Above: Anthony White during football practice at Buena Park High. (Courtesy photo)
When I worked at the Orange County Register I made sure to religiously read certain writers at our paper. Among them was Jeff Miller, a general sports columnist. It’s not often Miller — one of the best columnists in the country — writes about high school sports, but Buena Park’s football team certainly caught his attention. All you have to do is read the first few paragraphs, and the story captivates you. Regardless of your opinion on White’s short stint at Temple City, you’ll want to read this. If this story doesn’t move you, nothing else will.
The words come out of a dark silhouette, detailing a story of abuse, of seeing Dad, drunk and raging, beat Mom, until he could force himself between the two, turning the incensed old man back into the night.
The room is still and faintly black, the shadows meant to blur the speaker’s features and sharpen the listeners’ attention. The kid stands alone and talks, his voice wavering, his story a cold, straight line.
OK, next. Now a second boy is up, sharing his details. One by one they rise and offer something about themselves, their home life, their situation. The stories almost always begin with unsettling confessions – a scab ripped raw – and end with building tears. A group of high schoolers sitting in a classroom, a place where growth is supposed to happen.
So, this, this is part of coaching football? Hearing kids tell tales of domestic violence and drug-addicted parents and nights spent homeless? It is here, at Buena Park, where they have all sorts of situations.