Unfinished business. That’s what this column is all about. No matter how much is said and done, I always have to get in the last word. (Just ask my husband.)
Yes, after reading all the news stories about Cecil Flowe’s retirement from his quarter century coaching career at Parkview, I recalled his mantra, “Unfinished Business,” from Parkview’s 1997 AAAA state championship.
The media captured the big moments and the big stars, but behind the scenes was a backstage view that I was privileged to see as a substitute teacher. And a mother.
First I saw how diligent Flowe and his coaching staff were in their team building efforts.
My son Leif was not in the staring lineup. In fact, he only played a few quarters that entire season. But he played on the team five days a week. Every morning he and 70 other young men left home at 6:30 a.m. And came home at 6:30 p.m. The coaches were doing something right to keep them coming back, knowing full well they may have, at best, one cameo appearance on the field.
Several times Leif mentioned Coach Flowe taking him aside and encouraging him. Every player knew that simply being on the team made him part of their success.
When I subbed, I saw not a bit of arrogance among the players or the cheerleaders. Flowe’s team spirit truly flowed (C’mon, you knew I had to get that pun in there!) throughout the entire school.
The Touchdown Club posted inspirational messages on lockers before each game. As the Panthers approached the semifinals, the whole faculty showed their spirit. Strings of orange lights bedecked the halls. The chemistry department posted molecular diagrams illustrating puns like “They’re all gas. Liquify them. Pack them solid!”
Language Arts students wrote and illustrated a Panther poem on a 30-foot mural. As you entered Steve Mussman’s and Gary Petmecky’s social studies wing, you were devoured by giant paper mache panther.
But it was exactly 15 years ago to this day that Coach Flowe’s Panthers really showed their team spirit after their teammate Leif lost his younger brother Loren in a car wreck on Thanksgiving Eve.
This was Thanksgiving break and many people were traveling. But even without emails, texts or tweets, Coach Flowe got in touch with the entire team. And they came together — as a team — to Loren’s funeral.
I was aware before the service that they would be there, but I assumed they would be in coat and tie like everyone else. There are no words to relate how stirring it was as I stood in the pulpit delivering my eulogy to see 70 young men, sitting at attention in their orange jerseys.
Coach Flowe may be retiring from football, but my last word on this is that I know when it comes to team building in his community, Coach Flowe will always find some “unfinished business.”
Susan Larson is a writer and Parkview football fan. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.