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He did not, of course, because this is the only life he has ever known or wanted to. Besides the pigs, Broitzman, 41, has 520 acres in soybeans and corn, and he's in the same fix as the other farmers.
"Can't get no price for anything," he said. "It's just terrible. You work and can't show a profit; you can't do that forever. I love the farm, and I've done it all my life. It's hard when you're 41 years old and thinking about doing something different. Farming is in your blood. It gets in you. Love of the land. It seems like in the spring, when the ground dries up and the dust starts blowing, the natural thing to do is go out there in the fields and farm the land. You plant your corn and watch it grow.
"You hear about all these farmers having land for years? Well, the machinery goes first. Around here, they're losing their machinery. They are holding together by threads, praying something happens."
Broitzman's son, Rick, had just gotten home from football practice. Rick, a quarterback and split end, leaves practice at 5:30 every night to go home to do chores. He cultivated all his father's beans this summer and looked after the family's sows. Like most parents of football players, Lonny Broitzman is caught up in the team's misfortunes. "It bothers me a lot," he said. "It's depressing to lose all the time. It's like in farming. You do your best and still can't make it. As far as all these games they've lost, I don't know. The kids try their best. I guess that's all you can ask."
Rick flashed a pitchfork as he mucked out straw in a feeder-pig shed. He is one of the players reluctant to advertise what school he's from. "When we go to Albert Lea, nobody wants to wear his letter jacket," he said. "We don't want to be asked a lot of questions about being a losing team. You feel out of place. It's really embarrassing, to have a reputation for being a losing team. I think about it a lot. You visit other schools and they ask where you're from, and they say, ' Glenville?' and there's always a chuckle. It hurts."
Broitzman is not the only Trojan football player whose life outside of school is wedded to the farm, but he was almost unique in expressing so deep a sense of humiliation at what was happening on the field. Jon Flatness, a junior end who also breeds and raises pigs on his parents' acreage outside town, shrugged off the notion that the team's enduring misfortunes affected him. "It's not a big thing," Flatness said. "We might have a losing streak in football, but there are other things we're good in. In the spring barrow show at Albert Lea [a barrow's a castrated pig], we were premier exhibitor this year. We showed the best hogs in the state. At the spring steer and heifer show, we usually do pretty good."
Most of the students at Glenville, including a number of football players, are involved in the 4-H Club and the Future Farmers of America. Kim Meyer, the school's agriculture teacher, who doubles as an assistant football coach, has a rack of trophies in his classroom celebrating the students' prowess at livestock and dairy judging contests around the state. What with classes, football practice, games, chores and judging contests, the farm kids have all they can handle in a school year.
"It's something, what some of these kids go through," says Meyer.
For the first six weeks of the season, no player had a busier schedule than defensive end Ranger Hall. Up at 5:30 a.m., he was milking the family's 45 cows by six. An hour and a half later, with that done, he showered, bolted down breakfast—"You take it on the run pretty much," he says—jumped on his motorcycle and rode the two miles to school. At 3:08 p.m., with his last class dismissed, he headed for the locker room to put his "uni" on. The practice session lasted until 5:30. Dressing quickly, he was out of the locker room and on his cycle at 5:50, gunning it over a country road for home.
The night before the game against Janesville, Hall parked his motorcycle at home and set out on foot for a broad pasture in the back. There, scattered in black and white patches a quarter of a mile away, grazed the Halls' herd of holsteins. With the help of three dogs, Hall rounded them up and drove them over to the milking barn. As one bossy after another stepped into one of three stalls, Hall hosed the mud off her udders, attached suction hoses to her teats and poured her a snack of grain to eat as she waited. At 7:30 he was ready to feed the calves.