Scout Team: a practice squad made from younger players that gets beat around all week tuning up the varsity hardos for the big game.
Here’s a story from my time on the freshman scout team at Shippensburg University when I got stomped by Mr. Walter Davis.
On every football team the younger guys pay their dues by playing on a practice squad (or JV squad) that gets beat around all week running the opposing team’s offense and defense against the starting varsity players.
Scout team is blue collar. It's sucky and it's awesome at the same time.
For the guys on the scout team, it’s all about facing goliaths day after day for 4 months. The varsity guys are 3-4 years older than you, hit way harder than you do, and can bat you around like a cat toy if you let them.
There is no doubt that scout team CAN make you a better football player but you have to have the nuggets to go 100% on a Tuesday afternoon when the varsity hardos are going ¾ thud.
It’s peer pressure, sometimes literally on steroids.
Going 100% on a Tuesday, that kind of behavior will earn you the label “scout team hero”.
That's a message from the varsity guys that they think you suck.
It was freshman year at Shippensburg University and I was on offensive scout team. We were a bunch of 18 year olds and one 23 year old freshman, a running back and Army Ranger named Chris that talked crap 24-7.
Chris was big for a running back at 220 pounds, was loud and had a heavy southern accent. Being an Army Ranger Chris wasn’t impressed by the varsity starters and he loved to tell them all about it.
Chris got the ball and it was my job to sprint right and kick out big Walt Davis, the starting defensive end, while Chris ran behind my block.
It’s a trap and the trick is stay low and get there fast enough so he won’t see you coming until WHAM, lights out Walter!
Now Walt D was happy and good times off the field, but on the field, Mr. Walter Davis was a monster.
I was 220 pounds of corn fed from Bucks County Pennsylvania, but I managed to surprise Walt and delivered him a good pounding this time and opened up a hole for Chris to run through.
Chris runs 8 yards deep into the starting defense and gets up talking smack... “c’mon red, C’MON RED!”
We’re all high fivin’ and on-the-hop back to the huddle. “HUDDLE up!” I called...
Linebacker coach was pissed. “(F) ME DEFENSE!”!!!
Hearing coach curse out his defense added to the party in our huddle. ”Ha ha ha” we all laughed and bumped around. Suckers...
Then coach yelled “RUN IT AGAIN!”
Our huddle went silent....
Y'see Mr. Walter Davis the defensive end was 275 lbs, mostly in his legs and butt, wicked fast, with a head hard as a truck bumper. The only chance I had against Walt was to surprise him. This time he knew I was coming and I wasn’t comfortable with that.
Chris the Army Ranger didn’t care. He never stopped talking crap, not even once. “HERE WE COME RED... BUNCH OF SCRUBS RUNNIN’ ALL OVER THE STARTIN’ DEFENSE!”.
I pull down the line and Walt delivers a skull splitter to me that stopped me in my tracks. I saw white.
Chris still manages to get 3 yards before getting lit up by Dave the linebacker with the tied up jersey two sizes too small and red doo rag.
“THAT AIN’T SHIT RED!” Chris yells at the sky, flat on his back with Dave the varsity linebacker missionary position on top of him.
“(F) ME, RUN IT AGAIN” coach screams!
I’m like “WHAT???” still gathering my facilities after that last skull splitter and probably even peeing a little.
Mister Walter Davis was off his chain by now and had two things on his immediate agenda. One was to silence Chris, the crap talking Army Ranger running back, but just before that he had a whoopin’ he prepared special, just for me.
So I knew it was coming and that was the worst part. Juuuuust waiting to break the huddle and get stomped.
I took my whoopin from Walt and Chris got his as well, 8 yards deep in OUR backfield this time.
“THERE YA GO REEEEAAAAADDD” Chris the running back yells, grass sticking out his facemask.
Walt walks back to his huddle and flashed a smile my way... “Yeeaaaa baby” he said in a slow deep voice.
I smiled a stupid freshman smile, just happy not to be dead.
There were lessons on both sides of the ball that day, taught the only way they could be learned and we were all a little better for it.
That year our defense trucked the PSAC. The Shippensburg Red Raiders won the PSAC West and we were scout team heroes until the last practice.
Playing JV and running scout team either makes you quit and blame it on coach for screwing you or it makes you a better player. Depends on where your head is and what your goals are.
JV players and freshman scout team heroes grow up.
If they don't quit they get bigger, they get stronger and they get better.
JV and scout team is where we earn spots on next year's varsity squad.
It's where we earn the privilege of playing for our school, beside our teammates, representing our peers and our city.
But it only happens when coach calls our number, not when mom or dad or you whine to coach relentlessly.
We are not entitled to the playing field no matter how great we were a year ago on our last team.
JV and scout team is where perseverance it taught, work ethic learned and it's humbling as can be.
It's where status is earned and not given freely.
Scout team is where the journey to team captain begins years before you're elected.
Scout team is an investment that pays off.
It's where we get better when we're not yet skilled enough, or not yet strong enough, or not yet big enough, or fast enough or mentally tough enough to see the playing field right now...
Not yet that is.
Being on scout team or JV doesn't mean you suck, it means you've got some work to do.
It's where good players from the last level work hard to play at this level.
Scout team is where middle school, high school and college careers are built, blue collar playmakers are made and life lessons are learned.
~ Corey Bornmann
Go C.B West High School Bucks!
Go Shippensburg University Red Raiders!