David Casteal addresses his sixth-grade class as “learners,” as in: “Learners, here’s what going to happen.” On this October morning, Casteal’s learners at Cooper Elementary School are visited by Mads Tranberg, Rogers High School’s Danish foreign exchange student who recently made the football team’s first field goal in three years.
This is it. The last time these players and these coaches will be a team. The last time to play under the lights of Joe Albi Stadium. The last chance to win. The Rogers High School football team and their coaches stand shoulder to shoulder, arms around one another in a circle in the school’s wrestling room. They are about to board a bus to their last game of the season. “The friendships that you make, the bonds that you build, will last a lifetime. It’s never going to be like this again – even for those that have more games ahead of you, this circle will never be the same,” coach Matt Miethe says. “Here’s one last shot for this circle to go out and get the job done tonight.”
A ball sailed through the uprights during practice at the Rogers High School football field one day, drawing the kind of cheers from players that normally would be reserved for a game-winning field goal. The kicker, a tall, blond Danish exchange student, lined up in a different spot on the field and did it again. Then again. And again.
Jacob Meusy held it together as the seconds ticked off the clock of a homecoming game that appeared won, but somehow slipped to defeat in the final minutes. He held it together as he reprimanded a teammate who had thrown his helmet as tears ran down his face – angry, the player said, at his lack of playing time. Meusy told the teammate to shape up and grabbed him to line up and shake the hands of the celebrating players from North Central who had just beaten them.
To make his team think about a fresh beginning, coach Matt Miethe asked his players to contemplate their end. In the first week of Rogers High School football practice, Miethe assigned players the task of writing their obituaries, imagining the end of their high school careers and their deaths at age 99.
Sun., Nov. 17, 2013, 1:31 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 28, 2013, 8:49 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 1, 2013