Athletics versus Academics
© March 2004
By The Hit Man
I knew I was in trouble when Coach Hesperian called me over to the side line in the middle of practice. He was an exacting coach, not giving room for error and I knew I had made plenty in the last half hour or so. I ran over to him, a little out of breath from all the running and wind sprints we had been doing. I dropped the football and my helmet, then tore off my shoulder pads. I leaned over, hands on my knees, taking in great gulps of oxygen.
"A little out of shape there, aren't you, Jasper?" All I could do was wag my head up and down, indicating yes. "Well, I know the perfect solution for that. Stand up straight."
I didn't do it right away which I guess mad him mad. He grabbed me by the hair and jerked me upright. Before I could even react, he plowed his fist into my gut, driving out what little air I did have. I collapsed to my knees.
"Are you that out of shape, Jasper?" He was standing just over me, glowering down at me as I struggled to recover.
"No coach. You just caught me off-guard is all." My words were interspersed with gulps of air.
"Then get up off the ground. Set an example for the rest of the team." I made a great effort to get back to my feet but obviously I wasn't doing it to his satisfaction again. He grabbed me by the nape of the neck and hauled me to my feet. I could see his clenched fist, ready to hit me again. That's when Mr. Schmidt, the school history teacher stepped into the fray. I have to admit he showed a lot of balls, stepping into Coach Hesperian's territory at all, let alone stand up to him openly. I crouched there in amazement as Schmidt locked coach's arm at the wrist and physically stayed his blow. I noticed the rest of the team had stopped their drills and were watching as well.
I had never seen two adults in a fight before but I was pretty sure I was going to now. I can't help but admit that the thought of poor Mr. Schmidt getting his ass whipped because of me ran through my mind.
"You don't want to get involved here, Schmidt." Coach practically spit the words.
"Looks like I already am, Coach." I realized that Mr. Schmidt still had Coach's wrist locked up. It appeared that Coach had to make an effort to get his arm loose. That intrigued me a bit. Finally he managed to break free.
"How would you like it if I punched you like you did Jasper just now," Mr. Schmidt asked? Oh man, this was getting better and better I thought to myself.
"You don't want to come up against these, Schmidt." At those words, Coach lifted his shirt, exposing his brick-layered abs. "Why don't you go back to your academics and I'll take care of the athletics, huh?"
I was pretty sure I heard some admiring whistles from the squad as they watched the drama unfold. You couldn't help but be impressed by Coaches physique. It was definitely one to be proud of. I wasn't sure what was going to happen next as Mr. Schmidt stood there in his pull-over sweater and perfectly creased pants. Mr. Schmidt seemed a little unsure himself as he stood there starring at the coach's exposed mid-section. Coach dropped his shirt and put his hand firmly on Mr. Schmidt's shoulder.
"Go on now," Coach encouraged Mr. Schmidt. "I have work to do with these jocks." Coach finished off his little speech with a push against Mr. Schmidt's shoulder, directing him back toward the classrooms. A small cloud seemed to darken across Mr. Schmidt's face. Coach didn't see it because of the angle of Mr. Schmidt's body. But I did.
"Say," Mr. Schmidt said, turning back toward the coach. "Do
you still have that boxing ring set up in the gymnasium?"
"Well, I really don't like the way you're treating these boys or how you're being so condescending to me. I think it would be a good idea for you and me to go a couple rounds. What do you say?" There it was, the challenge thrown out on the table, the gauntlet set, the proverbial slap across the face with the glove. I was pretty sure Coach wouldn't refuse. This is going to be good I thought.
"How about after school today," Coach replied without hesitation. "Say 4:00." Challenge put down and answered.
"It'll need to be 5:00. I have a couple of students to tutor right after school."
"That'll be fine," Coach said. "See you there." Mr. Schmidt started to walk away but turned back.
"Oh, how about no more punching the boys between now and then, huh? Save it for the ring." With that he was gone. The entire team came running over, their excitement as unmistakable as mine, all full of questions about who was going to whoop whose ass. The money was on Coach.
Word about the match traveled through the school faster than a wild fire
through the woods of southern California. There wasn't a group of students,
or faculty for that matter, who weren't discussing it. School work had come
to a solid halt for the rest of the afternoon. Taking advantage, I asked for
a hall pass to the restroom, not really needing to go, but figuring I could
use the time to my own advantage. I knew there were pockets of betting taking
place and I still needed to get my money down while the betting was good.
As I passed by the open hallway leading to the facilities, I glanced out
at the ocean. It was always such a beautiful site. What better place to build
a school than where we could commune with nature so easily. There was a person
standing out on the edge of the
rocks. Dressed in some long spandex sweats and laced up boots, he was obviously going through some regimen of stretching exercises. I watched for a few moments, impressed not only by the exercises he was doing, but the excellent shape he appeared to be in. The human body in its pure form always fascinated me. I walked through the hallway, standing just out of sight. That's when I realized who it was. It was Mr. Schmidt. Holy shit, I thought, where did he get muscles like that? Better yet, how had he kept them hidden? Then it struck me, baggy pull-over sweaters and perfectly creased pants. As I turned away, I had an idea that I might just be changing who my money was going down on.
As I left Mr. Schmidt to his preparations, I headed toward the athletic room, tucked in away behind the gymnasium. I was pretty sure if I was going to find a betting pool going that was the place. I came around the corner and almost bumped into Coach going through a routine with his jump rope. He was dressed only in a pair of shorts and it was like watching a fine Swiss watch as he went through his machinations. Seeing me, he stopped, draping the rope around his shoulders.
"You know this is nothing personal, right, Jasper. If Schmidt gets hurt today, it's no reflection on you."
"Sure, I know that Coach. The man issued a challenge. You had to do what you had to do. I understand that."
"Good, I just wanted to make sure there weren't any hard feelings between us, me punching you and all." He put his hand on my shoulder. "By the way, who are you putting your money on?" His question caught me off guard and I felt my face blush a bit.
"You, Coach, no doubt about that," I replied. At least my face was already red so my lie wouldn't show up any different.
"That's my man." He clapped me hard on the back. "Now get going before I have to report you."
"Right, Coach." I headed off. And good luck, you're going to need it, I thought to myself.
School had officially been over since 3:45 but the school was still a conglomeration of students and teachers milling around, some pretending to be doing homework, some working on class plans, others just wandering around aimlessly, waiting for the big moment of 5:00 to roll around. I and the other jocks were already in the gymnasium, assuring ourselves of the best seats. We had a private entrance from the annex next door and we darn well had used it to our advantage. About 4:45, the outer doors opened and a flood of body's poured into the gym, a mixture of students and faculty. I even saw the school principal, Mr. Coffin, come in. I wondered what his personal stance on this sort of thing was going to be. Was he here to shut it down?
Someone brought in a boom box and turned it up way loud. With all the body's and excited chattering going on, you could only hear the thumping bass line, none of the lyrics. Suddenly the door from the locker room burst open and in walked Coach, his body glistening from the work out he had just put himself through in preparation. He hopped up into the ring to the cheers and catcalls of the crowd. He moved around the ring, doing different muscle poses, all intended to influence the betting pool which was still open until the match started. Confidence oozed from his every pore, mixing in with his sweat.
The door to the locker room opened a second time and out walked Mr. Schmidt, outfitted in his baggy pull-over sweater and perfectly creased pants. I was pretty sure I was the only one who knew what lay under that costume of sorts. I could hardly wait for the crowd's reaction. That was when I had the bad thought that maybe he was dressed that way because he was going to forfeit the fight, afraid to enter the ring with Coach. There would go my gas money for the next year if he did. The crowd grew silent except for a few taunting comments as Mr. Schmidt worked his way to the ring. He effortlessly slid under the bottom rope. As he stood up, moving toward one corner, Coach did the same. That's when I saw Principal Coffin enter the ring. This was either the beginning or the end, right here and now. He had a wireless microphone in one hand.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," he started off, just like an official announcer. Guess that meant it was on. Man I was rocking in my socks. "In this corner, weighing in at 170 pounds of pure muscle, Coach Hesperian." The gym went crazy with noise, yelling, feet pounding on the bleachers, catcalls, you name it and it was being heard. Principal Coffin waited for the noise to abate which took several minutes, before he could continue.
"And in this corner, weighing in at 170 pounds of " The principal stopped, looking over at Mr. Schmidt, his face an open question. He didn't really know what was under the man's clothing, now did he. It was at this point that Mr. Schmidt began to disrobe, pulling off his perfectly pleated pants first, revealing the same spandex I had seen on the jetty. As he stripped, the boom box started playing March Rose, the stripper song. Guess he had planned that out. But it wasn't until he stripped off his pull-over sweater, exposing a perfect 8-pak, that the crowd went absolutely berserk. They were simply amazed that this quiet, humble, mild-mannered teacher was actually Superman in disguise. The noise was so raucous, the saying 'raised the rafters' almost came true in the gym at that moment.
I glanced at the coach and he was standing there slack-jawed as well, probably wondering just what he had gotten himself into. As the noise finally began to dip, the principal continued.
"And in this corner, also weighing in at 170 pounds of muscle, Mr. Schmidt, our beloved history teacher." As loud as Coach Hesperian's reception had been, that for Mr. Schmidt was at least twice as loud. As it continued, Mr. Schmidt approached Principal Coffin and whispered something in his ear. The principal shook his head yes. He spoke into the mike but you could only see his lips move, you couldn't hear anything. As the noise died down, he tried again.
"Mr. Schmidt says that for this occasion, I can call him Hank." The crowd laughed at this. Then Coach moved forward, standing close to the mike.
"Well, you're going down, Hank." He put a special emphasis on the name.
"Are you talking to me, chump," Hank said, a finger pointing menacingly at Coach. "Bring it on. We'll see how you do against a real man instead of pushing these high schoolers around." Oh yeah, this was going to prove to be exciting.
The principal worked his way out of the ring. This only got better and better as this meant there wasn't going to be a referee. It was going to be an all out, no holds barred, may the best man win, free for all. I could hardly wait for them to tear into each other. Needless to say, I didn't have long to wait.
The two men rallied toward center ring, locking arms as they did. Their biceps stood out as they struggled against each other. Coach threw his arms downward, breaking the grip Hank had on his arms. Even as he did, Coach planted a fist solidly into Hank's gut. It made a resounding slap, that sound of flesh against flesh. But that was the only effect it seemed to have. Coach's face showed an element of surprise at the limited results. He tried to throw another punch but Hank grabbed his arm and with an easy motion, had it twisted up high behind his back. Coach reached back with his free hand and grasped the nape of Hank's neck. With a downward motion of his body, he threw the history teacher over his shoulder. I think Coach had intended to lock on some other hold but Hank was quick on his feet and moved out of his reach before he could do anything else. The two faced each other center ring again.
As they charge in, Coach spun Hank around and threw him into a full nelson. Hank raised his arms skyward and dropped right down out of the hold. He reached between his own legs and grabbed Coach's, dropping him to his ass. It looked like he was trying to gain some kind of a leg hold but Coach leaned forward and grabbed him at the waist, hauling him backwards. As Hank landed and tried to roll away, Coach rolled with him. For a brief instant, Coach had Hank in a position to pin him but Hank managed to kick out, shoving Coach away.
This time as the two rushed in, it was Hank who delivered a strong blow to Coach's muscular torso. The sound was totally different. Where Coach's punch had made a slapping sound, Hank's made more of a squishy, yet hollow sound, like his fist had penetrated a bit into Coach's musculature. From the look on Coach's face, it had done just that. In that moment, Hank grabbed coach's arm and flipped him in the air. As they landed, Hank locked on a very painful arm bar. Coach was laying on his side, his chest facing Hank's but with Hank's body on top, their legs entwined, the arm Hank held pointing almost straight out at a 90 degree angle behind Coach's back. Within seconds, Coach did the unimaginable, he tapped out.
Hank let him go immediately and stood up. The room was confused as to just what to do so silence prevailed. Hank turned and looked straight at me, giving me a thumb's up. That's when Coach caught him with a blind punch to the kidney, dropping Hank to his knees. I knew Coach had muscular arms but when he wrapped them around Hank's neck in a choke hold, I was amazed as his veins and tendons stood out, threatening to pop right through his skin. Hank fought valiantly, trying to pry himself loose from the grip around his neck but it was to no avail. As his oxygen level was depleted, his body began to slump. Knowing he was in danger of blacking out, Hank tapped three times on Coach's arm. But Coach didn't let go. If anything, he tightened his grip until Hank went completely limp in his arms. The triumphant warrior returned from war with the spoils, Coach effortlessly hoisted Hank's inert body to his own shoulders; face up, one hand looped around Hank's neck, the other holding a leg. He bent the unconscious man's body unnaturally, giving his back a real work over. Had Hank been awake, I had no doubt that he would be screaming for release. I know I would.
As Coach pranced around the ring with his prize on his shoulders, his every step continuing to punish the unconscious man, the crowd began to boo and hiss. It made no difference to Coach. In his eyes he was the victor. Finally he laid Hank down on the canvas, actually more like dropped him. Much of the crowd was on their feet in protest. Coach made motions and sounds for anyone to come down who felt like they stood a better chance against him. No one took him up on his offer. He then turned and manhandled Hank to his feet. The crowd fell silent, anxious to see what was going to happen next. Coach hauled Hank to the center of the ropes on one side of the ring and proceeded to tie him up in the ropes, his hands outstretched in either direction, his feet caught over the bottom rung. Coach walked over to where one of the janitors stood just outside the ring. He made some sounds and gestures. The man headed off into the locker room. Soon enough, he emerged with a bucket of water. He handed it up to Coach. He walked over and threw it right in Hank's face. Sputtering and coughing, Hank came too.
Now that his prey was awake again, Coach didn't hesitate to continue his torture. Standing right in front of Hank, he began to pummel his abs. The blows were solid and firm, nothing pulled or fake about them like on television. Coach paused for a second and glanced in my direction. That's when I noticed that he had tied Hank in just the right spot for me to see every blow he delivered. This part of the show was for me and me alone. I got that. Coach smiled at me and then turned his concentration back on Hank.
Hank was being punished like this because of me. I was actually feeling physically sick to my stomach as Coach continued delivering blow after blow. I could see that Hank's musculature had failed and each blow was digging in deeper and deeper. The man's innards were slowly being turned to mush. I couldn't stand it any longer. I jumped up from my seat in the stands and rushed the ring. Principal Coffin tried to stop me but I simply bumped him with a solid elbow and he went back on his ass. A titter of laughter rose up from the crowd. As far as they were concerned, this was all just part of the show.
I was in the ring in a second but Coach was more than ready for me. It never entered my mind that this was all a part of his plan. As I charged, he simply turned from Hank and caught me with a clothesline. I went down hard, slamming my head on the canvas. The crowd was divided as to who to cheer for but enough were still with Coach that his antics brought a nice roar of approval. After all, he was now taking on two to one odds and wiping up the floor with both. He grabbed me by the neck and groin and hoisted me over his head as easily as he had Hank. I barely had time to think of how much his hold on my balls hurt before I was plummeting downward, my breadbasket exploding on his bended knee. I fell to the floor, my body pulled in tight as the pain spread throughout my body. Coach grabbed me by the hair and yanked me to my feet. As his legs caught mine, holding me in position, one of his powerful arms snaked around my neck, bending me over backwards in an abdominal stretch. With his free hand, he began to punch me in the gut. All the while he was doing this, he stood right in front of Hank, making sure he could see every single thing he was doing to me. Hank was struggling like a madman to free himself but he was hooked into the ropes pretty good.
His blows, combined with the grip he had on my neck were starting to wear me down. At first, I had been able to withstand his blows by keeping my stomach muscles taut but now I was starting to loose the ability to do so. Once again Coach hoisted me to his shoulders, only this time upside down, like he had Hank. He began circling the ring again, bouncing me up and down like a seesaw. I felt like my back was going to break. Coach came to a stop in front of Hank, bouncing me up and down several times very hard. I twisted my head toward Hank. That's when I noticed that one of his feet was free from the bottom rung of rope. But I could see we were close enough for Hank to be able to do anything. Using my body as leverage, I pushed against Coach's neck, throwing him a little off balance. He compensated by stepping forward. I saw it coming but said nothing. Hank caught him square in the balls with a good 50 yard punt. Coach folded like a sack of potatoes, dropping me off his back in the process.
My back was incredibly sore as was my abs but I managed to gain my feet and moved to Hank's side. I worked at the ropes, finally being able to slip them off one of his wrists. He was able to undo the other. The other part of the crowd, the ones with disdain for Coach and his underhanded moves now burst into cheers. Hank walked over and yanked Coach to his feet.
"Grab his arms, Jasper," Hank said to me. I didn't have to be asked twice. I locked Coach up tight in a full nelson, including holding his wrists with my hands. This prevented me from putting a full crank down on his neck but he wasn't getting loose from me anytime soon. Hank moved in front and unleashed a flurry of blows to Coach's abdomen that had more strength behind them than I thought humanly possible. I could feel them all the way through Coach's body and into my own musculature. Hank was definitely socking to rock him. Soon Coach was woofing with each blow. I could feel him struggling to take in air between blows but Hank was barely giving him enough time. Coach had struggled against my hold at first, almost managing to strong arm himself loose a couple of times but now there was no resistance whatsoever. Hanks blows continued, never diminishing in speed, volume, or strength. Basically, he was using Coach as a human punching bag.
"Okay, Jasper, you can let him go now," I heard Hank say. Though I didn't really want to let go, I did as I was instructed. I was done, but Hank wasn't. His blow sequence changed so that he was slamming Coach hard enough to lift him off his feet. Finally after about ten of those power hits, it seemed like he thought Coach had had enough. After all, the man was barely able to stay on his feet.
"You finish him off, Jasper," Hank said, taking a step back out of the way.
"Glad to, Mr. Schm " I stopped mid-word. "Hank." I positioned Coach and sent in a solid blow to his breadbasket that doubled him over. I wound up and delivered a stiff upper cut that sent him all the way over backwards, his unconscious form crashing down face first to the canvas. The entire gymnasium erupted with noise. The floor was immediately flooded by students and faculty alike. But as they closed on the ring, Principal Coffin spoke into his mike one more time.
"Winner by a knock out, Hank and Jasper." He held our hands high in the air to the tumultuous applause of the crowd. Hank leaned in close so I could hear him over the crowd.
"This is one time I don't think history will be repeating itself."
We both laughed until it hurt as the crowd bore us to their shoulders in celebration.