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Hometown Livin g At Its Best 53 playing the tuba was looking pretty good. He was a 14-year-old kid, after all. While the guys on the football team spent their summers getting ready for the coming season, Fred sat in a lifeguard stand watching over the lives of the boys and girls in the pool. More and more people began to tell him that he could do so much for the football team. “I was one of the bigger kids at Vidalia at that time,” said Fred. And yet, “I would probably have chosen to play professional basketball, but I realized I’m only 6’ 4”. I’d look like a pipsqueak out there with guys like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Just before my senior year of high school, I thought, ‘I might as well play football while I have the chance.’” On the first day back to school, he walked into the gym and asked Coach Buck Cravey if he could try out for the football team. “Well, he doesn’t mince words. He says in that old raspy voice, ‘Those boys have been working hard for three weeks in the hot sun while you’ve been making sure the girls don’t drown down there at the pool. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. If you run a mile every day after practice to let your teammates know and the coaches know that you’re really serious about this, I’ll let you play.’ I sat Living At Its Best 33


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