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All Points West: Waterboy, the most valuable player
September 16, 2016 Frank Marquez   

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Actor and Comedian Adam Sandler appeared in the 1998 film “The Waterboy” as featured character Robert ‘Bobby’ Boucher Jr., a sort of simpleton who manned the sidelines for fictional college team the South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs, assigned to serve up the cool clear liquid. Early in the film he negotiates its importance with Coach Klein (Henry Winkler of Happy Days fame Fonzi), also revealing the reason he became a waterboy: His father died of dehydration in the Sahara Desert while serving in the Peace Corps.

Explaining the importance of water, this was the movie’s classic exchange:

Klein: Gatorade not only quenches your thirst better, it tastes better too, idiot.

Bobby: No. You people drinkin’ the wrong water.

Klein: Gatorade.

Bobby: H20

Klein: Gatorade. (singing) Water sucks, it really sucks. Water sucks.

According to Wikipedia, Gatorade was formulated by a team of scientists at the University of Florida College of Medicine. Following a request from the Florida Gators Football Head Coach Ray Graves, the concoction made up of water (there’s a surprise), sugar, citric acid and other ingredients which give the sports drink its flavor, was created to help athletes by acting as a replacement for lost body fluids during games. Ten Gators tested it, which school scientists deemed a success.

Star quarterback at the time, Steve Spurrier, who went on to coach at several colleges and pro teams, and is now back at Florida this year as a sports consultant, said, “I don’t’ have any answer for whether the Gatorade helped us be a better second-half team or not … We drank it, but whether it helped us in the second half, who knows?”

Now, half a century later, the drink, or perhaps the bottles are omnipresent, not just on football sidelines, but at basketball games, volleyball and tennis matches, and even the junior football league at Terrytown’s Carpenter Center.

At the start of the season, Gering Football Head Coach Todd Ekart employed 11-year-olds Taydon Gorsuch, and Gorsuch’s twin cousins Luke and Eli Franklin visiting from Kansas. The three were given specific assignments during Gering’s Blue-Gold (or what is now known as the Gatorade) scrimmage during the game in late August; the three were divided among offense, defense and special teams, and responsible for getting water to exhausted players, which almost guaranteed that almost every one of the Bulldogs on the field that night had the get-up-and-go to finish.

Coaches know that, and therefore will take extreme measures to make sure their players are properly hydrated. Adrenaline increases heart rates, and burns fuel more quickly. Like oil in a car, water is even more valuable.

Last week on Friday during a game between the Mitchell Tigers and the Kimball Longhorns, the Tigers waterboy, or should I say young man, John Plasencio, carried the valuable resource up and down the sideline as sweaty players came off the field, in between plays and during timeouts. Games consist of four 12-minute quarters which can stretch into three, sometimes almost four hours. If the game goes into overtime, or multiple overtimes, maybe five hours (Sports fans can only hope).

Mitchell Football Head Coach Jimmie Rhodes hollered several times for this linchpin of activity, the waterboy, during the longer timeouts and when the referees discussed calls or for getting injured players off the field.

Plasencio’s job was to hand out the cool oversized bottles, seemingly an endless supply because I didn’t see him refill the bottles, not once, unless there was a garden hose nearby. He was that prepared.

According to the United States Geological Survey’s water science school, the brain and heart are composed of 73 percent, and even the bones are a watery 31 percent. What goes out of the body, must be replaced, or the body cannot work at its optimum. Water to the brain means players make better decisions, but I find it peculiar how I have never seen a coach sip water, or even Gatorade on the sidelines. Water to the heart, well, that goes without saying. All coaches want their teams to play with heart.

Ultimately, safe to say, no water, no game.

Even though Bobby Boucher, with all his pent up frustration of being undervalued as the H20 minstrel, eventually converted to being a successful linebacker and hero for the Mud Dogs, let us not lose sight of the more important message in this story.

The Waterboy, and others like him, may be just as important as the coach, quarterback, or the likes of Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl most valuable player Von Miller.

OK, let’s not get carried away.

The next time you see the waterboy, this unsung hero of sports, coming off the field carrying his six-pack of Gatorade bottles, thank him for keeping your team going.

Therefore, and for the record, water doesn’t suck.
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