WESPORT, NC — Paul Anderson, Head Coach of the North Carolina A&M Track and Field Team, knew his class of ’08 distance men would be pulling some sort of prank on April 1st. They had done so the past three years, each year outdoing themselves, all the while catching Coach Anderson off guard.
Last year, the class of ’08 involved the team doctor and leaked to the coach that their best runner had broken his leg, thus ending his season. Coach Anderson eventually realized what the date was and the joke was over, but not before the coach had almost soiled himself. So this year, Anderson was ready for anything.
“They weren’t going to get me this year,” said Anderson in a phone interview, “I was ready for everything.”
So when seniors Jeff Galey, Fred O’Toole, and Michael Randall entered Anderson’s office after an easy run, he wasn’t surprised to hear what had happened on the run earlier in the day.
“We went in and told him Ronnie had been hit by a car,” said O’Toole with a chuckle, referring to Ronald Bernard, another senior on the team. “But it was weird…coach didn’t seem too worried at all. He just picked up his coat and said, ‘Welp, let’s get to that hospital and see how he is then.'”
So, the coach and three of his seniors traveled to Our Lady of the Worthless Miracle, the students trying to hold back their laughter and the coach wondering how he could get them.
“Oh, I was thinking I was going to kick them off of the team and then tell them ‘April Fool’s!'” Said coach Anderson. “Then, we got to the hospital.”
There, they entered the room occupied by Ronald Bernard who, with IVs running in and out of his body and a heart rating monitor beeping on the second, appeared badly injured.
Coach Anderson kneeled bedside looking at the boy and looked to be on the verge of tears. The boys repressed their laughter ready to burst and yell, “April Fool’s!!!”
It was then, however, that the coach turned the table: “Ha ha!” He screamed. “I knew he was okay, I know what day it is, you little assholes didn’t get me! April Fool’s to you!!”
At first the boys looked shocked, appalled that they had been gotten. But then, they all broke out in laughter.
“Coach looked at us like we were all insane,” said Jeff Galey. “But I looked at him and I go, ‘Sorry Coach, but we got you again.’
“He looked back at us real confused and then looked at Ronnie. ‘We knew you wouldn’t fall for much,’ I kept going, ‘so we really turned it up a notch this year.’
“And Coach looks like he’s going to cry, ha.
“And I go, ‘he really did get hit by a car, he’s in critical condition!’
“Then Freddie, Mike, and I go ‘April Fools!’
“Man it was a good one!”
It was then that Ronald Bernard’s heart-rate monitor flat lined. He was pronounced dead on April 1st at 5:21 P.M.
Michael Randall offerd his impression of his dear friend Ronnie: “I mean the guy just loved April Fool’s Day, so you gotta be pumped that he went out after we got coach with the best prank ever!”