By Denton Josey, Features Editor
As great as Homecoming promises to be, I’m looking forward to next weekend even more.
On Oct. 26, Abilene High plays Odessa Permian in one of the best football match-ups of the season, and I’m going to be there.
The game is not what I’m most excited about though. I’m stoked because one of my best friends is coming to town to watch it with me. Really, I’m only going because he wants me to, and I like hanging out with him.
My friend is from Florida, so we don’t see each other much, but he loves football of all flavors, especially high school. As long as we’ve known each other we’ve been going to games together.
Neither of us personally know a single player from either team, but that doesn’t matter. My friend loves sports and is good at caring and cheering for people with whom he has no connection.
A few years ago, I found myself living in Kenya and coaching a soccer team. My friend, David, has never been to Kenya and didn’t know anyone on my team, but he talked to a local high school in Florida and got them to donate jerseys for my team because he knew we didn’t have any.
That’s another cool thing about David – he’s always kept up with me, even though I’m not in our hometown, where he still lives, much anymore.
This summer, when I was at home, I got to hang out with him, and I noticed he spent a lot of time helping out other people. He works hard all week, but when the weekend rolls around, he works even harder.
One weekend, David asked me to help him build a playground. Now, it’s not like he knows much about playgrounds – his regular job is in marketing – but he knows when a young mother of two toddlers needs a playground built and her husband is in Iraq, he’ll give it his best. And while David’s only an amateur at playground-building, he’s a pro at yard work, so not only did he help take care of the playground, he and some
friends also did her yard work for more than a year until her husband came home.
When we’re at the game next Friday, I’ll undoubtedly ask about what’s going on because David has forgotten more about football then I’ll ever know. Some of his happiest times in life have come from watching and playing football.
David played high school football, but he really shined in college. Well, intramurals. He was the quarterback, and, under his leadership, his team always won the championship. His football legacy is one of many ways in which I’ve tried to be like him.
He’s a little older than me, so he doesn’t play intramurals anymore, but he still leads. This summer, he told me a man in the small group he leads called one night in tears because he couldn’t afford his and his wife’s medication. David knew the right call, and he and the other folks in his small group took care of the meds, no problem.
When we go to the game next week I’m certain I’ll be doing most of the talking, because while he’s hilarious and full of personality, he likes to listen. And there are some things he doesn’t talk about.
David doesn’t tell a lot of people about his volunteer work; he’s one of my closest friends, but I didn’t know until I talked to his wife that he visits a crisis center for infants and toddlers once a month to hold and play with the children who don’t have positive male influences around.
David’s wife also told me about another project he’s started. A single father of a six-year-old girl dove into the shallow end of a pool, and it paralyzed him. David doesn’t know the guy, but David has a little girl himself and figures he can help, so he and some friends are remodeling the guy’s house.
I know it isn’t typical to talk about your friends like this, but I look up to David a lot. Sometimes people tell us we act similar or look alike, but what they don’t know is I do it on purpose. David is smart, confident and can bench press more than 300 pounds, but I’ve never felt like I don’t measure up to him because his goal is to make me feel better about myself, my life.
When he comes in next weekend he’s going to have to drive about seven hours out of his way; he has a business meeting near Austin, but he’s driving to Abilene just to see me. Even though he’s from Florida, I have full confidence he’ll get here because the guy never gets lost – he always knows where to go.
I can’t count how many times I’ve called him to help me when I’ve been lost, both in life and on the road. He always tells me the right way for either kind of question.
So come next Friday if you’re at the A-High game and see me with this guy who kinda looks like me, only taller and stronger, it’ll be David. Only, some of his close friends call him Dave. Some of my close friends, since we’re from the South, call him Mr. Josey.
I call him Dad.