Jerry was parked on the street. The music was blaring so loud that I could hear it as I walked towards the car. He just got a black dodge challenger for his birthday; it was his dream car. I believe, he believes, he has more game with it. Anyways, I pull open the door and I almost fall over from the stupid loud music. “Dude. Turn it down!” I yell into the car, as I sit down.
“What?” Jerry questions me. He finally turns down the music, “What did you say? I couldn’t hear you?” Once we were buckled up, he started driving towards school.
“Exactly, I said to turn the music down. I could hear it as I walked to the car. You are going to drown out your eardrums so much you won’t hear the starting beep at a swim meet. Well now as I say that out loud, it sounds like a great idea; you should definitely do that so that I can beat you off the start as well.” I say grinning to myself.
“Haha very funny, but no problem, Dude,” Jerry said as he put the music to a relative lower volume, “I could always turn on some classical music; that might be your style instead. I wanted to get into the mood for practice with the head banging tunes. It gets me in the mood to die.” Jerry said as he pulled into back parking lot, behind the gym. “You ready to die?”
“No, not really. My head is killing me. But knowing coach he won’t care; he will still expect one hundred percent from me,” I say as we gather our gear and head to the gym.
“Yeah, you don’t look so good. You feeling okay, Dude?” Jerry said as we head into the quiet locker rooms; we were usually the first ones to early morning practices.
“I’m good. Just a long night,” remembering Dad was hopefully still asleep at home, “let’s get changed and go talk to coach about his plans for today.”
Walking out onto the pool deck I almost trample a young girl. She looked about six or seven years old; she was pushing around a baby stroller with a small plush puppy in the seat.
“Daddy?” the little girl let out a sharp shriek. “Daddy!?!” She said again as she ran away from us, but leaving her stroller behind. She disappeared into Coach’s office.
“…Coach?” Jerry uttered but didn’t finish the thought.
I grabbed the stroller and walked quickly to Coach’s office; Jerry trailed close behind me. At the entrance of the office, we were suddenly stopped by Coach, who was carrying the little girl in his arms. He didn’t look so tough with a little girl latched onto his neck.
“Coach. We ahh…” I stopped speaking as the little girl lifted her head and look at me.
“Daddy, he almost stepped on me,” she said accusingly and pointing at me. “Look, he even stole my puppy,” she said as she instead pointed at the puppy.
“…Coach. We didn’t. I mean I did almost step on her, but I’m not stealing…” I was trying to form complete thoughts but end up letting go of the stroller so that it rolled towards Coach.
“Little Lily. George wouldn’t take your dog, and see he gave it back to you,” Coach sighed deeply answering the little girl clutching onto him.
Jerry had been quiet. I side-glance him and he is just dumbfounded. I was too, but I wanted to be somewhat sane, “we were going to ask about your plans for practice, but..?”
“Yes. We can still do that. Lily, Daddy has to speak to his swimmers a moment. Go sit on my chair and draw me a picture please,” Coach said as he let the little girl down; she skirted off to the desk chair. “Let’s step out a little bit.”
It was silent for a bit; we three just stood outside the office. “Coach. The rest of the team are going to start showing up,” not really wanting to be the one to break the silence, but I knew Jerry was not going to speak.
“Yeah…the little girl is my daughter. My leaving practices early was due to that little thing,” Coach sighed towards the girl sitting in his chair happily drawing. “Her mother didn’t tell me about her, but since Lily’s mom died in a car accident, I am the only one able to take her. Since I don’t know anything about parenting I decided to bring her to practice more; also, my babysitter couldn’t come. Look at me babbling like a idiot,” Coach said combing his fingers through his hair.
“So…Lily…?” Jerry finally spoke.
“Her full name right now if Lily Rose Grant; I’ll be adding Brown onto the end as her legal name; we will call her Little Lily or Lily as her mom did. Anyways you don’t need to hear anymore about this. Instead, I need you two to be a little more aware of the team today; mostly because I need to keep an eye on my daughter. She gets into everything.” Coach said looking back at the small body in his office chair.
“No problem Coach, I would suggest though that maybe you look for an assistant coach or a student baby sitter; that way you could still Coach, but have your daughter around. On the other hand, before everyone else arrives what’s the plan today?” I wish I could help Coach more; he seemed at his wits end.
“I’ll write it on the board, and I’ll give them an explanation during stretching. Just go over to the stretching area and wait for your teammates.” Coach said as he walked back into the office. We watched as he walked up to Little Lily and began quietly talking to her. Lily’s face beamed with happiness, as she was held up her drawing.