October 5, 2012
Kickin' It With Kitch: On Ralph and Robert
Standing on the sideline last week getting ready for the game I got a chance to chat with Robert Marve and Ralph Bolden for a short time. It got me thinking about life as an injured player.
For first four-and-a-half of my five years at Purdue, I never missed a practice or game. I had taken pride in never being part of the "Barney Crew." Coach Joe Tiller made all injured players wear purple jerseys (meaning they were off limits for contact) in an attempt to get players back on the field as soon as possible. When I blew my back out, I had to put one of those jerseys on and it almost killed me. I felt shame that I was getting my school paid for and not able to fulfill my obligation to represent Purdue in the football field. As Coach Jim Chaney would say "Kitch get off the bike, you're stealing from the university."
I saw Ralph and Robert just itching to get on the field. I understand their frustration. There are only so many opportunities to play the game of football at a competitive level, and with both of them being seniors, they know their opportunities may be slipping away.
My senior year, my roommate Craig Terrill and I were both injured enough that we could not play in a home game. We thought that it might be cool to see what happens outside of Ross-Ade on game day. So we took off and went to the intramural fields, where his family was tailgating. I was amazed at the vastness of people tailgating and how far it all reached.
Back then, we did not go through all of the tailgate lots on a bus like players do now. We use to walk from the Union to the pregame meal and all we would see were breakfast clubbers and those doing the walk of shame. You have never seen anyone more embarrassed than a girl in high heels with basketball shorts on carrying her clothes from the night before walking by eighty football players.
But that day, seeing everything in full blown tailgate mode really gave me an appreciation of all that the fans do to support this team and the lengths they go to. As we walked back to the stadium, we were left with a little bit of an empty feeling. It was cool seeing everything that goes into a Purdue football game day, but we really felt helpless sitting on the sideline not being able to affect the outcome of the game.
I have faith this coaching staff will get Ralph and Robert back helping this team when the time is right. I have no idea when that will be, but whenever it is I know that both Robert and Ralph will give absolutely every ounce of effort that they have for Purdue University and our fans. I was fortunate enough to play in front of many sold-out crowds in Ross-Ade and I think that Saturday will be a step in the right direction for this team to be able to play in front of a few of those this year. There really is nothing better than to run out onto that field and see every seat filled and every fan amped up with anticipation of a great performance.
Follow me on twitter during every game as I will let you in on what I see from the sideline @kelly_kitchel
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