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Excerpt No. 3
from "For What I Hate I Do."

After the NCAAs, but before departing for Houston for the summer, I had to meet with the coach about my academic meltdown. This spelled trouble.

“Come in, Mr. Morris. Close the door!”

I eased the door shut and took a seat to face judgment.

“Relax, Miguel. It’s not brain surgery,” said Coach Kit, trying to ease my anxiety. I cracked a smile at his attempt at humor, but the coach assured me that this was no laughing matter. “I want to start off by saying congratulations once again on your victory in Utah. As you can see, I have placed the team’s time on the record board. Looks nice, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Look at this, Miguel. The entire squad is ranked 17th in the nation. Now that’s an accomplishment.”

“Yes, sir,” I responded, noticing our second - and fourth-place rankings in the mile-relay event in a magazine on his desk.

“Now, why couldn’t you perform like this in your physics and chemistry classes, Morris?”

“I’m not sure, Coach!”

“You’re not sure, Morris? Well, be sure of this. You are now on academic probation. And that’s serious business!” Coach Kit said, pounding his fist on the desk. “You’ve never had problems with grades before, Miguel. And I know you can do the work. So, what’s the problem? Girls? This is sad, Morris. Two ‘As’, a ‘D’ and two ‘Fs.’ You have a 1.97 GPA, Miguel. Not acceptable!”

“Well, Coach I … ”

“You what?” he interrupted.

“I’m having personal problems.”

“Like what, Morris?” Coach asked.

“Well, my oldest sister was diagnosed with MS,” I said, trying to explain why my scholastic performance cratered.

“Multiple sclerosis?” asked Coach Kit, now sitting upright in his chair.

“Yes, sir. And I haven’t been able to focus lately because of it and other matters.” I tried to weasel out of the discussion by talking about my family problems while leaving out the dirty secrets about my sexual encounters with other athletes.

“Well, Miguel, I can sympathize with you, son, but you have to get yourself focused in a hurry. You only have this one chance to correct your grades, or else …”

“Or else I’m out?” I said, completing his sentence.

“Yes. Out!” he emphasized. “The university is very strict where academics are concerned. Star athlete or not, you must make the grade.

“Yes, sir.”

“While on the subject of being strict, you now must report to the dean of technology before you leave campus tomorrow. Matter of fact, he’s waiting on you now,” said Coach Kit, glancing at his watch.

“Right now?” I asked, with wide eyes and a racing heartbeat.
“Yes, now. Miguel.”

I was petrified as I slowly left Coach Kit’s office to visit the dean. I had heard rumors about him concerning black athletes. Many believed his policies were biased against minorities. Now it was my time to face truth and consequence before this alleged racist bastard.

When I arrived my knees began to buckle and my stomach churned. It seemed as if all energy had been zapped from my body, which weakened like a wet noodle. I was about to face my executioner, a 250-pound tyrant, about my future at Mississippi State University.

“So, Mr. Morris, how’s your day been, son?”

“Not good, sir,” I said wanting to get out of there as soon as possible.

“And why is that, Morris?”

“Because of my grades, Dean Kramer.”

“Your grades, huh.”

“Yes, sir. My grades.”

“Well, Morris, how did we get to this point, son? Please explain that to me, boy!”

“Boy?” How dare he call me “boy,” I said under my breath as I tempered my anger.

“Well, Dean, it’s like this,” I said trying to explain, seething with anger.

“Excuse me?”

“I mean, sir. Somehow I got behind in my studies because of personal problems. I just lost focus and interest. That’s all.”

“Well, Morris, you cannot just give up, son, because of a few bumps in the road. You’ll find that there are a lot of hurdles in life, and that’s not an excuse for failure. Does that make sense, son?”

“Yes, sir, Dean Kramer.”

“Good because we need you to pull your grades together and get back on track, so to speak. Keep in mind, Morris, you can be replaced; there are a lot of kids who would love to be in your shoes, boy. Do you understand me?”

“Yes, sir, I understand.” But he better not call me boy again, I thought to myself. I swear I’ll kick his ass.

“Perfect! Now this is the situation. You need a 3.0 to stay afloat here, Morris. Summer school is in your future. We will not settle for anything under a ‘B’ average from you this summer. So the ball’s in your court. Can you make the grade?”

“Yes, sir, Dean Kramer.”

“Just what I wanted to hear, because I know you don’t wanna be a ditch digger like your daddy, Morris. Do you?”

“My father’s not a ditch digger, sir!” I answered tersely. Now I was really pissed.

“That argument may constitute your belief, but the fact still remains he’s supervising backhoe operators in the hot outdoors. Is that what you want to do?”

“No, sir,” I said, masking my fury. What right did he have to insult my dad or me?

“Good! So get it together, Morris. Is there anything you would like to ask me before I end this meeting?”

“No, sir. Not really,” I answered. I was too hot under the collar to delay my exit from his office. I didn’t need him to say another word, or I was going to be all over his white ass – school or no school.

 
 

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