Neah Bay, on the Makah Reservation a basketball town really, but crazy about football. No, not really, just supportive of the kids, no matter what the sport. We play B-8 football, just lost 42-40 in overtime to Columbia Hunters, despite a 3-3 record going into the playoffs. How did we make the playoffs? That is a long and curious story. Did we belong? Well, Columbia Hunters were undefeated, rated second in State, and we took them into overtime. That’s why they play the game.
Neah Bay is back in B-8 football for the second season, after spending two seasons in the B-11 classification. B-8 is for schools with less than 100 students in grades 9 – 12. Three years ago we exceeded that population, and it almost killed our program.
For two years we languished without a league, without much of a schedule and with kids losing interest in playing at all. Can a program ever really die? Ask Joyce, I’m sorry, I mean Crescent — the team 2nd closest down the road, but still an hour’s drive. The Loggers won the B-8 championships, won the B-boys and girls track champions all in one year. We ended their football domination in a playoff game played in Clallam Bay, our nearest competitor, 19 miles down the road, but about a 30-minute drive, (only if you do the speed limit). While we won the game, I believe their program lost its steam when the community of Joyce invited Soccer into their midst. Participation declined for football until they could no longer field a youth football team. Most people would call it Little League football, but “Little League” is a description legally claimed by Little League baseball, and since we are small communities without deep pockets, we had no choice but to go to Youth football, needing to avoid a lawsuit. Imagine, litigation at kids sports. Yes, in America it can happen.
Columbia-Hunters, the team we lost to by two in overtime in the semi-finals was beaten by LaCrosse-Washtucna
(13-0) 56- 8 in the state B-8 final. The game was called in the fourth quarter, even though the 45 point “mercy” rule is suspended for the Play-offs. I guess a two-point loss beats an old-fashioned whipping, but who am I to say?
The Neah Bay Warriors, our youth team won the A team and B team division championships. It’s been a few years since we’ve won, but we’ve won more championships than any other of the communities. We are the smallest community in the league.
I became involved in sports when we lived in Alexandria, Virginia. My Dad was asked if he’d like to help with a local little league baseball program. He said yes, and when we showed up for the first day he was asked if he’d like to help. He again said yes, and he was told to pick out 25 kids from a sea of boys milling around a baseball field. They would be his baseball team. From helping out to be the head coach, in the blink of two yes’s.
Dad didn’t get to me before I was picked by another father who had said yes, maybe more than one time too. We came to the field a family and left as competitors. I was only nine years old, I was happy and scared to be playing, and disappointed I wasn’t on my Dad’s team. Practice dates were set, and a league schedule was made and we were on our way to playing baseball.
I don’t remember a lot about my first team, except that we were named the Astros. I did get excited that after one practice we were told we would be getting our uniforms at the next workout. I was disappointed that the outfit turned out to be a t-shirt and a baseball cap. I was a fan of the Washington Senators — I watched them on TV, we went to a few games, I knew what a baseball uniform looked like. I’m not sure my Dad got to attend my first game. Our schedules didn’t mesh, he may have been coaching his first game while I was playing mine. I do know that at my first games with the Astros I found out how other kids could be mean. We were the ASS-tro nuts, Asssssssssss-tro’s, Ass you name it they called it and the parents seemed to think it was all funny. It was the mid-sixties when going to school involved just a few years in the past included air raid drills where you went to the basement of the school or duck, and cover and I didn’t know anything that any of that meant. I only remembered going to rooms with big yellow and black signs posted at their entrance. So, those parents probably needed the laugh.
In order to get our lives on one schedule, Dad worked out a trade between the coach of the Astros and his team. I think Dad was coaching a kid whose father was coaching on the Astros. I hope neither one of us were the player to be named later. I traded my red cap and t-shirt for Dad’s green cap and t shirts. Turns out Jerry Seinfeld was right, you don’t root for a team, your root for their laundry.
We didn’t win the league that year. I think we played for the championship. I pitched, (my Dad was the coach, so of course, I was the pitcher) and I played first base. We lost to a team whom Dad said was full of Babe Ruth aged rejects. I only remember they were bigger than us, except for one pitcher. His name was Mark, and he had only a few fingers on his catching hand. How he held his glove on amazed me. Dad used to grumble after we lost, that some of the kids shaved before they played the game. Mark was in my grade at Hollin Hall Elementary, and we found out he lived only a few blocks down the road from us. He was the only male friend I had. I lived in a cul de sac where ]six houses lining the circle. Four houses were in the cul de sac, two of the homes were really on the main street. One guy lived next door who was near my age. He lived with his Mom, I never met his Dad or why only his Mom lived there. He had this great collection of army men. He would set them up to play war just like I did. Only he would use his hand to knock down all the toy soldiers, ending the war in only seconds. I liked to shoot things one at a time from one side to another. I could do it for hours. John decided to hit me over the head with a pipe one day, I didn’t see much of him after that.
My Mom and Dad became friends with the Redihoughs. They lived in the house directly across the circle. I never knew who lived to the right of their home. Next to that one was John’s house then our house, then the house on the corner. The house on the corner had a girl about my age, by the name of Cindy, could have been Sandy. The house to the left of the Redihoughs, also on the corner and more on the main street than in the cul de sac, was home to another girl my age. Her name was Sandy, or maybe Cindy. I have three sisters. Sandy and Cindy were my close friends. Mark was down the street, and across the street, so I’d have to get a ride to go there. Mark wore sweaters to school. I tried emulating him and began to wear sweaters too. That became a pattern in my life, trying to follow someone I looked up to.
Mark’s Dad heard about my Dad’s complaint about his older team, and Mark didn’t like me wearing sweaters like he did, so our friendship was short lived.
Besides losing to Mark’s team and the Asssss – tros of the first game, I don’t remember a lot about that first season. I do remember we played our home games at Hollin Hall. They had two baseball diamonds on the school grounds. We showed for a game against another team who didn’t get all of its players to show up. They forfeited the game, and we filled out their team for them with kids from our side. I got to pitch against Dad’s team. The team I threw on won the game.
Living in the D.C. area, I grew up a fan of the Washington Senators who always lost to the Yankees, well, to everybody it seemed. My hero was Frank Howard, the home run hitting first baseman. I also liked Eddie Brinkman. What I didn’t know was that the Senators I watched were an expansion team in 1961. It was this team that broke my heart when they moved to become the Texas Rangers in 1972. When we moved from D.C. to Neah Bay in 1967, my Mom and Dad told everyone that I was going to go back to Washington to become a Senator when I grew up. Despite the fact that I didn’t really have any talent, the dream died with the move of the franchise.