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Build it and good things will happen

I was reading an article about Houston Texans rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson the other day. In the article, his head coach Bill O’Brien gave a quote about how DeShaun is the same person every day in the locker room, whether the team wins or loses.
Locker room was the key part of his quote to me. You see, the Mobridge-Pollock Tigers football team does not have one. They have not had one since the new school was built right on top of where the old practice field was.
Now don’t get me wrong; they do have a locker room where they dress before games on Friday, but that is merely a room. A locker room is an entity. It is a community. It is a home for team that is a family.
First, for those of you who do not know, right now the football players all go to practice on their own. They leave school and drive or get a ride or walk across town to the practice field. They are not together in preparation. They are not sharing their oneness.
You see a locker room is a home to a team, a sanctuary from all things not football related. A place where the team shares its unique personalities, quirks, its good and its not so good. It is a home where they are brothers, all striving to reach the same goal. It is a place where they are a football family and no one else is allowed. It is the place where they bond together, where they learn about hierarchy and trust. It is the place where they learn to care about one another and fight for one another. It is the place where freshmen are told what to do as the team’s little brothers. Where these same freshmen learn to become sophomores, sophomores learn to become juniors and juniors learn to become seniors, and seniors learn to lead. It is the place where each class learns to understand the importance of their collective role as a team and as a family.
It is also a place where the coaches are more patriarchal. It is where meetings with the entire team or with single individuals can be held in private, sitting in chairs, looking one another in the eyes.
I can speak about this having been a part of a locker room for four years and watching my senior son, Michael, play for four years on a team that did not get to have a locker room. He, his classmates, and a few years of players in the recent past did not get to learn about how singularly-minded a team can become when more than three months of every year are spent sharing a locker room home.
The recent Tiger players leave the program without really knowing who let the smelliest farts, or had the stinkiest feet. They do not know who was the most fastidious at self-grooming. They do not know which teammate knows the meaning of fastidious. The underclassmen do not know which senior could tell the best jokes or could talk proficiently about the most subjects.
And that’s just personalities growing and melding together. There are myriad football related reasons to be under one roof also.
I do know there has been talk of building a locker room at Tiger Stadium. I also know that it will not come cheap to do it right. But remember, a locker room at the football field would not be for the next team or the team after that. It would be a football home for Tiger football players for years to come.
Build it and good things will happen.