Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

West, Our Alma Mater

by Robison Wells

Thomas Wolfe once wrote: "He saw now that you can't go home again--not ever. There was no road back." This was in Wolfe's book You Can't Go Home Again. It was dedicated to a son who had moved out, got his MBA, couldn't find a job and wanted to move back in. (His son's name was Rob.)

No, actually the quote refers to how things change and you can never go back to the way they once were. Heraclitus similarly said that "It is impossible to step into the same river twice." And thus ends my Wikipedia research into the topic.

What I actually want to talk about is how my wife and I went to our old high school's football game last week, and it was fairly disappointing.

Let me set the scene: we were going on a date, and we suffer from crippling, Dickensian poverty. So, why not go to a high school football game!? Also: I was suffering from crippling, Dickensian swine flu (aka "hamthrax"). So, why not go sit in the cold for several hours and cough on teenagers!? (Have no fear, however, because no teenagers were in attendance. More on that later.)

Here are the details. I went to West High School, which is the holiest of all high schools, as evidenced by the fact that President Monson also attended it. (Sidenote: President Monson also got an MBA from BYU.) (Coincidence??? I think not.) (What I'm saying is that he and I are somewhat academically similar in a few minor details.)

Anyway, back in the day (when I was a freshman), West High took state in football, and we were really awesome, and all other high schools bowed to us and left flowers on the front steps. Ever since then, we've kind of sucked. (Translated: we really really suck.)

In the local newspaper's football preview, they quoted a West High player as saying "We have the noodles, we have the cheese, we have the milk, we have the butter," Scott said. "We just need to get the temperature right and stir it. That's all we need to do." I think he makes an excellent point: West High is better at home ec than at football.

Anyway, last week's game was at Olympus High, which is a rich kid high school. They're a decent team, I guess, if you like winning. (The newspaper preview quoted the coach as saying "'That's definitely our goal here and that's the expectations of our community -- that we compete for a region and state championship,' Smith said.")

(Awesome sidenote: the top two notable Olympus alumni listed on Wikipedia are: Karl Rove and Mark Hoffman (murderer). Compare that to West's President Thomas S. Monson. I think we've learned an important lesson.)

So, we at least expected an exciting game, even though Olympus Titans were going to destroy the West High Macaroni and Cheeses. But what was the actual score? 7-6. But that's because it was a fierce defensive battle, right? No. It's because they both sucked.

Man, I haven't gone to a high school football game since I graduated oh-so-many years ago. Do they all stink like this? I swear that some of the players had never seen a football before, let alone contemplated what they were supposed to do with it.

This was exacerbated by refs who had apparently never watched a game. Now, I know that everyone complains about refs, but my complaining is 100% legitimate. Here's a question (because high school football rules might be different from college rules): can two personal fouls be called on the same team on the same play? And can the refs then give a 30-frickin'-yard penalty to that team? If so, that's crap. I mean, I don't doubt that the West High players were throwing punches; that's what we do over there. But 30 yards? That's ridiculous. (It was probably because our punches could have damaged the expensive dental work of the Olympus High Pretty Boys, and, as was readily apparent, the refs' sole responsibility was ensuring that Olympus suffer no harm whatsoever, physical, mental or psychological.) (West got a ten yard penalty for "Hurting the Feelings of the Passer".)

Anyway. The game wasn't the most appalling part of the evening. That honor is bestowed on the students in the crowd. (I'm defining "crowd" here as "three kids, not sitting next to each other".) I lay the blame for the lack of students solely on the shoulders of the Olympus student body. After all, it was an away game for West, and they suck, so you can't expect too many Macaroni and Cheesers to travel all the way across town. (I don't doubt many of them did, but then they decide to burglarize the rich people's homes instead of attend the game.)

Perhaps I'm being too harsh. By the end of the first quarter, there was a good little student section in the Olympus bleachers. They just weren't watching the game. When things would happen, good or bad, there was generally no reaction from the jabbering students. When Olympus scored a touchdown--and I'm not making this up--there was about a twenty second delay before the students cheered, because they weren't watching. (Here's my hypothesis: they were all looking at their phones, and one of their parents texted them that Olympus had scored. Then that student posted it as his Facebook status. That's how the others found out.)

(As a sidenote: here's one area where West was superior: cheerleaders. This isn't to say that West's cheerleaders were phenomenal, but I swear, I have never seen a more apathetic, uninterested bunch of cheerleaders than Olympus's. I promise this is true: at one point a little girl who couldn't have been more than four years old went out and stood with the cheerleaders--and she was more on-beat than sixty percent of them.)

(Another sidenote, which will probably cause embarrassment if any students google "Olympus High School Cheerleaders" and find this blog: my wife had to use the bathroom before the game and found herself in the restroom with the cheerleaders while they were doing their hair and painting their faces. One girl is reported to have said "I want to put Spencer's number on my cheek. But then everyone will think that I like him." Someone replied "You totally like him!" She said "I do not!" So, if Spencer is reading this: you've heard the absolute truth: just because she painted your number on her face, she doesn't really like you. Duh.)

Anyway. It was still loads of fun. And there was a parent behind us who kept shouting extremely violent advice to the West High players. That's what we do over there. It makes you wonder how President Monson turned out so good.


At 10/20/2009 2:33 PM, Blogger CTW said...

All I know about West High was whenever our school--Orem High--played West they had to take police protection for the cheerleaders!

At 10/20/2009 2:48 PM, Blogger Heather Justesen said...

Man, those poor West High students had to travel *all the way across town* to play their biggest rivals? No wonder no one showed up.

Okay, in case it didn't come through, that was extreme sarcasm. But then, I have the feeling that there was a tiny bit of exaggeration on your part (which, I know is completely out of character for you!). =) Sorry it was so cold and miserable and a boring game. I was probably curled up with my laptop and something munchy--are you jealous?

At 10/20/2009 3:03 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

CTW: admittedly, West's reputation is much worse than reality. Even when I was there (graduated in 96), it had cleaned up quite a bit. We even got lights back on our football field (they'd been taken off so that that it would be impossible to play night games, since they were so dangerous).

Heather: Olympus wasn't our rival. East is our rival. Sadly, West got too big (or East got too small) and we're no longer in the same division. I don't know if we have a rival anymore.

(And if the students who do come are too lazy to even look at the field, coming all the way across town to go to the game must be an enormous burden.)

At 10/20/2009 3:29 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

Seriously, you're the funniest human being I've ever met. I literally laughed out loud more in this post than I have in days. Mac and Cheesers... =]

At 10/20/2009 4:06 PM, Blogger Th. said...


I didn't go to high school football games because I don't care for hypothermia. I took my boys to a came two Fridays ago and let me tell you: a 61-0 victory isn't much more entertaining. I was bored out of my mind.

But then, I think football's boring under the best of circumstances. I would like a you-got-15-seconds-to-get-back-on-the-line rule. Seriously. Football is 95% pause.

At 10/20/2009 4:23 PM, Blogger TJandMaryBronley said...

Ah, high school football. The joys of going and screaming at refs who think they're big shots and teenagers who think they're better than they really are. I really miss it in all honesty. I'm actually going to a kid's pre-high-school game next week, I hope, to see him play. I used to be his Sunday School teacher. I doubt he'll use the lessons I taught him off the field, on the field. But it's fun to say I know the person I'm cheering for. Thanks for the memories Robison.

At 10/20/2009 4:42 PM, Blogger Dallas said...

Ah...9th grade state champs. That was a fun year to be a panther.

At 10/20/2009 8:12 PM, Blogger Anna said...

Sweet. Another 96'er. I graduated from Box Elder. Our rivals were/are Bear River High School. The only two high schools in the county.

I remember our school playing against someone in Rice Eccles Stadium one year. I don't remember who though. It was someone in Salt Lake...I think. I just remember it being WAY close. Sadly, I also don't remember who won.

At 10/20/2009 9:08 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

Definitely one of your best blogs!

At 10/20/2009 9:12 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Dear old West High. Yeah, those other wimp schools exaggerated our bad reputation.

At 10/21/2009 12:23 AM, Blogger Charlie Moore said...

Maybe the fact you and Pres. Monson attended the same high school means your call to the twelve is eminent. Hmmm. Or maybe you could talk Pres. Monson into talking at the next Storymakers conference. You know, connections!!!


At 10/21/2009 2:04 AM, Blogger Julie Wright said...

I honestly never went to a high school football game. But I went to Brighton High school--not much to feel school pride in there

At 10/21/2009 2:53 AM, Blogger Matthew Buckley said...

I think you had more words inside parentheses than you did outside parentheses (not that there's anything wrong with that).

At 10/21/2009 2:59 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

My sophomore year our football team was so bad it was never a question of would we lose, it was a matter of by how MUCH would we lose (and whether we'd even score).

We got a new head coach junior year, and senior year took state. I was pretty proud to learn from my nephew (who now attends my HS that they've taken state 3 years running. So I like to think that maybe, just maybe there are some high schools that can actually play.

I'm just glad my son has no interest in sports, as another nephew of mine was carted off the football field and taken to the hospital in an ambulance recently. He's fine--and thought it was SO COOL that his jersey had to be cut off him. Yeah, WAY cool that if he'd been hit any differently he'd be paralyzed now . . .

(Wow--I'm such a downer for such a funny post . . .)

At 10/23/2009 9:38 AM, Blogger Cameron said...


You're right, in the semi-final game of the state championships West beat Box Elder in double overtime at Rice-Eccles (or was it just Rice then?). It was a great game.

At 10/23/2009 1:35 PM, Blogger Anna said...

AH.. yes. I remember the double overtime. Even though we lost, it definatly was a great game.


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