· Episode 12 ·
Earlier, we learned that Shawn Harris and Reuben Schrock are friends even though Shawn had previously been the hit-and-run driver in an accident involving his truck and the Schrock horse-and-wagon. Dot, Shawn’s girlfriend, and Katie, Reuben’s date, were on their way to the bowling alley when stopped by Deputy Jennings. Both Reuben and Katie have grown up Amish but are currently exploring the English (non-Amish) world during their time of rumspringa, a word translated as “running around.”
“Kate, if you need any help finding the right ball, let me know, okay?” asked Dot.
“Thanks, I’m looking for the same one I used before,” answered Katie.
“Dot!” someone yelled from a distance.
Dot turned around and saw Coach Carter approaching with her arms spread wide open.
“Coach, its great seeing you again!” said Dot as the two hugged. “I didn’t know you ever got over here. Are you scouting?”
“No, just meeting friends; they should be here in a minute,” explained Coach.
Katie returned, holding a bowling ball. She waited.
Dot turned to Katie and said, “Kate, this is a friend of mine, we call her Coach; if you ever want tips on your bowling, she’s the one to ask, only she’s usually in Wichita.”
“Nice to meet you,” said Katie.
“Any friend of Dot’s is a friend of mine,” said Coach, as she held out her hand and the two shook.
Katie smiled but she wasn’t sure what else to do. Coach was English, almost as old as her grandmother, her hair shorter than Reuben’s, and her skin a shade lighter than the dark, short-sleeved shirt the women wore. It had her name ‘Coach’ stitched into the shiny fabric and the words “Go Shockers!” on a sleeve. Unlike Katie, Coach wore long pants.
Katie’s blouse and skirt, along with her free-flowing straight hair, were monumental changes for her. In the Amish world, an hour earlier, she wore a typical, long, plain-colored dress with her hair hidden, not on exhibit to the public.
Starting with the name ‘Dot’, Katie added this lady’s name to her list of English people she had recently met.
She could imagine the conversation the next day when her mother grilled her about what she had done the previous night. “Oh, nothing,” Katie would reply, “just hung out and talked with my new friends, Dot and Coach.”
Her mother would know immediately they were English, but she would still need to ask, “Are they girls or boys?”
“We’re taking our new friends bowling tonight,” said Dot to Coach.
“Oh, I see Shawn’s already got a lane,” said Coach, looking towards the bowling area.
“Let’s go say hello,” said Dot. “I’ll introduce you to Reuben, Kate’s boyfriend.”
The women joined the men by the lanes. Introductions followed.
Now it was Shawn’s turn to compliment Coach. “I raised my average ten points by following Coach’s advice. Thanks again, Coach.”
“My pleasure, Shawn. Anytime.”
“One of these days Reuben and Kate might want some tips from you,” said Shawn, “but for now they’re stuck with us.”
“Do you two attend Prairie Grove High School?” asked Coach.
“No, we’re out of school,” replied Reuben.
“They’re Amish, they live near Humble,” added Shawn, “and they don’t believe in high school so they’re not on a bowling team . . . yet.”
Reuben liked Shawn but he was getting a little tired of his new friend being an expert on the Amish. Even though Reuben had just met Coach, he wanted to correct the narrative.
“We believe in learning what we need to know for our work and family,” said Reuben, “but we’re not supposed to be exposed to too many changes outside the Amish. What am I saying? thought Reuben. I’m defending the Amish way while I’m dressed in English clothes and getting ready to bowl!
“Some students or scholars work and study though a vocational program called ‘On the Farm’ after they turn fourteen,” Reuben continued. “I studied through my parents and teacher.”
“Our parents don’t want us to grow up away from the farm or the religion,” added Katie. “Did you know that the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1972 that we couldn’t be forced to attend school past the eighth grade?
“Yes,” answered Coach. “Wisconsin vs. Yoder. It decided the law was unconstitutional because it violated the Amish rights under the First Amendment which guarantees free exercise of religion.
Katie was surprised anytime a person outside the Amish, unless they were an attorney, knew about the legal case.
“What are your last names?” Coach asked.
“I’m a Schrock,” said Reuben.
“I’m a Knepp,” answered Katie.
Looking at Reuben, Coach asked, “Do you have any relatives with the first name of Jersey?”
Reuben thought for a second. It was an unusual person’s name. “I don’t know of anyone by that name but we raise Jersey dairy cows!” replied Reuben.
“When I attended Wichita State back in the 1980’s, there was an amazing football player named Jersey Schrock. He was from Cottonwood County and lived near Humble.”
Reuben didn’t know what else to say. He didn’t know a Jersey Schrock. He’d already told her that.
“He only played two years because the college disbanded the football team after the 1986 season,” she continued. “I never heard what happened to Jersey. If he would have gone professional, I know the media would have jumped all over that story. As a college sophomore he was already a talented standout player. He played the offensive line and had a stellar reputation for protecting the quarterback.”
“I never heard of him either,” said Shawn. “Of course that was way before our time.”
Shawn caught himself, “Well, not that long ago,” said Shawn, a little embarrassed as he considered Coach’s age.
“I’m no spring chicken,” commented Coach. “It was thirty-five years ago, but about ten years back the WSU Alumni Association held a special celebration at Cessna Stadium for former football players and coaches. I was there in the audience, looking for Jersey, but he never showed up.”
“Maybe he’s dead,” said Shawn.
“Yes, he could be dead. It’s been a long time since my college days, but I remember one thing for sure about Jersey Schrock. He was raised Amish.”
To be continued.
Until next time, happy writing and reading!