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Despite having a vertical just over 12 inches and running a questionable forty, Travis Habberford knew he was an athlete. Sure, he’d suffered a meniscus tear during high school wrestling that had set him back a few steps, but ever since then he’d embraced pure agave tequila (none of that blended poison) and discovered the magic of creatine tablets. Habberford was known throughout his chapter and the campus gym as Hab, although he insisted people called him Herc once upon a time, and was renowned for his strict adherence to a few lifting rules: pythons first, pecs second, legs optional. That kind of discipline had seen him go from a 185 pound kid to a whopping 210 in the course of two years at Tech, and it had also inflated his ego to a point where he just knew he could play D1 ball.
In the week prior to a big matchup against a borderline top 25 team, Tech’s squad was facing down the suspension of half their secondary. Apparently, the NCAA frowned upon athletes getting team meals comped when they were eaten at the local sports pub. With a glaring lack of depth at safety, the coaches had no choice but to do the unthinkable – hold open tryouts. A combination of the aforementioned tequila and a few lines of pre-workout were all the motivation Habs needed to break out his intramural cleats and call his high school coach for some game film.
On the day of tryouts, pledges were required to carry Habs on a litter usually reserved for “Sheiks and Freaks” parties and stay in attendance to tailgate what was sure to be a resounding victory. It had clearly caught the notice of every coach and player in attendance. Their gazes were a mix of awe, envy, and a general “who the fuck is this guy?” vibe. As the hullaballoo subsided, potential players were asked to first prove they were in proper condition.
“Running? What the fuck is this, soccer?” thought Habberford. Still, he knew that those 30 minutes a week on the elliptical hadn’t been for naught. He steeled himself for the coming challenge. Shuttles, the go-to test of a player’s fortitude, would pose no threat to a man on a mission.
About 15 minutes later, Habs was wheezing like an asthmatic after her first blow job. Still, he had managed to overcome the first obstacle. From then on, he told himself, it was smooth sailing. “Running is for pussies who don’t *GASP* lift,” he said to himself. “Wait until they *BLARGH* see me hit.” The players were paired up, Habs ending up with a kid who looked like he once ran the mile in track, for some basic thud drills. It was his time to shine.
“Remember, guys, this is just wrap and go. Show us how well you can track an open field runner. We don’t want anyone getting hurt out here,” the coaches reminded them. Habs wasn’t buying it. This was a test to see who half assed and who took the game seriously. The mile kid was handed a ball as his meatheaded, soon-to-be bringer of doom stepped back in position. A whistle blew, and with a four step head start, Habs lowered his shoulder and unleashed the pain. The ball went flying — Habs’ nemesis let out a pitiful “Grk!” noise as he crumbled to the ground.
“Oh God damn it!” was followed by a quick whistle. His opponent continued to “Grk” meekly on the ground, his slim physique unprepared for a blow tempered by numerous intramural clotheslines and bar room brawls. As trainers attended to the poor soul writhing in pain on the ground, a red-faced coach approached Habberford. “What in tarnation do you think this is son, the doggone Superbowl?”
“Every play is the Superbowl, sir! Game time is pain time!” Habs cried out, ensuring that all eyes would be on him. He gave a flex for effect. With a dumbfounded look and a shake of the head, the coach walked away.
About 20 minutes later, Habs was back at the house reflecting on the pussified football mentality he’d just witnessed. Clearly, someone had gotten too many participation trophies for coaching. He looked down at his foot stool and gave it a whistle. “Pledge, get me a beer and then resume the position.” His human furniture leapt up from the bows and toes position to do as he was told. Despite his recent failure, he smiled. At least there was still one place where men could be men..