Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Life

Friday Night Lights

Frankie Lewchuck

Frankie Lewchuck

I’ve always been drawn to losers. Especially as a sports fan. It’s somewhat pathological, but I feel more comfortable when my team is behind.

Back in 1997, I found myself following the season of a high school football team that had gotten really good at losing: The Tigers of Valley Head, Alabama.

The Tigers’ running back was a junior named Frankie Lewchuck. Number 44.

As part of our ongoing series, Teenage Diaries, I gave Frankie a tape recorder to keep a diary of his football season.

Football, Frankie said, had completely changed him. He was no longer seen as a loser. (Although the same couldn’t be said for the Valley Head Tigers.)

We started the Teenage Diaries series on NPR in 1996. So this year we’re celebrating our 20th birthday (!) In the coming months we’ll be revisiting some of those early stories, and bringing you new stories about where those teenagers are today. This week on the Radio Diaries Podcast, we bring you Frankie’s football diary, which he recorded at 17. In the next podcast, you can find out what happened to Frankie over the past 20 years.


Radio Diaries is part of Radiotopia from PRX, a collective of the best story-driven podcasts on the planet. This week’s episode is sponsored by Squarespace. Use the special offer code “DIARIES” to get 10% off your first purchase and start building your own website.

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