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Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Matinee: The Waterboy

I bet you never expected to see an Adam Sandler movie being featured in this blog entry, did you?

Truth be told, neither did I.

The thing is...there's a lot that I have in common with one particular movie in general.  In order to proceed, I'm going to do things a little differently here.

Picture it.  Elementary school.  1988. (And try to ignore the fact that I just had a Golden Girls moment here)

There was a young boy who once hated gym class so much.  I mean, he really, really, hated it.  If he could have, he would have gladly never taken another gym class again.

You see...this may come as a shock to some of you, but I was never a great athlete in school sports, or any kind of sport for that matter.

(Which explains why this blog celebrates pop culture and not touchdowns)

The point is that growing up in a school district that seemed to put as much if not more emphasis on sports programs as they did with academics was rocky for me.  It almost seemed like if one wasn't athletically gifted, people didn't seem to want anything to do with you.

It started off around 1988, as I said earlier.  I tried my hardest in gym class.  I bounced those basketballs as hard as I could.  I ran as fast as I could.  I rode those little wooden scooter things to my heart's desire.  The end result?  The only C on my report card. 

At least the effort was there.

Unfortunately, effort didn't really matter very much at school.  At my school, I think the majority of my teachers graded solely on athletic abilities instead of effort, and I felt that was the wrong thing for teachers to do.  I mean, yes, it would have been nice to have had athletic skill, but shouldn't the fact that I shed more sweat and tired myself out trying to compete with the other kids mean anything?

In elementary school, it wasn't as bad.  Sure, I had to deal with kids teasing me over my athletic ability, or lack thereof, but I could handle it.  Some days were more fun than others, so I just tried to focus on that.

High school was even worse though.  Ninth grade was okay, but when I got into tenth grade, it was horrible.  It almost felt like I was the ninety-eight pound weakling, even though in reality, I was about 170 pounds heavier and could probably throw a concrete brick through a window.

(DISCLAIMER:  I have not, nor ever, thrown a concrete brick through any window, though I've admittedly been tempted.)

I'm sure that I would have had a better time in gym class if one teacher in particular didn't outrightly tell my parents during the parent-teacher interview that my grade in the class would remain fixed at the same grade no matter how hard I tried, or how much perspiration was shed.

Certainly didn't make me feel any better about myself, that's for sure.

I never did take gym class again, and I really didn't care if I ever got any exercise ever again.  I mean, no matter what, I had people telling me that I was mediocre and that I would never improve, so why bother?

This probably would be a great time to bring up the subject for the Monday Matinee.

One might think that the choosing of the 1998 film 'The Waterboy' is somewhat of an unusual choice.  For me though, it makes perfect sense to talk about this movie.

I mean, listen to the description of Adam Sandler's character, as quoted on 'the usually unreliable, but since I've seen the movie, I know it to be gospel' Wikipedia.

Bobby Boucher is a socially inept, stuttering water boy with hidden anger issues due to constant teasing and his mother's (Kathy Bates) excessive sheltering. He became the water boy for the University of Louisiana Cougars[2] after being told his father died of dehydration in the desert while serving in the Peace Corps. However, the players always torment and the team's head coach, Red Beaulieu (Jerry Reed), eventually fires him for "disrupting" his practices. Bobby then approaches Coach Klein (Henry Winkler) of the South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs and asks to work as the team's waterboy. Coach Klein has been coach of SCLSU for years without success, after his brilliant playbook was stolen by Red Beaulieu.

The blue hyperlinks are an added bonus, courtesy of the copy and paste feature.

You know something, let's just come out with it right now.  Aside from the stuttering part, and that my social ineptness could never be as bad as Bobby Boucher's, I'm almost like a carbon copy of Bobby.

Think about it.  It makes perfect sense.  Bobby was picked on by everyone around him.  So was I.  Bobby's social skills were not really all that developed.  My social skills aren't quite as bad, but I didn't really have much game.  I'll come out and say it.

Bobby had an incredibly sheltered life due to an overprotective mother.  While I can thankfully say that my mother was NEVER as bad as Bobby's, there was some protectiveness there that I really didn't need.  Though Kathy Bates was awesome in the movie, I must admit.

Even the part about the head coach getting on Boucher's case resonates true with me.  For the coach was basically every bad gym teacher that I ever had combined into one arrogant, prickly pear of a man.

I just felt so bad for the guy.  No wonder he had anger issues.  When I was in high school, I admit that I had anger issues myself.  We both ended up getting a raw deal in the world of sports just based on things that we felt we had no control over.

In the movie, it wasn't until Bobby got on a different team as the waterboy that his fortune began to change.  When his new team began to harass him and make fun of him, the new coach urged Bobby to fight back against them.  That advice awoke something inside Bobby, and what he did was tackle the quarterback with such force that the QB got K.O.'ed.

This instance really helped Bobby grow as a person.  He went back to school, and went behind his mother's back to join the college football team as a linebacker.  With Bobby's help, the team, whose previous success was inadequate at best, was on their way to the top.  Bobby even managed to attract the romantic affections of his childhood friend, Vicki as a result of it...something that would have never crossed his mind before.

You see...without spoiling the ending of the movie, that's what the lesson I've learned is all about.  In Bobby Boucher's case, he had almost every possible thing working against him.  Yet, because of some support from a caring coach, it really changed his attitude towards everything.  He started to like himself.  He started to break out of his sheltered upbringing.  He started to explore things that he never thought possible.

He found all that with encouragement from someone who supported him instead of bringing him down.

As for me?  Well, I found that too.  After years of avoiding it, back in 2009, I had heard about a charity walk that my workplace was a part of for quite a while.  It was something known as the 'Walk for Miracles'.  You basically headed to the site of the nearest children's hospital all across Canada and participated in a five kilometre (or for you non-metric types, about three miles) walk.  You raised money for the children's hospital of your choice, and all the money went towards the purchase of new equipment for the hospitals as well as funding research for new treatments.

Back in 2009, I didn't think I would be able to do the walk.  I got winded walking down the street, let along walking five whole kilometres.  When 2009 began, I was very heavy, and I was so out of shape.  After seeing a photograph that was taken of me at the 2008 Christmas party and seeing how horrible I looked, I knew that I needed to make a change.

So, with the help of some very caring co-workers, I made the choice to try and get in shape for a better lifestyle.  I ate better, exercised more, and really stayed focused on the goal.  As a result, by the time the Walk for Miracles came around, I had lost a significant amount of weight, and felt confident enough to do the whole walk.

Sure, when I got to the walk site, there was a 1km walk option, but by doing the 5km walk, I would be challenging myself...stepping out of that comfort zone to better myself. 

I not only did that walk, but I finished at the front of the pack!

Take THAT, you fixed mark making gym teacher.

In fact, I've managed to do the same walk for three years in a row.  It's a great cause, and I love raising money for a hospital that has saved thousands of lives because of the work we've done for them.

And, maybe...just like Bobby did...maybe that's what I needed to feel better about myself.  To do something out of my comfort zone so that I could help others along the way.

A purpose for a purpose.

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