I woke up on Saturday morning with a different outlook. The sun was warming the streets of Corvallis and I was ready for coffee. I got prepared to head out of the hotel room, wondering if there would be practice. It was Saturday, which usually means game day for college football. But, in the middle of August workouts, I wondered if they took the weekends off. The routine created the previous morning felt comfortable enough to do again. I hopped into my car with the knowledge that parking restrictions on campus would be absent. Weekends meant my car could be parked just about anywhere. I found a lot across the street from the basketball coliseum, which is adjacent to the football practice fields. Parked my car and walked the sort distance to the coffee shop. Many more people were crowded into the Dutch Bros coffee shop that morning, as compared to the previous day. But, the exterior table I occupied the previous morning was empty. I crowded in with the rest of the customers, many looking like they might be starting a campus tour or orientation. Everyone was friendly, as I exited with my coffee and pastry. Setting my breakfast down on the table, I sat in the relative quiet. There were hardly any people on that side of the coffee shop. Everyone had gathered just outside the entrance of Dutch Bros. So, I sat in the warm morning air, looking just across the street at the main entrance to Gill Coliseum.
As I sat and enjoyed my coffee, people would pass by periodically. For me, there is something different about being in a small town. People seem more apt to look each other in the eye. More often than not, I exchanged good morning with most who walked past. Many walking onto or off of campus. Life just felt slower and I drank up each moment of the three mornings I sat with my coffee. Something I rarely take time to enjoy when home. My timing was about the same as it had been the previous morning, on purpose. I wondered if the football team would be holding another practice. As I watched the small number of cars pass on the street, about one every five minutes. One of the trucks caught my attention. The driver happened to be the security guard who was seated at the practice field entrance, the previous day. The same gentleman who watched me walk past, as my left hand twitched. I watched his pick-up turn onto the street that separated the football stadium from the basketball coliseum and practice field. I reached for my breakfast pastry and thought, that had to be a good sign. There would still be some time to kill before they started practicing. I slowed down my breakfast, taking in the relaxed atmosphere of the quite surroundings.
There remained some extra time when I had finished my coffee. The Oregon State bookstore was just next door to the coffee shop. I had spent some time browsing the previous morning, but hadn’t made a purchase. Heading back through the doors on that day, it would be my final chance to get something. I’m always trying to remain disciplined when inside the Oregon State bookstore. Everything looks better with the Beaver logo plastered on it. After meandering around the shop, it had become the time they would probably be on the field. I walked out of the bookstore and instead of walking straight across the street, placing me in the same location as the previous day. I decided to experience the practice from the other side of the field. I was curious about another perspective of the workout. The new route took me along the other side of Gill Coliseum. Between the gym and the parking lot I had found earlier. Getting closer to the practice field, I could hear the music blasting. I saw a section of fence jetting out from the side of the athletic building that separated the basketball gym from the football practice field. Even though, the small section of fence had the black mesh lining on it, I could see reasonably well. There were linemen working on some drills. One of the drills I stood and watched, was most impressive.
Standing next to the bike rack outside of the student-athlete building. I watched a couple drills performed by offensive and defensive linemen groups. The first was the hitting of stationary pads in the shape of linemen. They sit on the end of extended arms, placing them at the right height for linemen extending out of his stance. It was an abbreviation of pushing the sled, because these guys weren’t moving the weight. They appeared to be working on technique. But, the drill that really caught my attention was the defensive linemen working on their swim move. Attempting to get around the outside of an offensive lineman. This drill was worked on with coaches holding tackling bags at about chest height. The players were required to remain low and use arm movement to free themselves around the outside. In an effort to simulate getting into the backfield. This was impressive to stand that close to and watch. These large men had an athletic ability that was jaw dropping. I have spent years watching them from the stands. But, to see them working on their craft up close, gave me a brand-new appreciation for their athletic ability. The movements were indescribably fluid with unbelievable balance, power, and control. It probably changed the way I will watch the defensive line. After watching these groups do some of their work. I was adequately mesmerized and excited for the season to begin.
Spending the evening in my hotel room felt happy. I had driven down to Corvallis for the that weekend without intent. My only objective was to get a break from bubbling emotion. There was a feeling of sadness when I arrived Thursday night. The surprise of watching Oregon State during some of their preparation for the season was uplifting. Almost instantly snapping me out of the clouds I felt above. Though, being in Corvallis often fills me with a jolt of hope. Reminding me of the accomplishment attained by receiving my degree from Oregon State. Watching practiced added to the feeling of hopefulness I associate with the town. As my night wound to a close, I suddenly heard the sound of fireworks. Given the time of year, I figured they would be only momentary. Leading me to remain in position and let the sound pass. But, it just kept going on until I finally went to look out the window. From my vantage point, I could see the fireworks lighting up the August night. They looked to be happening in the area of the football practice field. Leaving me to wonder, what might be the reason for celebration? I watched them for a few minutes, before letting the curtain fall back across the window. Whatever they were celebrating, I felt like it was a great ending to my weekend getaway. It doesn’t seem to happen often, but sometime we unexpectedly get exactly what we need.