April Fool’s Day and My Coach Norm

April Fools Day. I don’t know where the custom originated, but there have been some elaborate pranks played in the name of this holiday if you can call it that.

The one that stands out in my mind is the one I played on my track coach Norm on April Fools Day 1991. I was on target to make the Barcelona Paralympic Team, turning in performances that were almost certain to get me selected.

We had an indoor roller workout that evening, an hour of solid pushing on the stationary training tool. After practice I told Norm I needed to talk to him. I told him that I had not been feeling well, had gone to the doctor, and I was pregnant. I told him I was keeping the baby and not going to pursue the Paralympics. My whole team was in on the gag so they went along with the story, feigning shock and surprise.

Norm completely blew his top. This usually level-headed, calm and rational guy was yelling at me about how I was blowing the biggest chance of my life, ruining my potential. You get the picture. I was amazed he wasn’t thinking what day it was, and I didn’t let on just yet. I gave him a hug and told him everything would be ok. It wasn’t until later that night when I called him at home, and said, “Norm, it’s Linda. April Fools!”

He couldn’t decide whether to be angry with me or whether to laugh at how well he’d been played. Lucky for me, his sense of humor came through!

I’ve never been a big April Fool’s prankster, I’m honestly not sure what inspired that one. But every year, we remembered. And we laughed.

I still think about that joke. I think about Norm, who has now been gone for ten years. I miss him, and I’m so grateful to have shared such a special silly moment with him.

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