Winning Habits

| October 7, 2011
Senior lineman Eric Graehler was out the door of his St. Matthews home at 6:45 a.m.

Senior lineman Eric Graehler was out the door of his St. Matthews home at 6:45 a.m.

Stout defense and a clinical 27-point second half gave Trinity’s football team a convincing 41-6 win over St. Xavier last Friday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

The Rocks moved to 6-0 and earned their third straight victory over the Tigers (3-4).

“I thought we had excellent game plans on both sides of the ball,” said Trinity coach Bob Beatty. “I want to compliment our kids on their preparation. I thought they did an excellent job.”

Sound preparation has been a constant theme all season, but how do the players – just teenagers – prepare to play in front of 30,000 fans, while also managing schoolwork, friends, family and countless other responsibilities?

To find out, I tagged along with senior lineman Eric Graehler last Friday as he navigated a jam-packed day leading up to the season’s biggest game.

Graehler (6-foot, 210 pounds) is a two-year starter at right tackle and is vice president of the senior class. In addition, he wrestles, plays lacrosse and is a member of the National Honor Society and Beta Club.

Here is how Graehler prepared for last Friday’s game:

Wake-up, 6:15 a.m. – Although he is agile and explosive on the field, Graehler took a decidedly lethargic approach to the hours before sunrise. “I’m not a morning person,” he said, while downing his breakfast of choice: a spoonful of peanut butter and orange Gatorade. “I try to do as little as possible in the morning.”

Graehler took notes in environmental science class.

Graehler took notes in environmental science class.

Sleep did not come easy the night before.

“Usually I don’t have much trouble getting to sleep, but when we play St. X you hear all the talk and that stuff gets you riled up.”

6:45 a.m. – Next, he was out the door and made the mile-and-a-half drive from his St. Matthews home to Trinity. He arrived early to assist a group of 70 eighth grade shadows.

“It can be scary coming in here for the first time so I greet them and make sure they get to their hosts.”

9:30 a.m. – After first period religion class and Advanced Placement (AP) English Literature, Graehler tuned in to Trinity Television (TTV), a student-produced, schoolwide broadcast that, during Pride Week, featured daily videos hyping upcoming games and events.

9:40 a.m. – Graehler then sat for a test in AP Psychology. “The atmosphere is different during Pride Week, but I’ve still got to do stuff.”

Members of the Trinity football team including Graehler (center), congregated before the pep rally.

Members of the Trinity football team including Graehler (center), congregated before the pep rally.

2 p.m. – Following a drum line performance at lunch and the day’s final class (Environmental Science), the football team congregated outside the gym and waited as the rest of the school filed in for a spirited pep rally.

A loud ovation greeted the players.

“When you walk in and everyone’s cheering, it gets you going,” he said.

3 p.m. – The rally complete, it was back home for two hours of video games and relaxation with teammates. “Before every game since sophomore year, I and 10 other guys on the team have gone to my house and played Super Mario Strikers.”

“I think I’m the undisputed best, but it’s a game of upsets,” Graehler joked.

5 p.m. – After reporting to the locker room and completing a walk-through with the offense, Graehler was informed by offensive coordinator Andrew Coverdale that he would serve as a captain during the game. Two offensive and two defensive players are selected before each game based on performance in practices.

Graehler holding the trophy after Trinity's win.

Graehler holding the trophy after Trinity's win.

6:15 p.m. – Players loaded the bus and Graehler popped in his ear buds for the 15-minute drive.

8 p.m. – Coin toss. “We like to start with the ball and set the tempo with our offense, so when I walked out there I just wanted to win the toss.”

The Rocks won the toss and elected to receive.

Kickoff, 8:05 p.m. – After a long week of practice, a restless Thursday night and a hectic slate of classes, it was finally go time.

As a large contingent of Graehler’s family and friends cheered from the stands, he pulled on his helmet and took to the field.

Contact columnist Chris Cahill at ccahill@voice-tribune.com.

photos by CHRIS CAHILL | contributing photographer

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Category: High School Sports Report

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Chris Cahill

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