Friday, November 7, 2014

One Tough Cookie That Doesn't Get Soft in November Rain

When I was growing up, the band Guns ‘n Roses had a song November Rain. I don’t remember what the song was about, but I do remember the music video was about nine minutes long. When you are a teenager, nine minutes can seem like an eternity. Last week, when our Fighting Tigers football team lost to Apollo Ridge in the play-offs, the feeling I had of being punched in the gut and the weight of an anvil on my heart seemed to last an eternity, like that music video. Truth be told, while it seems much gets done at Tiger Pause the week after a Beaver Falls loss, I feel less motivated to do it.

You see, there is a very special young man graduating high school this year. He wasn’t the fastest or even the strongest on the team, but, have no doubt about it, he is what every father desires his son to be—one tough cookie. Peter Lyons, who broke the New Brighton Lions’ backs this year when the game was deadlocked and momentum hung in the balance, scamped 40+ yards as a full back for a touchdown, running over half of New Brighton’s team. He kept the “jug” home.

Our paths crossed six years ago when he and his brother, Big Mike, would come across the street after school to the Tiger Pause Boys’ Center. They were typical middle school boys. They smelled, they were unruly, and, did I mention, they smelled. We did everything together. We went on trips across the country and eventually started working together. But, the funniest time we had was when we put on those boxing gloves and beat each other senseless. And no matter how hard I hit him, he would never go down. He reminds me of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull when he tells Sugar Ray Robinson, “You never knocked me down, Ray!” One day, Pete got me good and bloodied my lip. By his reaction, you would have thought he knocked out Mike Tyson. If I was the legend, he was the legend killer and he told everyone who would listen.

Petey Pie (my nickname for him) grew up with a hard life. He lost his mom two years ago, stays with different family members, fumbled the ball against the Quips on the 3-yard line, and could have ended up like any other self-destructive, troubled teen. He’s not out of the woods yet, so keep him in your prayers.

Here are some unpublished stats if you ever want to get an autograph from Pete:

  • Petey has a smile that will light up a room.
  • After scoring two touchdowns against Summit, when they called Pete’s number again, he let a fellow teammate get a touchdown instead.
  • For one of our moving jobs, he traveled with us to San Francisco and back in five days.
  • The first and only kid who made Mr. Matt bleed.
  • He ran 11th Street hill at 6:30 a.m. to get ready for football season.
  • He went to Busch Gardens because all the other guys wanted to, even though he doesn’t like rollercoasters.
  • He went on a missions trip to West Virginia with Park Presbyterian Church. There is not a time when I see anyone from that church where they don’t smile and ask about Petey. 

People often tell me how great Tiger Pause is doing or what a good job I have done, but we all know it is the Lord. I thank the Lord when He sends boys like Petey because he inspires us to be tougher and go one more round. Love you, Pete. Proud of ya! And as Mr. K would say, “I’m for ya!”

Semper fi,
Matt Nance

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