Road Trippin’ With the Family
By Bob Boyd
Both buses smelled very badly. I distinctly remember that. That’s where the similarities ended abruptly. Even the smells were different. One acrid, sobering, but accepted; the other stale, warm, and dependent on what paper mill or dead skunk farm we passed.
The biggest difference between the buses is their occupants. One holds roughly sixty solemn and focused football players about to enter the variable coliseum of high school sports. While the second bus holds forty or so rambunctious forensics kids on their way to a cut throat Tennessee High School Speech and Drama League tournament. Only one bus is full of laughter.
Oddly enough I’ve ridden on both of these buses. The bus with the laughter and forensics kids is the one I happen to be on right now. It’s foggy and the road conditions are nothing short of hazardous, but the mood inside is jubilant. People practice their chosen categories of speaking and acting (This looks roughly like an intent conversation with the back of a seat) while others indulge in games of”Never Have I Ever” or perform sing-alongs. It is a loud eclectic mix to say the least.
I happen to fit in very well on this bus. Its constant activities quell even the shakiest of nerves. The newest and meekest competitors forget about winning and losing and simply enjoy the road trippin’. Lee Daniel, a prominent member of the Ravenwood Forensics Team, reminisces that, “The Forensics Team is my second family. Win or lose I am still accepted.” I have done my fair share of losing as well as a bit of winning and am constantly amazed at how much easier it is to lose with your family there for hugs and febreze tag.
The other bus hasn’t driven off the map. It makes its way silently, steadily, and purposefully to face an opponent. It could be Brentwood or Independence. No matter the destination the group mindset is the same. Every person packed on that bus is completely focused on what they need to do to play the game harder, faster, and more passionately than the other helmeted heroes on the field.
The celebrations and smiles have to be earned with age old blood, sweat, and tears. What the Football Team lacks in words it makes up for in brotherhood. As corny as it sounds, and it sounds corny, the Football Team eats, practices, and grows together. The success of each individual rests on the others playing beside him on the field. It’s gritty, poetic, and most of all it’s real. The dynamic that is taught on this bus is important to the makeup of a successful human being. Teddy Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” The Ravenwood Football Team remained silent. It was too focused on running drills and visualizing the win.
The family that the Forensics Team forms is reproduced quite differently on the Football Team, but both families are just that: A Family. While the Football Team goes to battle as a group it jokes like the closest of brothers.
I’ve ridden both buses, smelled both smells, and won both wins. On the surface they couldn’t be farther apart. The idea of a suited up football player standing next to a suit and tie forensics kids is laughably ridiculous. Underneath that comedy lays the serious impact both families have had on my life as well as the lives of countless others.
It comes down to comparisons. You can’t compare two bus rides by the passengers, the words spoken, or even the ride itself. It’s the destination that matters. It’s the family that counts.