Cleats grinding on Marana High’s overgrown turf sounded the alarm. Or perhaps carbon dioxide signed our warrants as we exhaled.
I’ll never know. Either way, the siege was on.
Around floodlights, mosquito clouds rose and formed halos severe enough to make sailors take warning.
I stood unprepared as though the linemen decided to blitz the sideline’s sole reporter. Coach Dudley offered me a Handi-wipe impregnated with bug dope, chemical Kevlar that saved my hide.
Tiger foes be warned, Emigh Road is irrigation country. Pack anti-aircraft rockets in your equipment trailer.
An hour before I busily scribbled notes for The Explorer’s football preview and wondered to what degree West Nile virus was really a rainy-day media crutch, I sat on a cooler in the coaching office, submerged in the depths of a fundraising meeting.
Dry-erase X’s and O’s on the play board carry only a slight lead on the unsung role of stalking neighborhoods and storefronts, to raise the extra thousands of dollars required to outfit a prep athletic team.
Football is a prime example, but only one.
Coaches prefer at least six footballs, at $45 each, for the quarterback’s practice. That doesn’t include balls for the team’s drills — let alone for the game. Then there’s pads for each player, starting at $150. Helmets bid out the same — plus custom logos.
Don’t forget all the shoes, athletic tape and diesel fuel, either.
Mosquitoes, at 2.5 milligrams, pale compared to a defensive lineman’s bulk. Soon, the meaty players will swarm, peddling cheap discount cards for everyday needs like pizza, movie rentals and auto repair.
Marana charges families a maximum $120 for sports fees, a bargain that sets equipment managers back a few points by opening night. And the average coach will know enough about fundraising in a few weeks to qualify for a campaign spot on Obama’s tour bus.
I recommend against swatting those boys selling coupon cards outside the grocery.
Hook them up, open your wallets, and support your local athletes.