Sports Fan

I always felt like a disappointment to my dad. He was a sports fan. I wasn’t. This letter nails it.

1946 Jamestown Blue Jays: Louie is # 84. Ernie Gates to the left. Photo by King Studio, Jamestown ND

1946 Jamestown Blue Jays: Louie is # 84. Ernie Gates to the left. Photo by King Studio, Jamestown ND. Click to see the large version.

Louie’s football coach in high school was Ernie Gates. As luck would have it Ernie was still the Phy Ed teacher and football coach when I came through high school. Ernie had high hopes for me. Then we tried push-ups and the rope climb. Louie describes both below. My record for the rope climb was I maybe made it to the top once. Maybe not. For push-ups, let’s just say that I didn’t make it to double digits. I probably still can’t, but I no longer try.

Ernie was disappointed. So was I. I didn’t tell Louie.

The one bright spot in my high school Phy Ed career was volleyball. One year we played volleyball every gym class for weeks. Somehow Ernie assigned me to a team that was incredibly good. Just being around the guys who could play made me better. Ernie even made up new rules to make it tougher for us to beat the other teams. I’ve loved volleyball ever since. We played church league, IBM leagues, and we’ve been to professional volleyball games and watched several matches at the Montreal Olympics.

The low point in Louie’s thoughts about me and football may have been when I was in college. NDSU had a good team for a couple of years. I went to a game or two. Louie was serving in Korea then, and the Bison made the news over there. He told his army buddies that I played on the team. Oh, well, everyone’s a disappointment to someone. I made up for it in other ways, but I don’t watch or play competitive sports.

Louie immediately to the right of front post, partially obscured. Louis to the left of the post, second in dark suit. 1946 Football banquet. Photo by King Studio, Jamestown ND

Louie immediately to the right of front post, partially obscured. Louis to the left of the post, second in dark suit. 1946 Football banquet. Click for larger version.

Louie writes:

This old man (fella) is a real sports fan – it goes way back to my high school days. I loved listening to football games on the radio and wishing that I was one of those stars.

I didn’t get into any sports until my junior year in high school and then wasn’t up to my own expectations.

In my senior year, I excelled in football and was named to the “All State” first team. I played left tackle on both offense and defense – missing about three minutes play in the entire season and loving every minute of it.

Basketball wasn’t my calling – ended up as “Doc” Lou or manager in my senior year and the team was runner-up in the state championships losing to Grand Forks in the final.

Track – I did fairly good – took first place in the state championship meet in the Pentathlon (five events). 100 yard dash. sergeant jump, push-ups, sit-ups, and a 20 foot rope climb, starting from a sitting position (did that in 6 seconds flat) did the 100 yard dash in 10.4 – not bad for a guy born with that foot point the wrong way.

Erine Gates Football Field, Jamestown, ND

Ernie Gates Football Field, Jamestown, ND

Hockey – was goalie – we never had a winning season – softball – forget it.

But, I loved the sport for the competition and the team work – I still feel that even losing your a winner because you were in there giving it your best.

Louie Letter 101