Sunday, October 22, 2017

"If it's not your butt, don't touch it"

Everyone just ignore my obvious face cancer, doc says it's an overactive parotid gland. 

“I’ll be right back,” I said. “I’m going to shred some chicken for tacos.” 

“That’s fine,” Tye replied. “Throw some in a box and mail it to me.” 

I laughed and muted my gaming headset, mostly because of the ridiculous stuff that gets said in this house, and because Alicia won’t let me have a private gaming room where that stuff won’t get heard. 

I shredded the chicken and came back to a chuckling clan mate. 

“I just heard the best advice,” he said, barely able to speak through his laughter. “Your wife said, ‘If it’s not your butt, don’t touch it.’” 

“Kids,” was my succinct and exasperated reply. 

I’ve really got to make sure I start hitting the mute button better. 

•••

It’s 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and we’re not in church because I had photography plans today that were canceled by the rain. Somewhere, Brian Sloat is upset about that. 

Isaac woke up at 5:45 this morning, ready to start his day, and quite offended that the rest of us weren’t ready to start ours. He made this known through noises that, thankfully, I’m too deaf to hear, but I got up with Alicia anyway and headed to the living room. 

She fed him, then he griped until she stood him up and let him watch me play Destiny. I looked over at him, and he smiled. He smiled so wide he almost lost his pacifier, but he didn’t. He grinned at me every single time I glanced over for a solid ten minutes. It was inspiration an to me. 

“I will write,” I said to myself, “about baby smiles this morning. I will compare them to something also wonderful, and make the kind of allusions that will undoubtedly go viral on the social media.” 

My Muse was smiling at me, happiness personified, a very fat cherub with more chins than wings. It was a moment. 

I didn’t get up and write immediately, of course. I was in a game, trying to level up a character. I couldn’t quit then. 

The thought of the blog stayed with me for an hour or so, and from time to time I would formulate little ideas of how I would word things — powerful adjectives; not too heavy on the adverbs; and all of the other little things writers like to do when they’re putting something off. 

Then it happened. The 8 a.m. fight between Alicia and one of the boys, this time Aven. My Muse vanished, not a tangible thing after all, definitely not a smiling infant with drool running down his chins. 

•••

For the last couple of months, Drake has been a complete nightmare. We’re talking a “there’s a new hole in his bedroom wall because he chucked his bed frame (he’s five) into the sheetrock during a fit” nightmare. It was bad. After speaking with his doctor, the conclusion was drawn that part of his brain is underdeveloped due to drugs consumed in utero. 

He prescribed some ADHD medication that worked well with Aven. It did not work well for Drake. After a couple of weeks of tantrums and biting, a second doctor’s appointment was scheduled and a new medication prescribed. It’s working wonders. 

•••

I’m going to stop right there and talk a out something that is going to piss a lot of people off. I’m also going to use some language that might piss some folks off. I’m not here to apologize, and if you happen to be one of the pissed off folks, then I want you to do me a favor. Shut the browser down, and take ten minutes to think about it. Process it. I can promise you it took me longer than that to write and edit it. 

The kids’ bio family reads these blogs. They follow me on Facebook, and more than likely they are reading these words right now. They had to read that little bit up there about the drugs. 

I’m going to restate that: Drake’s biological mother just had to read that decisions she made as a nineteen-year-old have affected her child’s brain. 

Darlin’, if you’re reading this, I didn’t type it to make you feel bad. In fact, I want to tell you a story. 

The other day, Alicia texted me about the whole thing while she was at the doctor with Drake. She ended without blaming anyone. She told me about the medication he’d be taking and that was it. I was angry, and in anger I banged out a reply. 

“Fuck her,” I wrote. “Fuck her and her stupid ass decisions.” 

Drake caught this and then was scared to death to touch it. It's a lot like my wedding night.
My thumb hovered over the “send” button, but I didn’t press it. I still don’t know why. An incremental move to the left, a double tap, “select all,” and “cut” were pressed instead. I never sent that message. I’m done blaming you. You were young and dumb, and I’ve done plenty of dumb shit. I have had an affair. I did irreparable damage to my marriage and my relationship with my wife. I should have been divorced. However, I was shown grace. That grace led to us adopting three children. Those three children came to us swimming in the dumb shit that both you and I did. 

Grace hosed them off. 

It’s a hose I have to get under every day. There’s a long way to go before I forgive you completely, but anytime you want to use that hose…I invite you to it. 

•••

Drake has gotten better. However, Aven has stepped back up to the plate, doing his best to make everyone around him as angry as he is. He’s hateful, he’s sneaky, and he’s deceitful. We’ve basically taken our foot off of the brake and pushed on the gas, only to find out that some horrible mechanic has swapped our gas pedal for another brake. 

Things are not okay at the Sloat house. We’re covered in brake fluid and ADHD medication, pumping brake pedals like they belong to a vehicle in a Carrie Underwood song. The resulting collisions leave us covered in the viscous lifeblood of relationships with our children, our friends, and the people we work with. 

Grace keeps hosing us off. 

Photographer is Mandy Lundy, and she's incredible. Go check her out. 
I started this blog eight years ago with a simple purpose: I wanted to make you laugh. If I could go back in time and read all of these blogs before I posted them, I’m not sure my purpose would still have been the same. One thing is for sure, I never would have believed any of them actually would come true. Yet here I am; here we are; and this is reality: 

“If it’s not your butt, don’t touch it.” 

“You’ve been acting like a dickhead for the last two weeks.” 

“If I was Jesus I’d hide in the dark.” 

“I’ll have sex with you if you fix dinner and clean some stuff tomorrow.” 

“Those sweats make him look like he’s smuggling grapes.” 

“Maybe one day we’ll all die and then you can be happy.” 

“Yep, thank God. I’m gonna go get Taco Bell.” 

“I’m getting the kids McDonald’s because of their shots.” 

“Our children are stupid.” 

Maybe you’re laughing at us. Maybe you’re crying for us. Maybe you’re angry at us. It doesn’t matter. 

When you’re ready, just motion for us to scooch over, and we’ll make room for you under the hose. Until then, if it's not your butt, don't touch it. 

“Why do You even love me? 
Why do You even care? 
Why should You think of me? 
Oh my God, I’ll never know. 
Fire emoji times a million. 
It’s unconditional love,
The Grace Flood.” 

        - "Grace Flood" The OC Supertones

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Cleanin' out my closet

A post shared by Travis Sloat (@tstyles77) on

It happened a few weeks ago.

"Travis, you need to clean out your closet. I need hangers."

I laughed and went on about my business, trying not to give it a second thought. I did though, and a third, and a fourth. However, I never got around to cleaning out my closet.

Sunday though, it happened again.

"Travis, I got you these bags, you need to throw some clothes out, but if you want to keep them I understand. We're just going to put them in these bags."

I was cooking dinner for the family — nachos if we're being honest — and Akeeli was helping me. I laughed again, then stared at Alicia, trying to come up with something to say. A lump formed in my throat, and I felt tears coming in the corners of my eyes. I turned back to the hamburger sizzling on the stove and busily crumbled it, hoping the situation would resolve itself without me having to acknowledge it.

It almost did.

"Daddy, why did you laugh and then not say anything?"

•••••••••••••••••

I've heard a lot about Stockholm Syndrome, and I've always wondered how it's possible for a captive to have any positive feelings about their captor, much less sympathize with them. If someone ever abducted me, I always felt I would never fall victim to the mysterious psychological condition that is apparently so powerful, it led hostages in a Stockholm bank robbery to decide not to testify against those who held them captive.

My weight has abducted my happiness, healthiness, attractiveness, my self-esteem, my activity levels, and some of my relationships. It has taken more from me than I'll ever get back, particularly my health.

I've lost weight before. Back in 2010, I went on a run where I got from around 380 down to 300. It lasted approximately 10 weeks, and then the scale was tipping 360 once again. I couldn't maintain. I fell back into bad habits, and I got to the point where I didn't care anymore.

However, I loved Fat Travis. Fat Travis didn't care what people thought about him. Fat Travis knew he was fat and he took pride in that. Fat Travis didn't have to wear compression shirts to keep loose skin from jiggling underneath his shirts. Fat Travis just enjoyed food, he didn't count calories. Fat Travis was happier, Fat Travis was funnier, and Fat Travis took that one picture on a turtle one time.

Fat Travis was an awesome abductor. He wasn't an inherently bad guy, he just made some bad choices. He wasn't keeping me hostage with the intent of killing me, he just wanted to not have to worry about self-control. He enjoyed the lack of responsibility, because Fat Travis hated responsibility and accountability.

Fat Travis is a good guy, really. Don't hate him. I don't, and there are also days when I miss him.

•••••••••••••••••

So when my daughter asked that question: "Daddy, why did you laugh and not say anything?" it slapped me in the face and brought me back to reality. Tears threatened once again, and I fought the urge to lie to her. Instinctively though, I knew she needed the truth.

"I don't believe it's going to last."

"Oh."

I went back to cooking, and she went back to helping, and Alicia wound up knowing exactly how I was feeling, thank God. Later that afternoon, I went to play a game of basketball, and when I got home, she motioned to the closet.

"I took care of the closet. It seemed like you were having trouble. I didn't throw all of it out though, some of it is just bagged up."

There are sixteen million reasons why I love my wife. This is one of them.
I don't know if this will stick. I'm trying my hardest, though. If it does, then I'll get to look back ten years from now and wonder why in the world I didn't do it sooner. If it doesn't...well, maybe my struggle will motivate someone to never let it get this bad to begin with. Maybe my beautiful daughter will realize the mental struggles her father dealt with about his weight, and it will help her say no to another plate of pizza and yes to a salad.

But for now, a large chunk of me is gone. Success, I'm told, is kind of like being pregnant. Everyone is happy for you, but nobody knows how many times you got screwed. The plot line of my journey isn't something you could ski down, instead, it looks more like someone having a heart attack.

I am also taking steps to surround myself with people who support what I'm trying to do, even if it leads to me throwing out three-quarters of a brick of Velveeta.




I'll continue to fight. I'll continue to grind. I'll continue to repeat.

I guess I'll also continue to try to make space for my success. Even if it hurts.

Monday, March 27, 2017

On not being allowed to fail


Image credit

Many of you know (all too well, I'm sorry, well, actually I'm not, it's amazing) about my transformation over the last nine months. You know about Chris at Reform Strength and Conditioning, and you know that if you don't think you have the money for it, you really do, you're just spending it on things that make you fatter. 

I've bumped my workouts to four a week, and I'm making huge strides in the gym right now. I have never in my life been stronger than I am now, even in high school. Weight loss has plateaued, if only because I still have struggles with food addictions that I'm doing my best to break (I will NOT eat candy before bed, I will NOT eat chips before bed, I will NOT eat an entire double quarter pounder and three Filet 'O Fishes before bed). 

I got my first four week plan from Chris the other day, and I started in on it after asking him a bajillion questions he promptly answered even after he'd already provided video instructions (love you). 

The first week, I felt good after I finished my decline dumbbell presses, but I didn't feel like I challenged myself. I decided to challenge myself the second week, and I felt even better, even though I didn't complete four sets with the same weight. 

So I set a goal. Use the 45s for all four sets. 

I GET A BREAK ON WEEK FOUR THANK YOU BABY JESUS

When I looked at the app today, I saw what I wrote last week, grabbed the 45s from the rack and leaned back on the bench. I put the weight up twelve times, felt a wobble at the end, but dropped them with a sense of satisfaction. Round two went much the same. 

Before I started round three, a buddy of mine walked in with his mom. I like this guy, as far as that goes. He's one of those guys that would give you the shirt off his back and smile while he was doing it. He sat down, asked me how I was, told me he was through with his workout, and started looking at his phone. 

I threw the weight up. Once, twice, three...ten times. The tenth one got me, I'm not going to lie to you folks. Serious wobble, and a dip at the top that almost resulted in a 45-pound weight coming down to rearrange my overall gorgeous facial construction. 



I saw a blur out of the corner of my eye, and then a face above me. 

"How many more?"

"Two." 

"Do it." 

I lowered the weights, then got them halfway back up. A slap against my elbows and the weights were at the top. Lowered, another slap, at the top. Set three was in the books. 

"Thanks," I said. 

"No problem." 

A couple minutes later I was ready to start round four. Having needed a spot the last set, and not wanting to bother anyone this set, I walked over to the rack and I picked up two 40-pound dumbbells. 

I got to my bench, got ready to sit down, and I looked up. He was looking at me. 

"You've got 45s in you." 

I opened my mouth.

"Travis. You've got 45s in you." 

I set down the 40s and picked up the 45s. I knew I didn't have them in me, heck, I would wind up having them inside my brain by six reps. 

I laid down on the bench, opened my eyes, and this guy was there. 

He let me get through eight reps on my own. I couldn't believe I got that many, to be honest. The ninth rep though, wasn't happening. 

A slap. Nine happened. 

A push. Ten happened. 

"Squeeze it at the top." 

Another slap, another push. Eleven happened. 

"C'mon. One more. Do it." 

His hands never left my elbows, and I think it was more him than me, but twelve happened. I threw the weights across the room (dropped them pathetically), and opened my eyes. He was gone, sitting back down, going through his phone. 

It didn't hit me until the drive home. 

I wasn't allowed to do less than I was capable of, and I wasn't allowed to fail.

I'll add this. I had tuna for lunch. I spit when I exhale. When my head is lower than my feet, my face turns a sort of odd purplish-red color, kind of like a grape about to go bad. 

I was not easy to help. It didn't matter. I wasn't allowed to fail. 

As a teacher, I come across all sorts of kids. Some kids don't want to try, some want to try but don't have the means, and some are completely capable with school work, but are socially awkward. 

What if I didn't allow my kids to fail? 

Some of them aren't pretty. Some of them might have had tuna for lunch, and some might not have showered for a week. Some might spit when they talk, and some might not talk at all. 

Some are not easy to help. It doesn't matter. They shouldn't be allowed to fail. 

What if, as educators, we began to look through the lens of this guy at the gym? What if we took the too cool to try kids, the socially inept, the nose pickers, and we didn't let them fail? What if we carried this attitude through an entire school day. An entire month, a year? 

"Hey kid, put the 40s down. You've got 45s in you. Yes you do. Two more. One more. Finish this." 

It might be unrealistic. Some don't want the help yet, some don't want it at all. However, we owe it to them to try. We live in a world that encourages trophies for participation, results that happen overnight, and exerting as little effort as is required to reach the goal. 

Hand 'em the 45s. Push them. Don't let them fail. 

And Zac, thank you. You did more than just help me lift weight in the air. You didn't let me fail. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Figuring it out

Look at that enormous Sloat head. 
I'm typing this from the doctor's office. We're here for a checkup on Isaac, making sure he's growing like he should and hoping he won't be covering his face for the next ultrasound. 

I'm about to be brutally honest with you, and I hope you can forgive me for it. 

I don't want four kids. 

Up until this morning, I have been dreading Isaac's arrival, I've been worrying about my money, my time, and the fact that I've got three adopted children who might grow up holding a grudge against our sole biological child. 

Akeeli, Aven, and Drake, if you're reading this, I need you to know I never loved you any less than Isaac. Not for one second. I know you can't help feeling like you might feel, but listen: I love you more than you could ever imagine. I love you so much I'd die for you. 

On the way to Tulsa this today, I had to drop my truck off in Wagoner to get the oil changed. This is in no way a sponsored post, but the guys at Kevin Grover are seriously the best, and one in particular slapped me in the face with some truth this morning. 

He walked over to me, and I spent some time trying to figure out if I was looking at his smile or the sun. That's Neil being Neil though. I've never thought of him as car salesman, he's a friend who happens to be exceptionally skilled at getting me to spend huge sums of money on things with four wheels. 

My son weighs 2.6 pounds today. He's grown tremendously in the last two weeks. 

We're sitting in the lab now, waiting on blood to be drawn. In fact, I'm almost positive Alicia is actually reading what I type as I type it. She's talking about how much Isaac has grown over the past couple of weeks, and saying that he better slow down. I think she's finally realizing that when you have a giant for a husband, his kids might be huge too. I don't know, maybe just my head is giant. 

Back to Neil. He came over and shook my hand. 

"Two things to congratulate you for, Travis. One, you look fantastic, and two, your newest little one!" 

Everyone always does that. If they're familiar with our situation at all, they're so excited for us; for me. I get that, and I'm thankful for the empathy, but up until today, it was a forced smile, forced enthusiasm. So I smiled back at him, and I gave my prototypical response. 

"Aww, thanks! Be excited for her though, I don't want four kids." 

Neil didn't even blink. 

"Oh stop that, Travis. You've created an eternal soul." 

I'm alone now, Alicia has gone back to have her blood drawn, and I'm fighting tears as I type this. It's me and one old lady in the waiting room, and I don't need her wondering why the behemoth four chairs down is blubbering quietly into his cell phone. 

We've created an eternal soul. 

My son is an eternal soul. 

Isaac is an eternal soul. 

Somewhere in my brain a switch flipped. I took a couple of confused steps and finally spit out a response. 

"Thank you, Neil. I've never looked at it like that." 

"I'll leave you guys alone, I know you've got a busy day planned!" 

He bounced away, frustratingly happy, unaware of the chaos he'd just wreaked in my brain. Unaware of his creating a tectonic shift in the pangean plate that is my selfishness. 

You see, that's all it is, selfishness. One thing I've discovered since having children is that I am, by nature, a selfish person. I didn't realize that until after we'd adopted the kids, but it's true. I am a selfish person. I want my time, my money, my stuff, my wife. I, I, I, I. 

I'm not saying all that changed instantly. I know somewhere between now and the next eighteen years, I'm going to be selfish. But I was given a new way to look at things today. I have four eternal souls that I am now responsible for. Five and six if you count mine and my wife's, and that's a whole lot of souls to be in charge of. 

My dad figured it out. I don't know how, but he figured it out. Reading his writings from when I was a kid, I know he was frustrated, unsure of himself as a father, and selfish. But at some point he cracked the code. He figured it out, and he took responsibility for the eternal souls he'd helped create, and he did a damn fine job of it. 

Now I'm back at the doctor's office, waiting for my beautiful wife and my son to come back from getting a shot, which is apparently what you have to do when your husband's blood (A+), has a higher GPA than yours (A-). We'll leave here and go pick up two other sons and a daughter, all of which are mine

Today is a new day. Today I was verbally slapped by a friend who has obviously figured some of it out. 

Thanks, Neil. 

Here she comes. Gotta go. I'm gonna try figure it out. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

#OklaEd chat questions for March 12

Photo credit
Well, someone somewhere messed up and gave me the keys to the pound sign Oklahoma Education (#OklaEd) chat on Sunday night.

My topic? How to help students succeed with "real life" English Language Arts (ELA) skills. I have a bee in my bonnet about prepping students for the workforce, and not just for the state tests they have to take. If that means they get through my class without knowing what a gerund is, but they can send their boss an email with the correct homophones in place, I feel like I've done my job.

I was asked to preview the questions in a blog, so here they are. I will give you my answers on Sunday evening, and I very much look forward to hearing yours as well.

Thank you, educators of Oklahoma, for what you do for our kids.

  1. Introduce yourself. Have you ever gotten a work email with spelling/grammar mistakes? How did you react?
  2. What ELA skills do you find yourself using the most at your job(s)? 
  3. What ELA skills do you think our students need to learn before they graduate? 
  4. How are you helping teach those skills to your students while staying inside your subject area? 
  5. How are you effectively demonstrating those skills to your students? 
  6. Do you use writing as a punishment (essays, sentences, words, lines, etc.)?
  7. How can you specifically alter your lessons next school year to teach some of these “real life” ELA skills? 
  8. Do you show your writing to your classes? Do you write in real time on SmartBoards, etc.? 
  9. Do you think it’s important for your students to see you make “real-world” writing mistakes (as long as you correct them)?
  10. Do you have a policy/reward system in place for when a student catches a typo/grammar mistake you’ve made? 
Have a great rest of the week, and I'll see you on Sunday!

Follow me on the Twitter here: @tstyles77

Monday, March 6, 2017

One


Let us not forget Lloyd's eyeball, lost in the battle. 

"Defeat, my Defeat, my deathless courage,
You and I shall laugh together with the storm,
And together we shall dig graves for all that die in us,
And we shall stand in the sun with a will,
And we shall be dangerous.

- Kahlil Gribran

One more.

One more trip to Oklahoma City. One more trip to the Big House. One more game. One more piece of hardware for the trophy case.

You gave that to us, Mustangs. You did. You gave us one more.

When you walk into the hall, there are still streamers and small basketballs hanging from the ceiling. There is still paint on the door, telling you to go get the gold. There are still signs on your locker that say, "State Bound."

All of these reminders of what happened on Saturday night. If I had to imagine, painful reminders. I'm here to tell you they shouldn't be.

You gave me one more chance to go see my favorite team from my favorite school play in my favorite place: the state final.

And let us not forget Coach Clark's tie, which remained the entire game on Saturday.
You gave me one more chance to hang out with friends I hadn't seen in forever.

You gave me one more chance to tell your story.

You also gave me one more chance to spend approximately $250 on food for the weekend, but we're not going to focus on that, believe me, my beautiful and loving and kind and forgiving (did I mention beautiful) wife has focused on it plenty.

You can't see it very well in this pic, but that bucket had a lid on it. 

When the final horn sounded on Saturday night, I didn't see anyone on the floor hang their heads. I didn't see anyone cursing, throwing a fit, or mouthing off to the other team. I saw what we all hope to see in the young men who represent our school: dedication, not defeat; pride, not self-pity; and sportsmanship, not petulance.

You gave me one more chance to be incredibly proud of my school, my town, and my students.

Marcus literally cannot believe how high Caleb is jumping here. 
Also, can we be honest, just for a second, and say that you almost gave me one more heart attack on Friday night? No one had hopes of winning that game. I do not care what anyone tells you, no one thought you would pull that off. But you did, and you did it in such a way that gives this amazing town one more story to tell about that time in the state tournament when a miracle happened.

You also gave one more chance to someone to score a basket in a state final. You did that. You gave that to him. He will never forget it, and neither will anyone who saw it.

"Travis, I'm sorry, I tried to take a good picture but I was crying." - Alicia
So was I, babe. So was everyone. 
As an aside, I would also like to thank the Ft. Cobb-Broxton players who helped make that happen.

So, Mustangs, if I see you in the hallway with your head down, I will address it. I will remind you that greatness is not measured in the color of your trophy, but in your character, in your work ethic, and in the way you represent our town. And for those, Mustangs, you get the gold.

For those, you are number one.

Thank you.

"Between the pavement and the stars,
beneath the weight of years of scars,
burns the same soul -
paint the sky blue.
Hallelujah,
you're still you." 

- Reese Roper

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Two

Two seconds.

Specifically, 1.9 seconds. But I'm rounding up because it's my blog and my story. So two.

Two seconds separated the Okay Mustangs from a loss in the semi-final round, packing up and driving home.

If you were there, you know what happened. If you weren't, you probably still know what happened. It was, in my opinion, the single greatest two seconds of basketball I've ever watched, and I watched Christian Laettner hit "the shot" in 1992.

I have hugged, I believe, everyone at the Big House this evening. I have done irreparable damage to my heart. I got real close to saying a bad word on Facebook.

And I sent this text before it happened.

I know I should be ashamed. But I'm a pragmatist.

It's now 7 a.m. on Saturday morning. Everything above this was typed when I got home last night, on an adrenaline-laced jag that made for great Facebook posts, but not so much in the inspiration department. 

So now I'm sitting here, staring at the computer, and hoping that somehow, words will appear on the screen the way the ball appeared in Caleb's hand last night. I guess I could set a timer on my phone for 1.9 seconds and add a little pressure. 

If you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you know I do a lot of talking about pure moments of happiness. Hopefully, everyone reading this knows what I'm talking about; hopefully all of you have experienced one. A moment in your life which causes so much joy, it temporarily blocks out every other thing in your life. You are lost in that moment. 

I believe these moments can't be directly obtained, they have to be gifted to you. I've been fortunate enough to have a few given to me. Last night I got another one. 

It had gone terribly, the end of that game. We built a lead, then lost it, and then to top it all off made a couple of bad decisions late that took some wind out of the Mustang sails. 

I watched fans head for the exits. I don't blame them, I was mentally preparing for the drive home, thinking about whether or not I wanted to spend another night in the city. I sent Alicia the above text. I checked out. 

I vaguely remember Ben Smith looking over and saying, "Anything can happen." 

The stage was set for Pond Creek-Hunter. They had overcome the number two team in the state, and they were headed for the championship game. I've seen a news article that said Chad had told the team not to contest the pass, then changed his mind. I can't tell you how valuable it is to have a coach who won't give up. I played for one. 

I'm not sure when the moment happened for Caleb Riggs. I'm not sure if it was the walk out to the floor to finish a game he probably didn't still want to be in, or if it was something in the PCH guy's eyes that triggered it. Maybe he never doubted, I don't know. I can definitively say he was not preparing himself to be on every highlight video the OSSAA makes for state tournaments from now until the end of time. 

The referee blew the whistle, handed the ball to the kid from PCH, and what happened next was something the town of Okay will talk about until we're all old and gray and wear the bottoms of our trousers rolled. 


Time stopped. The collective intake of breath from both sides of the stadium could have vacuum sealed an entire year's worth of saltine cracker packages. And then...

Anything happened.

If you'd like to see it from more angles than a dodecahedron, you can click here.

As an educator, an English teacher, and a "Literary Man," I feel it very important to maintain a firm grasp of the English language at all times, both to keep up appearances and because of some sort of inner piousness, I don't know, don't judge me. 

But after that shot, I lost the ability to make words with my fingers. 

All caps because, well, the situation warranted all caps. 

On March 4, 2016, I typed these words: "Book the hotel rooms, Mustang fans. We'll be back next year. And I hope Fort Cobb-Broxton is there in the final, Goliath vs. Goliath, four or five moments away from another shot at a gold ball."

Well, Fort Cobb is in the final, just like us. Waiting. Gunning for their third title in a row, and with the chops to do it. 

But we have guys who don't give up. Gritty players and coaches who stare loss in the face and defy it, challenge it, who beat the odds and overcome. 

Our little town of Okay was once known as Rex. Rex is Latin for "King." Author F. Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American lives, and I beg to differ. The Kings vs. Goliath, Act II happens tonight at 7 p.m.

Last year I closed by saying how proud we all are of you, Mustangs, and that pride is still there. We are grateful for the moments you've given us, and we're standing behind you tonight. 

Now finish the job. 

"You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise."

- Maya Angelou