SEBASTOPOL - The principal wants to see you.
A high school kid doesn't want to hear that, anymore more than hearing your mother wants to give you a big hug in front of the entire student body.
That message went out Monday morning at Analy High School. Principal Chris Heller sent out call slips to every player on the football team. Be at the gym at 11 a.m. Attendance is mandatory. No reason was given.
"I know they were thinking they did something wrong," Heller said. "When I got to the gym, before I said anything, they started clapping. I'm guessing they were trying to soften me a little, butter me up."
Heller didn't even tell Analy coach Dan Bourdon why he should be there. Be there, Dan. We're going to talk about logistics for the next game (the NCS semifinal Friday against El Cerrito).
"How long is the meeting?" Bourdon asked.
"About an hour," Heller said.
An hour? Bourdon thought. For logistics? Logistics for what? To launch an invasion? Of El Cerrito? I'm not an infantry officer.
"Relax, you did nothing wrong," Heller told he kids. "But there will be a very special person talking about motivation and inspiration and preparedness."
And with that, Joe Montana walked into the gym. To silence.
"They didn't clap," Heller said. "They were stunned."
Montana walked in, head down, not with the air of entitlement that you'd think would come from being the greatest quarterback who ever lived. Montana is rather shy with strangers, even the adoring ones. As he approached the podium, many of the Analy players still sat in silence.
"I don't think it registered for a lot of them that this was Montana," Heller said.
A former Analy coach, maybe a dude who pulled someone from a burning car or rescued a baby from a house fire, this probably what they were thinking, Heller said.
"And then Joe started talking about his Super Bowls," Heller said, "and you could see their eyes widen."
The light went on. Holy macaroni, this is Joe Freaking Montana! Four-time Super Bowl champion.
"It took my breath away," said wide receiver and linebacker Dylan Mathias.
How Montana made it to Analy was a story in itself. His sister-in-law, Audrey Leach, teaches English at Analy. About a month ago, one of her students, wide receiver Stefan Carrasco, approached Leach after class.
"Mrs. Leach," Carrasco said, "if we go undefeated during league, would it be possible for your brother-in-law to talk to the team?"
The idea to ask Montana to campus was actually Mathias'. But Mathias thought the idea would be rejected immediately, maybe with an "Are you kidding me?" reaction.
"So I asked him (Carrasco) to do it," said Mathias, the team leader.
Leach didn't shoot down the idea, but she didn't rubber-stamp it, either.
"I said I'd think about it," Leach said, and for a while there didn't seem much to think about. For starters, the season was far from over. Secondly, Leach is very respectful of Montana's privacy and the demands on his time.
So assiduous is she in this regard, Leach has avoided using her sister-pull with Jennifer Montana to approach Joe. In fact, she had asked Jennifer only once before, in 1995, and Montana did come to her Analy class to speak on what it's like to be a celebrity.