In life, memories are the truest form of currency.
When the current crop of Manitowoc Lincoln football players graduate and become men, new Ships coach Rick Ducat wants them to have plenty of memories.
“I have a little saying on our kitchen counter that says you don’t remember the days, you remember the moments,” Ducat said. “I thought about that, and I said ‘Let’s chase some memories today.’
“I told the players that when you’re my age, all you’ll have are memories, so I want you to chase them,” he added. “I want you to run around this field making plays, so when you’re my age, you’ll have some memories.”
Learning how to create lasting memories was the top takeaway Ducat wanted to impart with his players as the weeklong mini-camp ended Friday.
This has increased significance with the sudden passing of former Lincoln coach John Dixon after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer last November.
“(The players) will have the memories of their senior year as my first team, but also the memories they had with coach Dixon,” Ducat said. “That’ll be special, because having two different head coaches allows them to create different kinds of memories.”
Lincoln’s starting senior quarterback Trevor Feest said the differences in not having Dixon are apparent.
“There’s a change in the atmosphere,” Feest said. “He’s not there making his jokes anymore. We don’t have his football mentality anymore, so it’ll be different once the season starts.”
Feest is taking Ducat’s words to heart already.
“This is our senior year, so we have to chase memories that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives,” Feest said. “I only have nine guaranteed games left, so I’d like to make the most of it.”
Senior safety Hunter Saubert elaborated on what chasing memories means to him.
“High school is all about the memories you make, not just on the field, but in the locker room and the bus, during practice, everything,” Saubert said.
“With his loss, we’re missing a part of us, inside, so it’ll not really be a replacement but help fill that void a little bit,” senior all-Fox River Classic Conference linebacker Isaac Pethan said of Dixon and searching for new life-long memories.
It’s not just the players who are adjusting to not having Dixon around, Ducat himself is learning what it’s like to be the man everyone’s looking at.
“I enjoy it,” Ducat said. “The players have responded to me very well. It’s been very enjoyable to be back on the field with a lot of the kids. It’s always nice to be on the field.”
He may not be on the field, but the former coach is still with the team.
“We were over by the chutes and that was always one of (Dixon’s) favorite areas because there’s a tree nearby so we were giggling about that,” Ducat said. “I find myself thinking a lot of times or even saying to myself ‘this is how John would run it’ or ‘this is how John would call it.’ I’m not doing that purposely to keep his memory alive, that’s just how he taught me.”
Ducat is also learning the not-so-glamorous parts of being head coach.
“Everyone goes into it with rose-colored glasses, but cleaning the locker room on a Wednesday night when it was a little too dirty, we talked about that the following day,” Ducat said. “With me being the leader, I’m going to take step one, from here on out they’re going to follow my lead. You never think about those things, but I’m in that (equipment shed) or taking care of kids. It keeps me quite busy.”
With Lincoln’s mini-camp in the books, Pethan knows Dixon would like what he’s seeing so far from the Ships.
“He was always looking at how we were improving, so already throughout this week we’ve come a long ways,” Pethan said. “We started out with basics, bellies, sweeps, easy plays. Now today, we were running counters, screens all sorts of things that make your head spin a bit. We’ve come along, and he’d be looking positively on how we’ve been improving.”