smallest-brained crustaceans are water fleas. The smallest-brained parasites
are flatworms. And the smallest-brained mammals are the men and women who run
high school athletics in the state of Washington.
Listen to what
they did, and tell me it doesn't make you want to chew through concrete.
High in Everett opened the football season this fall with a dying coach, the
legendary Terry Ennis, whose 287 wins are second most in state history. The
school had begged him to come out of retirement seven years ago to kick-start
the Wildcats' new football program and be the athletic director.
Ennis then did
what he'd been doing for 29 years. He turned Archbishop Murphy's kids into
young men who wear ties and look you in the eye and win football games. He won
two state titles and went 73-12 in his first seven seasons with the
But before this
one, Ennis told his players that his prostate cancer had a hold of him, bad. He
was going to keep working, though, because Terry Ennis would rather have worn a
tutu than quit on his team. Coaching sometimes from a chair, he won the first
two games, then died three days later.
"We sat in
that locker room and cried for hours," says senior co-captain Ryan Bourke,
"and we all talked about how we wanted to win state for him."
And so they won
their next seven games--under Ennis's brother-in-law Rick Stubrud--then won a
district qualifier and got ready for state.
But then fell a
tiny little raindrop that turned into the Johnstown Flood.
Two weeks ago, new
co-athletic director Patti Means was looking over players' physical-exam
certificates--sifting through all of Ennis's cartons and confusion as she took
over some of his old duties--and discovered one player whose physical had not
understandable mistake. The guy in charge of those kinds of things died four
days after the kid's physical expired. Plus, this kid's home life was going
through a blender. His mom had moved to Yakima, his dad was gone, and he was
living with friends. Stuff tends to slip through cracks that big.