Where would I be without Coach Cain?
Jim Grammer, When it was a game
Playing football for J.P. Cain was the experience of a lifetime. I think it did nothing but prepare me for life.
Among those who played for Coach, there is a bond that is immeasurable; an admiration I think we have never really conveyed to him. He touched so many lives in so many ways. I, personally, would hate to think of where I would be today if not for him.
Those hot afternoons he worked us so hard out on the practice field, and those times he taught us how to be humble … and the times when he would not tolerate us giving anything but our best … and the times we celebrated and mourned together. All the guys who played for Coach in the 50s and 60s owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude.
I think I speak for all the guys who played for Coach when I say we love him dearly.
But Coach, there is just one thing I want to know. What in the world were coaches thinking back in those days when they would not allow a player to have any water during those hot, dry practices?
Well now that I think about it, there is something else that still bothers me. What was this business of players not being allowed to drink carbonated drinks during football season? I'm not talking about a cold beer or anything like that, I'm talking about drinking a Coke or Pepsi.
For the most part, players adhered to Coach's training rules the best they could, but I will admit there was a time when temptation got the best of my brother Richard, Johnny and me.
Back in 1965, Bud Weaver's store sold the new, 16-ounce RC Colas. They were the coldest in town. Plus, they were only a dime.
After a hot, dry practice on those August afternoons, Richard, Johnny and I would stop in at Bud Weaver's and down a few RC's. We knew it was against Coach Cain's training rules, but Bud Weaver's was way out on Hwy 31 – way out of town.
You can't believe how good a cold, 16-ounce RC tastes after a long, hot practice; a practice where you were provided no water at all. So hot you suffered from "cotton mouth."
Well after about a week, Coach caught us, and we had to suffer the consequences. The next afternoon after practice, he ran us until I thought I was going to die. We were exhausted to begin with, and he made us run "stop and go on the whistle" until we were staggering.
Now, keep in mind this is for drinking a RC Cola. At every interval, we would use whatever breath we had to beg for forgiveness. We would promise to never drink another carbonated drink.
To this day, I don't know how Coach found out about our after-school habit.
After Coach finally let us go, Richard, Johnny and I made it into our car and headed for home, exhausted to the point no one said a word.
As we approached Bud Weaver's store, Richard automatically turned into the entrance. We got out and headed straight for the drink machine, inserted a dime, and drank the best 16-ounce RC Cola of our life.
Bud Weaver just stood behind the counter, smiling.