The Coaching Hours Page 1

We’ve all heard whispers about her, but we never knew if they were true:

Coach has a daughter.

Some kid he didn’t raise but has been living with him now—a transfer student from a smaller school out east. How do I know this? A few guys overheard him yammering on and on about her to some of the coaching support staff on a night they forgot the walls have ears.

“She’s a chip off the old block.”

“We’re finally getting to spend time with her after all these years of her living with her mother.”

“She must get her looks from his ex-wife.”

Yeah, thank God for that last one; Coach is one rough-looking motherfucker. Short and angry and prematurely gray, I like to compare him to a wrinkled old troll who lives under a bridge, one who’s seen better days. A pissed off, miserable old sonofabitch, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the old man smile—not once.

Certainly not in my direction anyway.

I squat a few more times, beads of perspiration dripping down the indent of my spine, knees buckling under the three hundred and twenty-five-pound weights stacked on either side of the bar. I’m pushing myself harder than I’ve pushed since arriving to the Iowa wrestling program, the pressure to perform greater now that the new guy, Rhett Rabideaux, is threatening everyone’s spot on the team.

With the team’s two stars gone, I want every opportunity to steal a spot on Coach’s good side, to replace those winningest few as the new golden boy and rise to the top.

They made us all look bad.

Like lazy fucks.

I do three more squats before I’m interrupted by Rex Gunderson, my roommate and the wrestling team’s manager. The towel he’s holding is accompanied by a water bottle with my name on it, written in Sharpie but wearing off.

“Wrap it up.” He snaps me in the ass with the towel. “Team pow wow in five.”

I press the weights again.



Squat. Drop the barb to the ground, stepping back when it bounces on the weight room floor with a satisfying thud.

“What’s it about?” I snatch the white towel out of his hands before he can snap me a second time.

Gunderson shrugs beneath his black Iowa wrestling polo, looking like a complete fuckstick in his lame khakis.

“I don’t know, they don’t tell me shit anymore.”

I don’t point out that they don’t tell him anything anymore because they no longer trust him; he can’t keep his damn mouth shut, and he’s always pulling pranks on people.

He babbles on, shrugging his bony shoulders. “Probably information about Clemson this weekend.”

Probably, although there’s nothing special about the Clemson University meet that would warrant an emergency assembly. Nevertheless, I peel off my sweat-soaked t-shirt and wipe down my chest, my neck. Give my blond hair a tussle.

I’m sweating like a whore in church, and it feels fucking great.

It takes three minutes to amble into the locker room, take a bench by my cube. Gunderson is standing in the doorway with a clipboard, taking attendance, making sure we’re all accounted for, all assembled to hear whatever it is Coach has to say.

Must be important—I’ve only seen him take attendance twice in the entire two years I’ve been on this team.

“Ladies, listen up.” Without preamble, Coach wastes no time. “I want your asses on the bus at nine sharp tomorrow—we’re heading out early. Masters, I want you in the gym first light working on that form—you look like shit. You’ve been slacking lately.” Donnelly leans against the metal desk at the front of the locker room, crossing his meaty arms. His weathered skin has seen its fair share of hard work.

He rubs his chin, the beard he’s been cultivating gray and trimmed short.

“There is one more thing I want to mention before I let you leave tonight, gentlemen. One thing I want to make clear: my daughter—who I’ve thus far managed to keep far, far away from you ingrates—is going to become a student here.” This earns some curious glances from the other members of the team, brows raised.

Coach continues. “When school starts, you will no doubt see her in and out of my office from time to time. She will be using the facilities to get her workouts in. I am telling you now, stay away from her. If I catch any of you sniffing around, I will hand you your ass so fast, when you wake up, your clothes will be out of style.”

A few guys laugh.

Gray, tired eyes narrow. “I don’t want you befriending her. I don’t want you offering to play tour guide. I don’t want you dating her.”

I watch as Gunderson raises the clipboard to cover his mouth; the moron is probably smiling behind it.

“Be civil. Be gentlemen. Leave her alone. Are we clear?”

The room is silent.

“I said, are we clear?” Coach bellows when only a few guys nod. A few grumble.

“Yes Coach,” we chorus like good boy scouts.

He grabs a spiral notebook off the desk and stands. “Get dressed and get the hell out of here. Check in tonight at eleven—I expect you all to be home.”

I shuck my shorts, wrapping a towel around my waist. Hit the shower, the cool water sluicing down my hard body. Lather up, washing away the daily grime. I’m not the tallest member of the team, not the most fit or the best looking, but I do all right for myself.

Honestly, my record isn’t the greatest either, but I don’t suck, and at least I continue making the team—which is more than I can say for my roommate, who slinks to my side when I return to my locker.

Gunderson’s bony shoulder hits the cube where I store all my shit, his beady eyes alive with a mischievous glint.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Rex starts in as I’m drying my thighs and chest, pulling on a clean pair of shorts.

“I have no idea what you’re thinking.”

Don’t know if I want to know.

“About Coach’s daughter.”

“You mean the one he told us to stay the fuck away from?” I yank my bag out, dropping it on the ground. Toss in my sneakers. “That coach’s daughter?”

“Yeah.” He gets into my personal space, a little too close for comfort. “I bet you don’t have the balls to bang her.”

I pause, turning to face him for the first time since he walked over. “Are you out of your fucking mind?”

Why does he do this shit?

Why do we let him talk? I should tell him to shut the fuck up, put an end to this entire conversation, but resistance has never been my strong suit. If there was a big red button on the wall that said DO NOT PRESS…I would press it.

“The last time you had an idea, you got us into trouble.”

The last time he had an idea, we plastered our ex-roommate’s ugly mug on campus to help get the poor bastard laid. It worked—a little too well, because he promptly moved out and in with his smoking hot girlfriend, leaving us with his portion of the rent and a big empty bedroom we can’t fill.

Not to mention, Coach is still riding our asses about all the pranks we pulled on him. The coaching staff kept calling it hazing—I mean, if you want to get technical about it, sure, maybe it was, but no one got hurt, or died, or had to pull their pants down in public.

The shitty part about it? Gunderson and I have had to keep our heads down, noses to the ground to stay out of trouble since they’re watching us. I’ve had to bust my balls in the practice gym and on the mats just to prove all over again that I’m worthy of being on the team, of them keeping me on the roster.

Gunderson gets closer. “You can’t tell me your mind didn’t immediately go there when he mentioned her.”

“No, I can tell you that.” I grab a clean shirt out of my locker. “My mind didn’t go there.”

But now that it has…

“Why not?” he prods, breathing down my neck, lowering his voice. “You don’t think you could fuck Coach’s daughter?”

My head whips around and I make sure no one is listening. “Jesus Christ, could you not talk about that shit here? If anyone hears you, we’re both fucked.”

He backs up a pace, slugging my bicep. “Think about it, man. You banging Coach’s daughter—bragging rights for months.”