To the editor:
One of my high school football coaches passed away on July 4 of all days. I shouldn't be surprised, as Coach Pellerin was quite the patriot. And I say that even though he never won any medals in battle, piloted a plane on a bombing run or even, to my knowledge, ever wore the uniform. I say that because he was the best kind of American. An honest man who loved his wife and raised his children with a firm, fair and soft loving hand.
He dedicated his life to shaping and molding the lives of young people. For nearly a half a century he taught and coached. As a teacher he was a terrific coach, and as a coach he was a spectacular teacher.
I remember a man that was short in stature but large in presence. I remember a man that I always wanted to please and definitely someone whose good side I cherished. I remember someone who got more out of me because he saw that there was more in me.
But what he taught me is how I'll remember him best. He taught me to believe in myself and my abilities. He taught me that there was a distinct difference between the difficult and the impossible. Specifically the thing that in my mind's eye is synonymous with Coach Pellerin is 'Cancel the Bus'. It's a story I have often shared to many groups in Texas and it's, far and away, the greatest, and best sports accomplishment that I've personally been a party to. Better than winning a national championship and even better than completing seven marathons in seven days on seven continents.
Back in 1985, Coach Pellerin and Coach Murgo found themselves at the helm of a pitiful program suffering a prolonged losing streak. PHS had lost 11 games in a row and we were about to play the best team in Western Mass., Hoosac Valley, who had won 11 in a row. The coaches gathered us around on our first day of practice prior to a game that for all intents and purposes seemed hopeless.
They told us that HV had already ordered their bus to the Super Bowl game. They clearly were looking past us and didn't take us seriously. Coach Pellerin told us that that should hurt! We shouldn't be embarrassed we should be angry. And we should teach them a lesson. The coaches made up little round white stickers that said 'Cancel the Bus.' They told us they had a new scheme and a plan to win. But we'd have to work harder for two weeks than we ever had. We would all have to gel perfectly as a team and if we did all that we'd shock the world...or at least our tiny part of it. We didn't buy in at first but eventually we all experienced these infectious virtues. Belief. Faith. Trust. Love. Commitment. Selflessness. The score of the game? Pittsfield High 38, Hoosac Valley 7
Thirty years ago and that's still with me. I suppose it always will be. Without patriots like Buddy Pellerin we wouldn't have the country we do. We wouldn't have young people who realize what servant leadership really is. We would have far more people let their fears stop them and not bother chasing their dreams. And we wouldn't have had a hapless gaggle of teenage football players come together to cancel that damn bus!
Thanks Coach. For everything.
The writer is a 1986 graduate of Pittsfield High School.