As we’re all trying to stay quiet and focused sitting in the moving school bus, suddenly, a huge bumblebee flies in the side window. Pandemonium sets in. The bee is buzzing in between and around our heads. Some of the younger guys in the seat right in front of me start to panic and squeal and yell and flail around. It was chaos. That’s when I spotted him coming down the aisle directly toward us. 
UH-OH, here comes coach,” 
I thought to myself. 

What happened next was like a scene from a QUENTIN TARANTINO movie.


KUNG FU FOCUS __ Coach Vaccaro quickly motors down the center aisle to the back of the school bus and abruptly stops right there directly in front of me. He never says a word. The bee is buzzing in and out. Everyone’s in a panic and squirming around and squealing, and then, suddenly . . . . WHACK!!! . . . . Coach snaps out a sizzling, stinging BRUCE LEE Jeet Kune Do backslap and blasts that bee in mid-air about 8 inches in front of my face.

WHACK SILENCE __ Everything immediately snaps into slow motion. The buzzing stops. Everything goes dead quiet. The bee smacks off coach’s sudden, explosive backslap, blasts right in front of my face, past two guys sitting on my left, and smacks into the wall of the bus between the windows. It then bounced about six inches off the wall, hovered there for a nanosecond, and immediately buzzed out the open window.

IT'S TIME FOR FOOTBALL __ Before I could even begin to mentally digest and comprehend this crazy scene playing out out right before my eyes, I immediately turned my head to look back at coach . . . but, NOOO . . . he's already gone. He never said a word. No whistle. No clipboard. No play diagram. No X's and O's. No Vince Lombardi inspirational quote. No discussion. No fatherly advice. No delicious Italian pasta carbo loading. No wasted effort. No nothing. NADA! He simply smacked that bee in mid-air, knocked it flying out the window, and immediately turned around to return to his seat. It's time for football. No distractions . . . BEE IN THE MOMENT BOYS ! ! 


MEANINGFUL LIFE LESSON
I was just a 17-year-old kid at the time and this was one of the most amazing things I’d ever witnessed. And now, as I fondly and humbly and lovingly remember our cherished Coach Vaccaro all these years later, it’s still one of the most stunningly powerful, realistic, kinesthetic life lessons I’ve ever experienced.


 

BOYS NEED MEN 

Coach Vaccaro, you were a powerful, loving inspiration for ALL OF US . . . and so much more than simply a great football coach.



POSITIVE ADULT MALE 

ROLE MODEL 

You also boldly and gracefully served as the positive adult male role model that many of us (especially me) really needed during those vulnerable, volatile, influential, wildly-transformative, emotional, rollercoaster teenage years. You believed in us. You stood by us. You were there for us. You were a rock for us . . . a solid, stable, loving, fatherly foundation that allowed us to make mistakes and still learn and grow and mature and help each other develop into good players and good teammates and good men.


 



🙏 BE BAD ASS EVERY DAY __ We thank you Coach for the wonderful lessons you graciously taught us about TEAMWORK, DISCIPLINE, always doing our BEST, living life to the FULLEST and staying CENTERED and FOCUSED regardless of this world's crazy, harmless distractions that sometimes try to attack us and buzz around inside our little heads. Powerful lessons. We're all better men today just because YOU WERE THERE FOR US.


Your strong presence and sacred fatherly energy remain in our hearts and souls to this very day and continue to motivate us and guide us. 

We love you. We bless you. We behold the Lombardi in you. 

Thanks for everything Coach.   ❤️ 🙏 



o - o - o - 🏈 - o - o - o

o - o - 🙏🏽 - o - o

o - 🙏 - o

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OTHER ARTICLES BY ARENA CREATIVE GROUP
Sacred Balance: Soul Quest on Mount Shasta
Mni Wiconi: Sacred Stand at Standing Rock


BILL ARENA, eldest of nine kids born in Rome, New York, is a lightworker, spiritual warrior, energy healer, animal / bird wrangler, men's work facilitator, group meditation leader, Alcatraz open ocean endurance swimmer and head writer / editor Arena Creative Group, San Francisco. 



o - o - o - 🔱 - o - o - o

o - o - 🙏🏽 - o - o

o - ❤️ - o

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