Rehab, My Road to Recovery; The Cavalry Came Dressed as a Football Coach (part 7)
I met Jack Bohan as a skinny freshman center who showed up late to my first weight training session with the high school. 4 or 5 of us got about ten yards from the practice area when Coach turned and screamed at us louder than I've ever heard the human voice project. We never broke stride, and we got the hell out of there as fast as we could. The yelling guy was our legendary office line coach, teacher, and leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Bohan could challenge your manhood in the day and save your soul in the evening at a Bible Study. He was beloved and young linemen couldn't wait to be in his stable. After that day (I was never late again, btw), I built a nice relationship with him, both in football and FCA. By 1977, I was one of his boys, but in intensive care, he was the farthest thing from my mind. In fact, the morphine-induced state I was in made everyone a cloudy, fun-house looking object when they came through the door. When Coach came to the hospital the first time, all I saw was his curly, disco permed hair. It bounded to my bed like a fuzzy blob, and when he leaned over to speak, I had no idea who it was. In a booming voice unfit for ICU, he bellowed "How many wins have you had today?" It was bizarre at so many levels, I literally just laid there and cried. But Coach was serious and yelled it again, prompting to choke out in sobs that my life was over. "I know you," he said, "and you are not gonna let the no hopes win." I had no idea what any of that meant, but it turned it to be defining moment of my rehab experience and if I needed a plan, hit just hit me over the head with one.
Days turned into weeks and as I made it to rehab, I noticed a constant presence. Seemed like every time I turned around, Coach Bohan was there. Not only was he consistently in my room, his mantra never changed. I heard the WINS thing as I lay in bed, in the bathroom, in the therapy rooms, it was relentless. I never really answered him, but he just kept asking in a very polite way if I'd won anything that day . . . so strange. But part of rehab is evolving into the person you are trying to become. I wanted to go back to my life, even though I was going to be different. So, I was starting to see the path to normalcy, but it was so far off and the tasks were so much bigger than me. I couldn't get there from where I where I was. My evolution allowed me see a different approach in my Coach's perspective. How Many Wins TODAY . . .TODAY . . . TODAY. If I couldn't see months or years down the road, maybe I could win today. I had a few immediate goals that involved small steps. In my first month, my sister was getting married and I was a groomsman. I'd obviously disrupted the plans, but I wanted to wear my tux and walk down the aisle, even if it was on a stretcher. In fact, Coach and my teammates took me and that was probably the first win. I was slowly but surely starting to think that Jack Bohan was offering me an alternative to despair. I wasn't ready to embrace his craziness yet, but I was ready to test it out. So, as I hit the therapy rooms, I set out to win the day. It was easier said than done.