Eyeshield 21: Charge of the Regulars

Chapter 2: Ways of the Wise

I watched a lot of football highlights from the 60s and 70s to influence my style of play. 'You wanna take a man out the game, it's very easy to do, look him square in the eyes, that is my approach to the game, I wanna put as much fear in his heart, and as much pain on his back as I possibly could'. Those are the words of the immortal Deacon Jones.

If you must ask, no I have never heard the phrase 'you hit like a girl'. Donte Trufant, and Rashad Lawson won't be shaking their heads at me anymore. All it took was one play in practice. Kyle was dropping back from under center. He threw a pass to Donte Trufant up the middle. I laid into him hard with a shoulder to his helmet, planting him on his back.

I pounded my chest, "LET'S GO!" I barked

I butted facemasks with Delani and Rashawn, "You just knocked him the fuck out! You're a bad bitch!" cheered Delani, I believe Deacon Jones would be proud even if I'm a girl, and I'm not a defensive end. I saw Rashad crawl on his knees to get back on his feet, and jogging on over to the huddle. I did overheard some of the talk between him and Kyle.

His words stuttered, "W-w-what am I supposed to do?"

"Do the best you can, do the best you can," said Kyle

There came a short and sharp 'peep' of the whistle, "Way to hit, Marina! Nice job defense, way to stick to your assignments!" called out Coach Wilkins, I didn't give a 'thanks coach' to him. To me, I just keep giving it everything I've got until I have nothing left to give. As the offense went up to the line, I had a feeling they will try a trick play on us.

I said 'us', because I know I am just one player, and I'm part of a team so I have to make every effort I can to help out the team. It was a handoff to the runningback, Kenyon Taylor, but he immediately lateraled the ball to Kyle. As he blocked the tackle, I sneaked through a hole in the line, and sacked the quarterback, "I guess there's no foolin' you,"

I offered a hand to him, "Thanks,"

"Any time," I replied, I jogged to the sidelines to get a drink of water and wash out my mouthguard before getting back on the field. These days after practice, I'm wearing a fitted tanktop under my pads, and carrying my pads by the facemask of my helmet. There was my mom leaning on her 2003 Mustang SVT Cobra. She'll never get rid of that car.

"There's mi cariña," she said with a warm tone, my mom is younger than she looks. She's in her forties, but she's not a try-hard to fit in with the in-crowd. She has a mane of coal-black curls that go down to mid-back, rich tanned skin, and more curves than a '69 Stingray Corvette. My dad was a foreign exchange student, and it was love at first sight.

"You'll never grow out of those jeans," I teased her

"No way, I got all this," mom said, playfully swatting her butt

I chuckled as I got in the car and we talked, "So...how was practice? You looking good out there," said mom revving up the engine, and driving out of the parking lot. I haven't heard from coach yet about us possibly playing in Japan. I always was the kid to bring home good grades to put on the fridge. I love football. I know I have to be smart as well.

"It's good, I'm making friends," I replied

"Oh, like the quarterback?" mom teased,

I had a different kind of motivation coming from my parents. You'd probably think that because I have a Japanese dad that he's strict, but no he is different in a great way. It was reflected in the words he said to me when I started school: 'I do not expect perfection, I just want you to be a good student so you can look back knowing you did your best'

From my mom came this: 'School should not be everything to you, cariña, you're at a time in your life to explore and find out what you enjoy in life, when you find it, take it and keep at it'. I love my parents. They are the reason I am where I am now in my life, "I got word from Coach Wilkins that there's a possibility of our team playing football in Japan"

"Really? Did he say how much it is?" she asked,

I shook my head, "No, I haven't heard from him,"

"Well, be sure to let me and papi know as soon as they say something," said mom while paying attention to the road, and stopping at a red light. I nodded, and looked out the window at the town passing by. My mom does not easily get frustrated, and neither does my dad. I will do something brainless at rare times, but not to where they will give up.

I remember the first time I was suspended from school. I stole a cookie in the lunch line, and got caught. I was so scared to go home that day. You'd think my mom would have got out the belt, right? No. Mom was in the middle of an afternoon nap. She moved the blanket to let me be with her. There said a few words that I've never forgotten to this day

'Don't give up on yourself, I will never give up on you'

I haven't gotten in trouble in school ever since that day. My mom and dad push me to do well in school. It is a positively motivated push, and not a hard shove to be perfect. The weekend came around as it will. I went out to fetch the mail while dad was reading the paper, and mom was making breakfast in the kitchen. It might be one of those Saturdays.

Mom will go to the mall to get her nails done, and drop me off at Barnes & Noble to hang out, read manga, and get a coffee. After that, we would pick up dad from the house, and go out to eat and maybe see a movie. I smelled my mom's famous chilaqueles coming from the kitchen. As I looked through the mail, a letter became the start of a journey.