Nathan Summerfield #1446682
I was hesitant the first time I played a sport in prison. For two weeks, I watched inmates play touch football at a competitive level. One day, I noticed they were short a player and were searching for someone.
I walked over. “You guys need another player?”
Their gazes danced up and down my 175 pound frame, obviously doubting my ability to play well.
After I intercepted a pass, they told me to try running back. The QB tucked a hand-off into my stomach and I took off running. For the first time in more than 11 years, I was playing football. The ground felt shaky beneath my feet and I wondered if I could still play this game at all.
For a brief moment, I felt certain I was going to fall flat on my face. Then my stride quickened. Suddenly, my old instincts flooded my body and life rushed through my veins. I felt my opponents closing in on me and I twisted my body in ways it hadn’t moved in a long time. I watched the defenders fly right by as I ran in for the touchdown. I looked back and the QB was smiling, running to slap me a high-five.
The wind gusted at great speed and no shadows existed in the wide-open land, only light. For a second, I could have sworn I was standing in the end zone of Community Stadium, thousands of Ashland fans breaking out in applause. I could have sworn I heard trumpets sounding off a celebration. I could have sworn my family stood in the stands, cheering me on.
Then I looked up and into the distance and saw only a razor-wire fence. There was no crowd, only a group of fellow inmates looking on. My world was far from being normal. My world was far from being okay. But I could still play and I felt wholly alive. The moment wasn’t much, but it was something. I turned back to my new teammates.
And I kept on playing.