In my freshman year of high school, we were warming up for our second game of the season. As we stretched, the coach walked by and told me that I would be a captain for the game. I nodded then he walked away while I pondered the awesome responsibilities that might be required of me.
I wondered if I should move to the front of the team to lead the exercises. But there were already two players leading, and it would have caused a scene if I pushed them aside. But I was the captain. Didn't I have the duty to take over? Instead I decided I would do some shouting to inspire the team.
“Yeah, okay, woo-hoo!” I shouted through my helmet
The player next to me looked at me and said, “God bless you.” He apparently thought I sneezed.
Just before gametime, the referee led my co-captain and myself to the middle of the field for instructions and the coin toss.
The referee said, “Now when there is a penalty, raise your hand so we can find you and go over the possibilities. We don't want you looking at your coaches for assistance. This will be a good learning experience.”
He then flipped the coin, and I called, “Heads.”
The coin came up tails and allowed our opponent to get the ball first. As we jogged off the field, my co-captain said, “You idiot! We always call tails.”
“What? Since when? Nobody told me that.”
He just sighed.
When we got back to the sideline, I saw him talking to the coach who then glared at me. Apparently I had missed the super secret captain's meeting where such matters were discussed.
“It's not like the coin toss is going to decide the game,” I told myself in a little pep talk.
Five minutes later, we came off the field after the other team had taken the ball and driven right down the field for a touchdown. I noticed the coach frowning at me again.
Later in the game when were down 20 – 0 (and reducing the importance of the coin flip), the other team was flagged for a penalty. The referee grabbed me by the shoulder and steered me away from my teammates and away from my coach on the sidelines. He started explaining my options, but having played and seen enough football, I already knew the correct decision.
Regardless, out of the corner of my eye, I could see my coach practically doing backflips trying to signal me what to do. Meanwhile, my teammates followed the referee and myself as we seemed to dance around the field trying to avoid coaches and players. My teammates yelled at me to accept the play and not the penalty which I had already decided to do.
“We'll decline,” I told the referee while motioning my hands in the normal referee decline signal.
“What?” asked the referee as if he were a novice.
“We don't want the penalty.”
“So you want the play?”
“Yes, that's what I said.”
The referee then approached the sidelines where he announced, “The penalty is declined.” He waved his hands below the waist just like I had done a minute before.
The game ended shortly thereafter. But I have always been annoyed that I got blamed for something I didn't know (always call tails) and everyone else took credit for the one penalty decision I had to make.
Later that season, that day's co-captain and myself were named captains again. As we went out for the coin toss, I told him he could make the call.
The referee tossed the coin and my co-captain said, “Heads.”
I stared at him in disbelief as the coin turned up heads, and we got the ball first.
As we ran off the field, I said, “I thought we always called tails?”
“I just had a feeling.”
The coach slapped him on the back when we got back to the sideline. I guess some captains are born leaders and others are destined to be stuck in a regiment of majors.