12 Days of Blog Posts: 30 Years Ago...

Today my Timehop app reminded that 30 years ago my eldest brother, Chet, made a huge special teams play in the Oregon State football play-offs. This week Chet had knee surgery, but like me, even though it was thirty years ago, I'm sure he remembers that cold December night. He has a better memory than I do.

It's been a cold start to winter in the Pacific Northwest, and even though I'm far away, I can imagine the cold, the rain in Portland, the snow in Bend, and that treacherous mountain pass Mom hated to drive.

Here is an excerpt from Through Eyes Like Mine of that legendary play. Heal up, Big Brother!

It's cold and the road over the Cascades is slick with black ice. Mom closes her eyes most of the trip but she's even more concerned about Chet riding the team bus on this icy mountain pass.

The drive usually takes three hours, but today it takes almost five. We finally arrive in Portland just before the game starts. Half of the field is frozen and covered in ice. I scan the stadium for Chet. He plays cornerback and special teams so when the Cougars are on defense or when there's a kick off or punt we all stand up and cheer for number 42.

The players on both teams struggle for traction on the frozen field and neither team scores. In the final quarter it's fourth and long for Gresham so they set up to punt.

I spot Chet's number 42 waiting on the right side of the backfield, almost in the other team's end zone. The Gresham center hikes and the punter sends the ball flying through the air, right to my big brother.

Chet catches the ball and sprints toward the sideline.

He gets a block and shakes off a tackle. He runs up the sideline so all that's in front of him is a field of solid ice.

I scream. We all scream, the whole family, the whole crowd. We jump and cheer, hoping Chet won't slip, that he'll make it to the end zone.

I watch my brother. I watch him run like I've watched him my whole life. I've watched him run through snow in the backyard, down a basketball court, and from first to third on a base hit to the right side. He's always been so big to me, but out on that field, with all those other football players, he looks tiny.

Chet runs fast, but as he sprints down that football field, it looks like he's moving in slow motion.

20 yards, 15, 10, 5...

Chet skates on top of the ice for the last five yards and glides into the end zone. He jumps into the air and his teammates tackle him in celebration. We cheer and as the score changes Chet jogs to the sideline.

With Mountain View in the lead, we wait for the final minutes to wind down. The last seconds tick off the clock and the crowd's roar cuts through the frozen air.

 The team celebrates on the field and Chet takes off his helmet. His coaches and teammates slap him on the back and mess up his dark hair. Chet looks up into the stands, searching for us. We wave and yell his name until finally he spots us and waves back.

I can't stop staring because he's smiling. Under the bright lights of the icy stadium my brother's face glows. Chet is really smiling again.

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