Woe is me!
That was the message from 12 Acadiana-area public high school football coaches Tuesday afternoon, as they tried to convince the other coaches and members of the Kiwanis Club that their team was too slow, small and young to compete this year as part of the annual Crying Towel luncheon, which serves as the unofficial kickoff to this week’s Kiwanis Club jamborees.
The Crying Towel award is given to the coach who can give the funniest tongue-in cheek reasons as to why their teams won’t be very good this season. Each coach took the podium and begged to the gathered coaches to take it easy on their team, usually accompanying their sad story with a joke to get the crowd going.
Tuesday’s winner was a newcomer, as Breaux Bridge assistant coach Chris Garvey won the judges over with the best sob story.
Select schools participating in the Kiwanis Club jamboree held their Crying Towel luncheon last week, where Opelousas Catholic’s Dane Charpentier did the best job tugging heart strings and tickling funny bones.
Garvey, a Texas native, bemoaned that he not only can’t pronounce his players’ names, but he can’t understand them when they speak.
“I come down here and I can’t say anybody’s last name, I can’t read any street signs, I don’t know how to say half the names of the teams we’re playing,” Garvey said. “So there’s obviously a communication barrier. They start every sentence with ‘mais’ and end every sentence with ‘yeah.’ ‘Mais dats good yeah?’ I don’t even know what that means.”
How is he supposed to coach under such conditions? Especially when the problem extends to the rest of the coaching staff.
“So I’m filling out the special teams depth chart, that’s one of my duties because, you know, they pay you so well,” Garvey said. “I said to our defensive coordinator, ‘How do you say our kicker’s name?’ He said, ‘Oh, that’s Go For Two.’ So I guess we won’t be kicking much this year.”
It wasn’t all fun and games Tuesday, as Dr. Robert LeJeune, the Kiwanis Club’s liasion to teams, requested coaches to mind their manners on the sidelines.
“One of the things that has come up, being that we do the chain gang on the sidelines and stuff like that, is coaches using direct derogatory and very inflammatory language toward their players,” LeJeune said.
LeJeune said the club is petitioning the Louisiana High School Athletic Association to try to create a rule that penalizes a coach degrading a player verbally on the sideline.
But the mood was mostly a light one Tuesday. Here are the best of the rest, including an additional line from Tuesday’s winner.
“I thank him for the compliment, but I am a retired NFL player. And, as many of you know, the concussion settlement is a thing that’s in the news. Looking at this schedule a couple years in a row, I think people would definitely know that I bumped my head a couple times,” said Northside coach Trev Faulk, whose team starts out with tough games against in Acadiana, Carencro and Evangel after finishing 3-7 last year.
Faulk prefaced the one-liner with a story about a local radio host that complimented him for his bravery in scheduling tough opponents.
“Keeping with the theme that’s been going on the last couple years with the 12th man, at Comeaux last spring we thought, ‘It’d be nice for us to get something like that going on.’ We called it out, and what happened was only 14 people showed up. Any coach with any kind of class would do the same thing — use those guys as scouting dummies. Well, it got to the point that they were getting just as good as us,” Comeaux assistant coach Ronald Gunner, who went on to tell a lengthy story about how the average Joes challenged his varsity football players to a scrimmage, and his varsity won by a field goal.
“Turns out my offensive line could star for the ‘Feed the Children Foundation’ that comes on late at night. ‘Just remember, for $1 a day you can feed a Breaux Bridge lineman,’ ” said Garvey, who described his linemen in the same terms as the underfed kids from underprivileged areas featured on late-night infomercials.