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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: In and Out (04/30/09)

TITLE: Benched
By Kristen Hester


The sound of our cleats on the concrete echoed off the walls as we nervously jumped around the steamy corridor that would lead us onto the football field. The air was a thick mix of sweat, testosterone and adrenaline.

“Ladies and gentlemen, your Chesterfield Eagles!” The announcers words were our cue. The crowd was on their feet, yelling as the cheerleaders flipped their way across the field in front of us. We charged through the huge banner and in seconds destroyed what had taken the cheerleaders hours to make.

After the coin toss, the players took their positions on the field and I took my regular spot on the bench as the second-string quarterback.

On our first offensive snap, the first-stringer, Evan, desperately searched for an open receiver. I winced as two large opponents dog-piled him behind the line of scrimmage. Over the crowd I heard him swear as he picked himself up and dusted off his pants.

“You got to look ‘em up before you throw the ball,” Coach yelled to Evan when his next pass failed to connect with a receiver. Two more incomplete passes forced Evan and our offense to the sidelines.

“I’m not getting any time out there, Coach.” Evan kicked the bench in anger. I handed Evan a water bottle, which he took without a thank you. “My sorry blockers aren’t protecting me,” he yelled loudly.

The second half of the game didn’t improve for Evan, but the game remained close.

“Coach ought to put you in,” Darren, my best friend and fellow bench warmer murmured the same as he did every game.

“What? After the shape of my rump is so nicely worn into the bench,” I responded, but knew he was right. I had done all I could to prove I was worthy of the title QB1. I worked harder and did better in practice than Evan, who was arrogant and disrespectful. I even had the team’s support, but Coach wouldn’t give me a chance.

Despite a scoreless offense, our defense held the other team to six points.

“Come on guys. Give me more time to throw the ball,” Evan yelled.

“Evan,” the coach called after signaling a time out.

“What do you want?” he snapped disrespectfully.

Coach’s face turned red. He pulled off his hat and pointed to the bench. “You’re out.”

Everyone had been watching the duo, but at Coach’s words, I felt my teammate’s stares turn toward me.

My heart pounded as Coach looked me in the eyes. The sides of his mouth turned up just a bit as he spoke. “You’re in.”

As I fastened my helmet, Evan threw his down and kicked it towards the stands. He then took the spot on the bench I had vacated.

Dozens of hands patted my backside as I left the sidelines and headed toward the huddle where ten Eagles looked to me for direction. The roar of the crowd inspired me as I confidently shared the game plan.

When the center snapped the ball, everyone seemed to move in slow motion. I backed up, then tossed a screen pass to number twelve, who was in the right spot. He easily caught the ball and advanced twenty yards for a first down.

The fans were on their feet for the next play. I dropped back and looked left and right, but couldn’t find an open receiver. I looked down field and saw a clear pathway to the end zone. I tucked the ball under my arm and sprinted my way to a touchdown as the game clock expired.

As quickly as the exuberance hit me, so did a feeling of reverent gratefulness. Without thinking, I kneeled in the end zone. “Thank you, Lord.”

With the score tied, my hands were clammy as I held the ball for our kicker. The crowd erupted into mass celebration when the ball sailed through the uprights for the game winning extra point. My teammates lifted me up as they danced around the field.

When Coach approached us, they put me down. He extended his hand to me. I wondered if the others noticed that his eyes were damp. “I’m as proud of tonight as I have been every other night of your life.”

“Why did it take you so long to put me in, Dad?”

“I never wanted anyone to doubt that you deserved that spot. And I knew that once I put you in, I wouldn’t ever want to take you out.”

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This article has been read 935 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/07/09
I really enjoyed the "game" and loved the twist at the end. Good writing.
Sara Harricharan 05/07/09
Oh AWESOME twist! You really had me going there. I was all ready to rip apart this coach who wasn't seeing this kid's potential. LOL! Excellent, excellent job here! I loved it. I did want to see a little more of what made Evan so horrible, but I guess the word count had something to do with that. I just felt sorry for him, more than anything. Good job though! I love stories with the underdog!
Micheline Murray05/08/09
Having 3 kids in sports, and a husband who coaches--this is definitely close to home! Great story-coaches usually have a method to their madness--glad this one's was revealed.
Charla Diehl 05/09/09
Great story--great message--liked the surprise ending too. Thumbs up on writing this to fit the topic perfectly.
Sonya Leigh05/09/09
Terrific sports piece! Very enjoyable story, even for some who may not be sports fans (like me). Good job.
Karlene Jacobsen05/11/09
Patience! Wait! Your time to shine will come!

These are the words that flew through my brain as I read this story. Then to find out WHO was the coach. Kinda makes me think this could cross as an object lesson in the kingdom of God.

Excellent story.
Betty Castleberry05/12/09
Well, pass me the knee warmer blanket and the thermos of cocoa. You know your football, doncha?

I enjoyed reading this well written piece. LOVE the twist at the end.
Bryan Ridenour05/12/09
Great story and loved the surprise ending. Well done.
Loren T. Lowery05/12/09
This story had my adrenaline flowing in the play by play action. Great characterization, realistic and not too stereotyped. The ending, with the dad showed wisdom, the son's doubts turned into a great win-win lesson.
Lollie Hofer05/12/09
I LOVE football. You did a great job with capturing the essence that is football from beginning to end. Oh, the father's words at the end of the story were priceless.
Shelley Ledfors 05/12/09
Ooh! VERY good. I love twists. I had thought earlier that maybe the first string QB was related to the coach, but hadn't thought of it the other way. Well done!
Chely Roach05/12/09
You're making me itch for football season! Great story...wonderfully told...and I LOVED the last line! Well done!
Patricia Herchenroether05/12/09
I'm not a sports fan, but I loved your story and your ending tackled (oops-tickled) me!
Mona Purvis05/13/09
Being the grandmother of boys, 13,14,16, I really get it. Very good take on the topic. We sit on the sidelines and wait for our boys to get in, too.
Dee Yoder 05/13/09
Wow, perfect! I was in that game every minute! I love that ending, too.
Janice Fitzpatrick05/13/09
Oh, I really like this and having two sons who played sports in high school and now college I totally can relate to this. I like the suprise ending. Kudos to you for being able to write a believable realistic sports piece with success and no one would even know a female wrote it. Way to go!! Yes!!! Great job hon. God bless.:0))))
Kimberly Russell05/13/09
I may not know much about football but this scored a touchdown from me! It flowed very nicely and I especially loved the twist at the end. Terrific.
Sheri Gordon05/13/09
Love this story...the ending was awesome. Love football, and Friday Night Lights. Great writing, and great take on the topic.
Yvonne Blake 05/14/09
Ahh... loved the ending!
Janice Fitzpatrick05/14/09
CONGRATS! I loved this story!! YAY! Good job Woohoo!!Keep up the excellent writing hon!!
Beth LaBuff 05/14/09
GREAT story! ... I couldn't wait for one of your signature "twist endings". Congrats on top honors!
Sheri Gordon05/14/09
Congratulations on your 1st place, Kristen. Great writing.
Myrna Noyes05/14/09
I don't know much about football, but I do know this is a GREAT story! :) It fit the topic so perfectly, and I did love the surprise ending! CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR 1ST PLACE EC!!
Sara Harricharan 05/14/09
WOOT!!! Congrats on your 1st place EC! That is totally awesome! ^_^
Kathy Gronau 05/14/09
Congratulations! Thats a great story
Connie Dixon05/14/09
This is a really cool story. Congratlations on your first place win.
Glynis Becker05/14/09
Fantastic job! Sports stories have a way of telling all kinds of truths in an entertaining way and your certainly didn't disappoint. Congratulations!
Marita Thelander 05/14/09
Ah. While the story was somewhat predictable, the ending did catch me and brought it all together quite nicely. Well done and congratulations.
Pam Carlson-Hetland05/15/09
Wow!! Great job, fantastic writing, Kristen. I'm so happy to see your 1st EC win!
Rhonda Schrock05/19/09
Congratulations on your win! Great story line. I live with all men and couldn't begin to write about the game like that. Way to go.