Padecky: SRJC football coach's plea to his players
If time should pass and the phone doesn’t ring late at night and the night merges without interruption into the morning, Lenny Wagner can find himself slipping into the comfort most of us consider peace.
“If it doesn’t happen for a long time,” said SRJC’s head football coach, “you sleep well.”
But if a call comes without advance notice, if it’s the police, Wagner would like to kid himself it’s a friend. “Most of the cops in this town,” he said, “played for me.” Ah, but usually those are the kind of calls that throw a stink eye into sleep. Those are the calls that come for one and only one reason.
A teenager found out he wasn’t bulletproof after all. A teenager who carelessly pushed the outside of the envelope and the envelope pushed back.
“Don’t think it can’t happen to you!” Wagner was standing in Room 2004 of Lark Hall on Thursday. It was the first player meeting of SRJC’s football season and 125 guys were sitting in front of him. Wagner was asking them to throw away that bulletproof cape so common to teenage boys. “Consequences are different for you now than ever before. You’re not at home. You’re on your own. And the consequences for you are different than for anybody else on this campus.”
Wagner decided not to go into a deeper “getting-to-know-me” conversation. The time wasn’t right. Not now. The topic to be detailed was too complex, too emotional. He was just laying the foundation for the discussions that will most definitely include the ultimate consequence.
It’s one that has saddled Wagner with too many sleepless nights.
“This is the first time I had an ex-player kill somebody,” Wagner said.
Six days ago, Logologoa Tevaseu was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for the second-degree murder of Sonoma State student Paulette Geronimo Quiba, 21, in a November 2017 DUI crash. Before that, he will serve an additional three years for causing injuries to five others in the crash. The jury returned a verdict within six hours.
A part-time SRJC football coach and full-time college liaison to financially strapped students, Tevaseu is not a teenager. He’s 37. But he drove while drunk. If there is ever a target audience in which a word of caution need to be applied toward drunken driving, it’s the group of football players sitting in front of Wagner.
On an average weekend, a car crash is responsible for the death of a teen every hour, according to the website “Los Angeles DUI Experts.” In 45% of those crashes, alcohol is involved. Drivers under the age of 21 are 17 times more likely to experience a fatal car crash when their blood alcohol level is at least .08% than with no alcohol in their system.
“You guys are under a microscope,” Wagner told his team. That microscope will narrow its focus considerably when the season begins. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Wagner will talk to his team about drinking and partying.
“On Thursday I will tell them not to go out late and hoot like an owl,” Wagner said. “On Friday I will tell them we got a good team coming the next day and we need to get a good amount of sleep with a clear head. On Saturday I will tell them to relax but to do it responsibly.”