RICHMOND HIGH SCHOOL - COACHING TOUGHNESS
BILL DISBROW – SLYTHERIN In 1987, my Richmond High basketball coach, Bill Disbrow was teaching me how to become a tougher basketball player.
Disbrow’s toughness drill was simple yet affective. He’d randomly drop the ball anywhere inside the basketball key area then hustle himself to closely defend me from scoring. My job was simple… pick up the ball, then drive my bony elbow straight into his face – causing him and hopefully other defenders (in real games), to immediately shift back – no one wants an elbow smashing and disfiguring their athletic face. Evidently my elbow arrived too early for Bill (he couldn’t react quick enough) as my I caught him perfectly – clean under the chin.
I remember hearing Bill’s mandible rattle, then seeing him instantly turn away, wincing in pain. I ran to him. “God, are you okay?” Bill shook his head ‘NO’. He was white. Already, I could see the blood pouring out from the creases in his mouth. Then, Bill ever so gently stuck his tongue out (never stick your tongue out kids), to show me the damage – asking me to assess his injury. Somehow, very miraculously, I managed to split his tongue ‘straight down the middle.‘ In an instant, my head coach had become a human snake. This was a major reptilian ordeal. He needed oral stitches stat – otherwise running the “offense & defense” would become “offenth & defenth.” Or, he would forevermore be introduced as Biww Dithbrow. Both sides of Bill’s tongue split perfectly down the middle ~2.5cm (one inch) – and when he stuck his tongue straight out, each end of his split tongue, angrily diverged like two boxers after the bell. At Hogwarts, the Sorting Hat would have sent him to Slytherin.
Bill uttered, “I’m going to tha hothpida” and I asked to tag along. When the doctors said, “you’ll need umpteen stitches,” I asked if I could watch. Nasty stuff, yet Dithbrow healed quickly. I thought it was one of the neatest things I had ever seen.
We never returned to finish the toughness drill. But our teams still went on to do ok.