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|It was Sunday morning in the Student Pub at University of Miami. Andrew and Carrie were sitting down at a table, and Tony had just left to fill out the paperwork. Andrew’s parents were taking a tour of the campus and talking to a few of the professors. Connor and Ralph came in and sat down at the table.
“That was amazing Andrew,” Connor said. “I can’t believe you were able to lift the bench with both of us on it!”
“Thanks man,” said Andrew. “I guess I will have to wait until spring break to lift the team bench here with the players on it. Once I am introduced to them of course.”
“I have a feeling you are going to get an introduction earlier than you expected,” said Carrie.
“What do you mean?” Andrew asked.
“Look over at the entrance,” Carrie replied. “Aren’t those the same guys who were watching us while Mr. Malcolm had you perform some of the strength tests?”
Andrew looked over and saw that Carrie was right. He then saw the guys notice him and head towards the table.
“I hope this isn’t going to be trouble,” he said to the others, as the four guys surrounded the table.
“So, you’re the coach’s new favourite, are you?” the biggest guy asked Andrew.
“What are you talking about?” asked Andrew. “What’s your name man?”
“I’m Anthony and I’m the Head Offensive Lineman, as well as Co-Captain of the football team,” Anthony replied.
“What a coincidence, so am I,” Andrew said, “at my high school, that is.”
“So you think you’ll just walk in here, and take my place do you?” snapped Anthony.
“What are you talking about?” asked Andrew. “I’m not trying to take your place. You still have one year left.”
“Don’t give me that!” Anthony sneered. “All the coach talks about is Andrew this and Andrew that! ‘Andrew benches his car’, and ‘Andrew pulls five defenders with him as he scores touchdowns!’ Well, I’m sick of hearing about you! Let’s see some proof!”
“What kind of proof?” asked Andrew, remaining calm.
“Take a swing at me,” Anthony goaded him. “Knock me down with one blow.”
“I’m not going to fight you, man,” said Andrew, standing up. “Just calm down and let’s get along.”
“Get along with this!” yelled Anthony, punching Andrew in the face. “How do you like that? Not so tough now, are you?”
Andrew just grinned, and calmly asked, “Was that supposed to hurt?”
“Rats!” screamed Anthony in frustration, holding up his injured hand. “I hurt myself!”
“They say that punching someone in the face is the best way to hurt your hand,” chuckled Andrew. “I guess they were right.”
“I have a way that you two can test each other’s strength,” Carrie spoke up. “If you insist on competing, that is.”
“How’s that?” asked Anthony. “What do you have in mind?”
“An arm-wrestling match,” replied Carrie. “It seems a good way to test each other’s strength without hurting each other.”
“Sound good to me,” agreed Andrew. “Are you game, Anthony?”
“Very funny,” said Anthony. “But yeah, I’m ready.” He sat down opposite Andrew and put his arm on the table. “Let’s see what you’ve got.”
Andrew put his arm on the table too, and then they locked their hands together.
“Get ready,” said one of the other players. “And go!”
Anthony immediately exerted all his strength, trying to force Andrew’s arm down to the tabletop. It seemed to be working at first, but then Andrew slowly forced his arm back up. Seemingly without effort, Andrew forced Anthony’s arm down until it touched the tabletop.
“I win,” Andrew said. “Will your jealousy end now?”
“Just one moment,” Anthony said. “That was the hand I hurt when I punched you in the face. Let’s try with the other arms.”
“Okay,” agreed Andrew. “Good idea.”
So they switched arms, and locked their hands together again. Andrew took the offensive this time, forcing Anthony’s arm down towards the tabletop. Anthony struggled, trying to force his arm back up, but Andrew’s superior strength won out. His veins bulged out, and his face turned red, but Andrew still forced his arm down to the tabletop.
Andrew didn’t even appear winded as he said, “I win again. Is the competition over now?”
Anthony looked like he would explode in fury, and Andrew got ready in case he got punched again.
But then Anthony smiled, and said, “Sure man, I’m done. And welcome aboard.”
As the team laughed, and Anthony slapped Andrew on the back, the tension at the table vanished.
“Whew, I thought I was in trouble there for a moment,” said Andrew, shaking Anthony’s hand. “Thanks man.”
“You’re welcome,” Anthony replied. “Pleased to meet you too,” he said, holding out his hand to Carrie. “Are you Andrew’s girlfriend?”
“Yes, I am,” replied Carrie. “My name is Carrie,” she added, shaking Anthony’s hand.
“You’ll be a fine candidate to replace me next year,” Anthony said, turning back to Andrew. “I guess Coach wasn’t exaggerating about your strength. Sorry about how I was when we came in: that was just your unofficial initiation into the team.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Andrew assured him. “I wasn’t offended. It was a great way to test my strength against someone else.”
“Yes it was,” agreed Anthony. “It also looks like you will be an even bigger man here than at your high school. I held the record as the strongest man, with a 1000 pound one rep bench-press. But it is quite clear that you are much stronger.”
“Yah man,” Andrew agreed, smiling quietly. “I can bench 2000 pounds for a ten rep maximum.”
“I believe I’d like to see that,” said Anthony. “I’m sure everyone else would like to see it too, wouldn’t we boys?”
Everyone else agreed, so Anthony led the way to the parking lot, where Andrew’s car was parked.
“I guess your car is about 2000 pounds,” Anthony said. “Let’s see you lift that.”
“Okay,” agreed Andrew, “get ready.”
He squatted down, and lifted the car by the back bumper. Then he got both his hands balanced, and stood up with the car balanced on his 3-foot wide shoulders.
“How’s this,” Andrew asked, turning slowly to the team members. “Is that good enough?”
Anthony’s eyes were wide as he observed firsthand the true nature of Andrew’s strength.
“How about you press the car for the ten-rep maximum you were talking about,” he suggested finally. “That should be good enough.”
So Andrew started straightening his arms and the car moved up. Once his arms were straight, Andrew let the car down to his shoulders again. Then he repeated the process 9 more times. He really had to struggle to get the car up on the tenth rep. But looking over at the awestruck faces on the football team, it was worth it. Andrew slowly squatted down and set the car on the ground again.
Then he turned to Anthony and asked, “How was that?”
Anthony was amazed, and finally said, “That was awesome man!” He came over and shook Andrew’s hand vigorously. “You’re amazingly strong; it’s almost freaky!”
“Freaky enough for the next headline on the school paper,” said a voice from behind everyone. They all turned around to see the Editor for the School paper standing behind them. “I can see the headline now: ‘Future freshman benches car.’”
“Well, that’s very flattering,” agreed Andrew. “I have already had that kind of headline at my high school a few months ago. But that was unplanned; I was simply pulling the car out of the ditch.”
“Don’t be modest,” the Editor admonished Andrew. “No one I know could do that. I’m Ryan by the way.”
“Pleased to meet you Ryan,” said Andrew, shaking his hand. “I guess you’re right; not many people could do that. I’m just so used to doing it by now.”
“Maybe you should start some kind of community service,” suggested Carrie. “You could pull cars out of the ditch in the winter. You could even come up with a catchy name: AWAP perhaps.”
“What does that stand for?” asked Andrew.
“Andrew Winter Assistance Program,” replied Carrie.
“It seems a bit odd to name it after me,” said Andrew modestly.
“Don’t be so modest, man,” Anthony said. “You have to learn to take pride in your abilities. You’ve earned it. Besides, if you insist on being logical about this, community service would look good for your application.”
“I guess you’re right,” agreed Andrew. “Well, it was nice meeting you, but now I see my parents coming back.”
“Introduce us before you go,” suggested Ryan. “Maybe I could get a picture of the family for the school paper? I’ll send you a copy once it’s printed.”
“Okay,” agreed Andrew. “Just once, or my modesty will wear off and I will start showing off. And once I do that, I don’t stop.”
So he introduced the football team and Ryan to his parents, and then the picture was taken. Andrew flexed his 30-inch biceps and grinned.
“Now I have the pictures of you benching the car, and this will complete the article,” decided Ryan. “See you in March, man, for Open House.”
“See you,” said Andrew, shaking his hand again.
The football team said their goodbyes as well, and they exchanged handshakes and backslaps with Andrew. Then everyone parted ways.
“They love you,” said Carrie. “You’re a sports hero here too, and you haven’t even registered yet!”
“But I will register,” said Andrew. “After this reception, and signing the papers in Tony’s office, I am definitely coming here.”
“That’s good to hear that you’re committed,” said Mr. Malcolm. “It proves I made the right choice when I scouted you.”
“Thank you very much,” said Andrew.
“Well, it’s about time you caught the return flight to Toronto,” said Mr. Malcolm. “The next time you come will be March. Then the true strength tests will occur. It’s good that the team has accepted you. It will make things a lot easier.”
“I think it has something to do with his modesty,” Carrie said. “Everyone is having to get him to take pride in his accomplishments.”
“I’m just naturally shy and quiet,” said Andrew, "except when I get excited. Then I show off. But since it got me in here, I guess it wasn’t a bad thing after all.”
“It is not,” agreed Mr, Malcolm, as everyone got into the airbus, which was waiting in the parking lot. “Well, good luck Andrew, Ralph, and Connor. See you in March. I will send all the details when March gets closer.”
Everyone said goodbye to Mr. Malcolm and then waved as the bus took them away form Andrew’s future home.
“I’m very proud of you son,” Mr. Pearson said to Andrew. “Don’t let us down.”
“Don’t’ worry Dad, I won’t,” Andrew assured him. “I won’t.”
Andrew made a promise to himself right then and there that he would do everything he could to justify everyone’s faith in him.
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