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Carl Ficks

Piles Of You Know What

We all have piles…

Piles of bills…Piles of obligations…Piles of yard work…Piles of stress…Piles of homework…Piles of anxiety…Piles of sh**… well you get the idea…

In normal times, it’s hard enough to deal with all those piles. 

But right now…it’s even harder. 

I had the good fortune of playing high school football for “Coach P,” a legend in Connecticut. 

One of Coach P’s favorite sayings was “keep pushing the pile.” 

He’d bark it out to the offensive linemen, cajoling them to push downfield for more yardage. He’d scream it at the defense to help thwart our opponent’s advance. 

Back then that command was literal.

But Coach P’s words have always stayed with me. 

About five weeks before the 2011 NYC Marathon, plantar fasciitis hit my right foot hard. I tapered on the training, slept with a night splint, did some PT, taped the foot and showed up in Staten Island ready to run. And run I did, clipping off the first 16 miles and enjoying all that Brooklyn and Queens, and the maniacal fans, had to offer. 

I cruised over the 59th Street Bridge, looking forward to entering Manhattan and running up First Avenue. 

And then… suddenly…that evil plantar fasciitis brought me to my knees.

First Avenue seemed a long way off.

The finish line a painful improbability.

Until… I saw Coach P!

There he was! 

In my mind’s eye, I could see him… leaning over my shoulder… right up in my face.

I could hear him…shouting: “Ficks, keep pushing the pile!”

I dragged my sorry right foot through the next 10 miles… and “triumphantly” limped across the finish line in Central Park.

Because… I kept pushing the pile.

I think of my mother, who raised three children. Pushing the pile

I think of my mother-in-law, who raised six children. Pushing the pile

I think of my father, who served in the Army Air Forces in Guam during WWII. Pushing the pile

I think of my father-in-law, who served with the Navy during the same war and fought in the Battle of Luzon. Pushing the pile

I think of my nephew, a Marine sniper who fought in Iraq. Pushing the pile

I think of the athletes with disabilities I know accomplishing extraordinary feats. Pushing the pile

I think of Coach P. who, in the words of Kenny Chesney, was “a teacher, a preacher. A mother, a father. A lot less taker than giver…and constantly making believers outta quitters.”

Pushing the pile

They all helped make me a believer…

… and to honor their collective legacies, I keep pushing the pile… 

So… tell me…

In these uncharted waters… in these moments when history will be written…

Whose legacy can you honor?

Who needs your help, your smile, your words of encouragement?

Your service…

Your love….

What’s your pile? 

….and how can you keep pushing it? … now… more than ever. 

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