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STAY GOLD: THE OTTAWA UNIVERSITY LITERARY JOURNAL: Memoirs

This is the official website of the Ottawa University Literary Journal.

Author Biography, Daniel Coppock

Hi, I’m Dan. Thanks for stumbling across my section of the journal. Frankly, as a gamer, school was and never has been my friend. I came to attend Ottawa University as it felt like an obligation in my family to do the thing of college. How dare these adults tell me I need to complete assignments and put words on a boring word document just to receive a piece of paper that says I’ll be worth something in life as an employee. Anyways, I begrudgingly completed my studies and upon receiving my diploma have transformed into an upstanding citizen… who still spends most of his time playing video games. In short, I started writing my memoir because I had never written anything for me. This is my way of saying “screw you, society expectations!” and doing something educational because I wanted to do it. Hope you enjoy!

The Most Popular Nobody By Daniel Coppock

Introduction

If you are reading this, Hello! I assume you are probably someone I know. If I don’t know you, I would like to take the moment to thank you in advance for reading about some random guy. Foremost, I am writing this for me. I hope others can find enjoyment in my writing, but my intentions of writing this are somewhat selfish. I have always enjoyed writing but have never written anything for myself. As I start my writing, I am in Japan. I have been keeping a daily log or journal of everything that has happened during my trip. It has been more enjoyable to write than I would have originally thought. This has inspired me to sit down and start a short book. Also, one main thing running through my head is that my mother has always said she wants to write a book. She says this, but still has not even started. Maybe if I write something somewhat significant, she will be urged to start her own. I love you mom! With this being said, I hope you enjoy reading my story.

-Daniel Coppock 7/15/2019

Chapter 1: Football Blues?

It all started when I was born.

Ok, I’m already bored too. Let’s skip ahead.

August, 2011: High school football season had just started. I had always been a football player. I joined my first tackle football league when I was in elementary school and was obsessed ever since. This was followed by many flag football leagues in middle school until I could join the football team at the start of high school. I was definitely not the best when I first started in high school. I was going to Los Alamitos High School in Orange County, California, which was surprisingly prestigious for a public school. Being a 6 foot tall, 120 pound loser, I was not a starting player for the two years I went to school here. I always tried to improve and show that I could be the best, but it became disheartening when I realized no matter how hard I tried, the coaches would never look at me. 

For the first time in my life, I made the choice to quit football. Granted, I dropped off the team after the season had ended, but that’s not the point. I wanted to do something where I was looked at and appreciated. Show choir was the other part of my life at the time, so that became my focus for sophomore year. Life was looking up as I pursued something other than football. This remained for only a short time as my parents decided to move our family to Las Vegas because my mother was offered a big promotion. Shortly after hearing this news, we packed our things and took off. I guess show choir was not my future.

August, 2013: Junior year has started. You would think I had learned that I wasn’t meant to be a football player by now. Wrong. Here I am, at a new school, in a new city, in a new state making the same mistake I had made at my last school. This time was a little different though. Instead of splitting my focus between playing video games, show choir, and football, football was my only focus. There wasn’t a show choir at my new school, Durango High, and I recently had my first League of Legends account permanently suspended. So, I thought it a good time to almost completely stop playing video games for the time being to focus on football.

Finally, a high school coach who looked at me like I was worth something. The other players liked me and I had secured a starting position as a Y (slot) receiver. The next part is hard for me to talk about. Why is it hard to talk about? Well, I was finally a starting varsity player. For 8 whole plays. Of a scrimmage game. IT WASN’T EVEN A REAL GAME. My parents hadn’t even arrived at the field yet. What happened? I went to make a block on a run play, I got tripped up, and landed on an extended arm. POP! I fractured my right Medial Epicondyle. In dumb people words, I broke the growth plate in my right elbow. For the kids, my arm was big owie. I ran myself off the field and told my coach I was injured. This is when my parents first arrived to the game. “Why would you take yourself out of the game? Get back in there before you lose your starting spot!” My mom yelled at me.

What’s funny is, nobody thought my elbow was broken. When I took myself out, the school trainer examined my arm. I would try moving it but it would hurt like crazy. However, when he would move it, it didn’t hurt. He was convinced that it was a muscular injury. “Lots of stretching and you’ll be back on the field within a week”, he said. This man was OBVIOUSLY an intellectual. So, here I am stretching intensely all week thinking I have a small muscular injury. A week passes and the first actual game has started. I still can’t extend my arm to 180 degrees and there is still searing pain. I take my position on the field and am ready to play. First play, my elbow is wrapped so, being the nice guy he was, the cornerback covering me decided to start the play by punching my elbow. I get stopped up in pain, but for some reason, the quarterback still decided to throw the ball my way. Why? I’m obviously not open and not in position to catch the ball. The asshole cornerback jumped up and tipped the ball. Without thinking, I ran and reached for the ball. A quick bobble and it was mine! All I saw was green field in front of me. I was in the clear! This was my moment! I could see everyone in the stands jump up and cheer my name for being awesome and making the impossible catch followed by breaking away to the endzone! JK, the same asshole was faster than me and I was on the ground within 30 yards. Welp, I had my 5 seconds of fame. I would like to remind you that my elbow was still definitely broken. ANYWAYS, every play this guy decided to continue and work my elbow. Constantly punching, hitting, and obviously targeting the part of my body that would cause pain.

Somehow, I made it to halftime. At this point, I was limping in pain. Why was I limping? It wasn’t my legs that hurt. If you’re not aware of human anatomy, I will quickly educate you. The elbow is on the arm. The arm in connected to the shoulder. The shoulder is connected to the upper body. If you go down from the shoulders and the upper body, you get to the legs. So, if you think about it, the elbow and the legs are practically connected. If my elbow is in a lot of pain, my legs are obviously affected, right? Right. Back to the story.

I went to the coach and told him I couldn’t play anymore. I was in too much pain. Once again, my loving and amazing mother screamed at me from the stands “What are you doing?! Get yourself back in there and play! You will lose your starting spot!” Thanks Mom. Once again, the trainer evaluated my elbow and recommended that since I wasn’t any better from the previous week, I should go get physical therapy. Finally, the following week, my mom took me in to get professional physical therapy. Remember, it has been almost two whole weeks since my elbow originally snapped. Not even 15 minutes into therapy, my therapist says “I think this is broken. We should go next door and get this x-rayed”. Oh look, the x-ray shows a clean fracture. I was given a diagnosis of a minimum of 9 weeks in a sling to heal. High school football season lasts 10 weeks.

Now, I am in a new school, in a new city, in a new state, and I can’t even play football. Lesson finally learned: if you’re six feet tall and only weigh 120 pounds, you are probably not made for football.

Chapter 2: The Boring Stuff

Do people usually start with a preface about themselves in a memoir? If not, is it because people who write memoirs are typically famous so people know who the person actually is? If people do preface about themselves, wouldn’t that be in the introduction or the first chapter? I’m too cool for that so I’m doing it after the first chapter. It would never be because I completely forgot that there’s a possibility that people reading this don’t know anything about me. Yea, that couldn’t be it. So, let’s start from the beginning.

Hi, I’m Dan.

Good enough? No? Alright fine, have it your way. Some of the memoirs I’ve read talk about a hard or troublesome childhood. Hunger, not having a place to stay every night, and abusive parents are just some of the things many people have to face growing up. My childhood was sad. Not because of any of these things previously listed though. Mine was much worse. I was a dweeb.

To be honest, I never needed while growing up. I mean, maybe as much as a kid NEEDS something from the ice cream truck or as much as a kid NEEDS that new toy. My parents did everything in their power to make sure my siblings and I never went to sleep hungry and always had a roof above our heads. They even gave up many of their own freedoms and extracurriculars to make sure we had the money to live in good school districts. That is, until we moved to Vegas, but I’ll get to that later. Sorry, I don’t have a juicy sob story about my childhood.

While you were growing up, did your parents ever force you to do anything you didn’t want to do? Well, I faced that every day from the age of 4. Christmas 2001 came around and my parents made either the best or worst decision of my life. They decided to buy our family a Nintendo Gamecube. For those of you uncultured beasts who don’t know what a Gamecube is, it is truly one of the greatest gaming systems of all time. This was love at first sight for little Dan. This was the whole package: bright blue sky, field of flowers, midget Dan running with arms open and mouth gaping wide towards my new best friend. I had played some video games before, but this was different. For future reference, this was my first access to Super Smash Bros. From this day forward, all other activities were secondary. “Hey mom can I play on the gamecube for a bit?” I would ask.

“No, you don’t need to play video games right now. You should go outside and play or read or do something productive” my loving parents would reply. They limited me to a couple hours a day on average. How dare they.

Poor me. I had it rough.

Chapter 3: A New Chapter

I promise this is the last chapter of backstory before I get to the juicy stuff.

Going forward in time (again), we’re back to 16-year-old Dan and his broken elbow. I didn’t know what to do with all this extra time because I couldn’t play football. Then the perfect idea hit me: get back into League of Legends because that was a really productive use of your time beforehand. I started playing again and thus my future was solidified. For the next couple of months, I was a zombie waking up before school early enough to get a game in, a misfit in class always on the phone watching VODs to improve gaming performance, and a potato in the afternoons sitting in front of the desk “on the grind” (“on the grind” is what gamers say to trick their own brain into thinking they’re being productive when they’re literally just sitting around playing video games).

If you don’t know what Twitch.tv is, it’s only the most popular video game live streaming platform out there. As a gamer, I was on this constantly to watch video game speedruns or professional League of Legends players. Contrary to belief, you can get significantly better at a game by watching people who are good at it or by watching yourself and reviewing. I like to think of it like watching film for an actual sports game.

It was just a standard afternoon at first: regular school routine, walk home, sit myself in front of a computer, eventually get mad at a loss that obviously was one of my idiot teammate’s fault, and then hop on over to Twitch to find a League stream. If you know me at all, you know what happened on this “regular afternoon”. I open up Twitch and, on the homepage, as the featured stream, I see Super Smash Bros (SSB). On top of this, these guys weren’t just playing the game for fun. These guys were at a tournament and competing for money. This was exciting, but what really caught my eye was that this wasn’t just regular SSB either. I saw all the characters I knew and loved from Super Smash Bros Brawl (SSBB) but there was also Mewtwo and Roy from melee sitting there with the SSBB cast. These two characters were known to be in Super Smash Bros Melee (SSBM) but were taken out in the next instance of the game (Brawl) (I know there’s a lot of parentheses but bear with me). As a true intellectual, I knew I had to get my hands on this version of the game. With the help of the stream chat I was directed to the SSB Project Melee webpage and started my download. Someone in twitch chat also mentioned that I should go to a website called SmashBoards if I had any interest at all in going to tournaments or competing. My interest was piqued and I went fishing for something to do with Las Vegas. Lucky enough, I actually managed to find the Las Vegas SSB Facebook page on this super outdated website. From here, I started my competitive gaming career.

Anybody and everybody who has ever played SSB at home thinks they’re The Shit. “I’m the best player in my family” or “I’m the best in my friend’s group. I never lose” and sometimes “I just use Kirby and Down B. The rock is over powered!”. I used to take these words seriously, because I too, was the best in my family. However, going to tournaments is a completely different beast. Going into my first tournament, I thought I would be fine. I thought everyone would be pleasantly surprised at how amazing this newcomer “dansdaman” (this is my gamertag (a gamertag is what nerds call themselves on the internet because they’re too cool to use their real identity)) was at the game. Wrong. I couldn’t take a single game off anybody there. I was so bad that most of the guys didn’t even want to sit and play non-serious matches (otherwise known as “friendlies”) against me because I wasn’t worth their time. Time to go back home and practice by myself. I’ll prove everyone wrong two weeks from now at the next tournament!

Two weeks later…

“Don’t worry, I’ll prove everyone wrong at the next tournament!”

Two weeks later…

“I’m going to be the best soon enough! You’ll see!”

Two weeks later…

“Man, I was so close to taking that one! I’ll get you next time.”

Starting to see a trend here? Yes, I know. I was a noob. I know a lot of people in a competitive scene would have given up by this time. I constantly went to practice sessions and every tournament possible just to get better at this damn video game. This cycle continued for a total of 3 months. The grind didn’t stop, but neither did my loss streak. After 3 months of continual losses I sat down to play my first tournament set of the day. I knew that this would be the one. This would be the time I finally take a game. I had my monster energy drink on the table, plugged in my controller, picked my favorite character Roy, took a deep breath of warm and sweaty gamer venue air in, and then pushed the air out of my lungs. I was locked in. I had to show with my body that I was fully focused on the screen by having my controller held out in front of me while leaning forward as close to the CRT television as I could get while still being able to see the whole thing. With my butt in the chair, my body must have been at like a 15-degree angle. Who needs good posture when you’re an epic gamer? The game announcer yelled out “Readyyyyy… GO!” and we were off.

I swear my character, Roy, looked so elegant swinging his fire sword during the match. It was probably the most beautiful fire sword there ever was. You know, because it’s probably the only fire sword. The way I moved the character though… I might as well have been a toddler playing with the controller in my mouth. Another loss.

On the bright side, I did get my first tournament win that night, but from losers bracket. SSB is a cruel game that takes way too much time to be good at. I just got lucky enough to play against someone newer than me that night, thus claiming my first victory.

From this day forward, if I ever heard someone say “Oh you’re good at smash? You need to see my Kirby”, my anime would kick in. Habitually I look down to hide the sinister smirk building itself across my face. I look up, but only enough to see my devilish eyebrows and shimmering blues. From my lips I would mutter “omae wa mou shindeiru” (in non-weeb this translates to “you are already dead”). The entire world would zoom in on me and beam a blood red from my intent to kill. Not one person has lived to tell their own fate after making this mistake.