I didn’t always dream of becoming a writer.
I was going to become an NFL quarterback. I could throw a perfect spiral in fourth grade – with a plastic ball OR a Nerf. Talk about versatility. I had all the tools.
Except the talent and physical gifts.
But if dreams were those things, I’d be giving a Hall of Fame speech at some point. As early as I can remember, I had a love affair with the game of football.
The cool thing about my quarterback aspirations is that nothing could dent them.
And when stuff happens in life and obstacles pop up, I remember those days. When I’d doodle pictures of my jersey in the margins of my homework assignments.
My teacher, Mrs. Gunby, asked me once about the jersey – Pacheco, #10, same as my idol, Seahawks quarterback Jim Zorn. That’s what I’m going to wear, I told her, when I play in the NFL. She squawked. Yeah right!
I didn’t mind that. I didn’t play in the NFL, but not because of Mrs. Gunby.
I was the kid who brought the ball to recess, but didn’t star in the game. I was more likely to get big laughs, not get in the end zone. But damn, did I love football.
There’s more than one way onto the field, though.
As my friends passed me with growth spurts, I grew as a writer. As they became starters on the team, I fought like hell to be their backups. When they made the high school team, I made my way to a class called Intro to Journalism.
Our friend Kent even made it to the Division I college level.
He played for Oregon – or was it Oregon State? We teased him that we didn’t know the difference. I’m a duck, not a beaver! he’d yell at us, and yes, it sounded as ridiculous then as it does now.
Finding a way
As my friends went off to college, too, they were already looking back at the good old days of football.
My good days had just gotten started. I got a job my final year in college covering an NFL expansion team called the Carolina Panthers. At halftime, writers gorged themselves on Carolina barbecue in the press box.
I tried to do my English homework (but usually gave up for the barbecue.)
I toiled my way from small paper to big, interviewing high school kids on Fridays, NFL stars on Sundays. I learned my craft and as my friends watched from the couch, I got to tell the stories. One day, I even got to talk to the same guy I was going to wear No. 10 in honor of: Jim Zorn.
By then, I was a middle aged dad – he was a quarterbacks coach.
I wasn’t throwing spirals, I was asking questions. I thought of Mrs. Gunby, and how I never had to say goodbye to a dream. I had to find a different way there, that’s all.
But talking to players … that’s not the same. It can’t be as exciting as being ON the field, can it?
A is for Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, Adam and Avril, and Amidala
B is for Bonnie Marie Williams, voiceover superhero, a #GirlsRock interview
C is for Conversations, Camdyn and cookies (#GratitudeAndShit)
D is for Dorsey Standish, yoga teacher and mindfulness coach, for #GirlsRock
E is for End-of-your-career awards
F is for Frank, my uncle
G is for 💇🏽♂️ Go Ask Daddy about what you GET to keep on Flea Market Flip, if I’m GOING to sit in a racecar next time I get my hair cut, and how high basketball scores GO
H is for ✊🏻 haiku (my quarantine journal)
I is for being IN progress, IMMUNE system meditations and INSIGHT (for #GratitudeAndShit)
J is for Jess Cohn, an interview with a senior acquisitions editor, for #GirlsRock
K is for Kelly Calhoun, an interview with an influencer, reporter and model, for #GirlsRock
L is for learn
M is for middle finger, mercy rules, and mating (Go Ask Daddy)
N is for Nancy Kempa, realtor and translator, for #GirlsRock
🎡 O is for observing, opportunities, and optimism (#GratitudeAndShit)
P is for purify your mindset
Ah yes, the 1980s … when we all thought that hairdo was a good idea. 😉
Fun to get another glimpse into your life, Eli. Thanks for sharing!
It *was* a good idea, wasn’t it? Thank you for taking the glimpse, Sharon. It’s wonderful to have you here.
You became the start of your own story, your own way. Excellent.
I wasn’t sure which was it was going, but I went. We all do that, right, Mimi?
you coulda’ been a contender! i think it’s great that you became a starter in another arena.
Oh, I coulda! The cool thing, I can still play a little in this one, and get better with age, I hope.