Sunday, September 18, 2011


It is great that football season is back in swing this year.  Our family has really enjoyed it over the years. My parents were never into the sports much but always did their best to support me. My mother became addicted to the sport as she still calls me up and asks if I am watching the big game on TV. My dad was able to make it to the high school games some before he passed away.  I am always grateful for that.

I started playing football in the 5th grade for the McKinley Dolphins.  It was basically a YMCA league that the city broke down into school districts.  I remember Tim Tunin was the quarterback, Mark Guerkink was our center and I was the fullback. We all were Pittsburgh Steelers fans from the beginning. Even wore the letter jackets. We weren't that good basically because they broke our team up by city districts....we didn't have too many tough kids in our neighborhoods. Oh well it was fun.  The experience I remembered most: One game we didn't expect to win as we were playing one of the toughest teams in the division. (Later those guys became some of my best friends in high school.) We decided to play it hard ball and ran the ball up the middle.....over and over and over. 32 dive was the fullback getting the ball on the right of the guard. 31 dive was the fullback getting the ball on the left side of the guard. So the three friends, center, quarterback and fullback went about marching up the entire field calling 31, 32, 31, 32, 31, 32, 31 and so on. Until finally I was carrying all the defense on my back as they knew I was coming at them....they just couldn't stop me!

From there Central Jr High Cubs, grades 7, 8 and 9. It was pretty exciting to have all people at the games and we got to play at the high school in the big stadium on Thursday nights. Awesome fun. There were booster clubs and cheerleaders assigned to each player so our lockers were always decorated for spirit day. I think Kelley Tucker was my cheerleader, from then through high school. The experience I remembered most: It is actually so faint in my memory but I recall the first receiving touchdown I ever scored.....I believe it was a pass to the fullback on a dump route and I ended up catching it and having to smash through the defensive players to pound in the end was the cheers afterward and the adrenaline of running over the other players that had me hooked.

From there, High School ball. College High Wildcats was my freshman and sophomore years. Black and Gold jerseys made us look incredible. It was as close to Steelers as I would get. Lots of photos as I continued playing fullback and some defensive secondary. We had the crosstown rivals, the Sooner Spartans, green and gold. We called them the greenie weenies. Giant bonfires on Thursday nights before the big game.  I remember a huge statue of a Sooner that was set ablaze. An incredible time. The experience I remember most: It was during one of the practices. I was playing on the meat squad know the second string offensive team that ran the plays of that week's opponent for the first string defense to beat up on us. Hence the nick name: MEAT SQUAD. I had ran a drive play up the middle and ran into a brick wall of a of the named James Dennison. Biggest black dude I knew.  When I got up off the ground, my face mask had been push all the way in until it hit my nose.  I had a nasty cut on the bridge of my nose that started bleeding. After a few plays, mix that with sweat and it is running down my face and all over my jersey......I can still remember James looking at me and saying "Dang!"

My Junior year our high schools combined in our small town and we became the Bartlesville High School Bruins.  New friends, new players, Tougher division and oh yes, new school colors meant new uniforms. Royal blue, powder blue and white.  We played really bad, but as Coach Ripley said, "We sure looked good in those new powder blue uniforms." My senior year had its ups and downs especially since I cracked my foot in pre-season training. However it was always incredible to be part of a small town program where the entire town prepared for the game.  Remember Friday Night Lights? Same thing here. When a stadium holds something like 25K and the town is only 35K you know that football means something to the town. The Experience I remember most: Sad to say that one of the most memorable experiences I had was when the starting fullback (yes, it wasn't me) was injured and the coach decided to start the sophomore in front of me.  He hurt his leg in the first 5 minutes of the game but refused to put me in.  I hated him from then on....the coach that is.  I was so mad I was ranting and raving on the sidelines.  Finally coach put me I cared now! whatever! The play was a dive.  I didn't care. Doug Kiggins our QB, hey, you should be excited, he called your play...who cares.....I was so fuming mad I ran over the defense for 20 yards.....again another dive.....another 20-25 yards.....everybody was on fire in the stands...I didn't care.....I got the ball one more time and ran for about 30 yards before being brought down just in front of the goal line.  The radio broadcaster asked where in the world did this guy come from....from then on I was one of the main backs.

Then onto college where only a brief showing due to my knee injuries. Always loved the field but put my studies into architecture. Still have the practice jersey somewhere. Would have been on the same team as Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders. Oh well. The experience I remember most: Once I knew I couldn't play due to my knees and it was over was very disappointing to me.  I had received a scholarship which was converted into a "rehab scholarship". It paid for books, tuition and fees.  I felt lucky to still be in collage.....but still very sad as I knew it was all over. The thought of never putting on a set of pads again was heartbreaking.

After that it was many years before football came back into my life. Kids never thought they wanted to play ball because they heard me snap, crackle and pop every morning. My knees were always sore and my backed locked up often in the cold mornings. However one day the oldest two came home with a paper about playing flag football for a rec league. The oldest played Junior flag and the younger Pee Wee Flag.  I began my coaching career.  We had a great team and had lots of fun. My oldest son was coached by a former Navy Seal......Why, what a training......I soon followed suit! We were the Courthouse Cowboys.....yep, I know....about as far from the Steelers as you can possibly get. Oh well! The experience I remember most: These sections should really be for the kids. It is there glory days where you remember the day bigger than it actually was.  There were many good friends made on these fields and I was proud to coach some wonderful young men. This I will always miss.  Thanks to Gideon, Ricky, Alan, Marshall, David, Matt as well as all the others including some wonderful parents.

From there, after two years of Pee Wee, our young team moved up to the Dolphins, my oldest son's team.  He was ten, the only time I would end up getting to coach him. The age range was 8-10.  We were tough and dominated.  It was incredible fun. Three years of Junior....and oh yeah, I took over as league coordinator for 5 years....throw that into the mix. The experience I remember most: I loved making plays that the kids laughed at when I had to yell them out across the field.....Do you remember the Gooney Goo Goo? or the Red Dog One or Blue Devil? Maybe the Bloody Bucket trick play. There were many....they loved them all....because they worked!

Tackle football begins. Oldest son had a really terrible coach and he struggled, but he was a real team leader at quarterback. It was a shame that they didn't know what they were doing.  However we also found out that Courthouse was always going to be the underdogs. City division lines. Oh well! I began my years as a tackle coach, got handed our first shut out by a power team that the coaching team had been together for almost 30 years. Eye opening. Still we focus on fun and learning for the players.  An understanding of the game. Two years as the Jaguars with my second son before he moves onto the older division of rec ball. I stayed back to coach my third son in the younger division as I never got to coach him in any flag. He was small like the second son, small but fierce. A few more years at the younger tackle division and after that the older division.  13 years of coaching football for the rec league.  Lots of fun and certainly long days! A huge time commitment. Practice 3 to 4 times week, all day Saturday on the field.....and we watched NFL as a family on Sunday.  We had become a football family! One of our vacations we went to the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio.  $30 to get in to see the museum, but more like $300 to get out.....with 6 new favorite jerseys! The experience I remember most: It happened every game for thirteen maybe 130 times over my "coaching career" I got to take a knee at the beginning of the game and pray with my players.  Fine young men that still calls me coach when I see them to this day.....even though I have to look upwards to the sky to stare in their face for a few. Young men that I prayed would be safe on the field and would walk off proud of what they would or loose. God bless each and everyone of those players where ever they are these days.

The house is a bit more quiet these days as all the kids are gone.  Not some much fun watching football by yourself. (My wife is always working, cleaning, studying or something). The other Saturday it was raining and we asked ourselves if the little guys were still playing football out there......we would have been. I have seen many a friends on facebook sport their colors and have pictures taken at OSU or OU or high school games.  I miss being so far away from where I grew up so I can revisit the old times. Oh well!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cabin Camping

Sorry folks, it has been a while since I wrote.  Not like anyone is really reading any of these...  :(
My wife and I finally got the opportunity to break away for a weekend and just relax.  It was a much needed get-a-way! Labor Day weekend wasn't planned for laboring in our was planned for rest and relaxation and doing absolutely nothing.  And that is exactly what we did.  Little of nothing.  We decided to go camping but unfortunately it was a little late in the planning so we had to drive 6 hours away to get there. That's okay...I took all day Friday off work.

We got to the campground and it was a bit crowded but no worries.  We go into the cabin (very small one) and unpacked.  Then we needed to run to the store for all the groceries.  We didn't get the cabin we wanted so ours didn't have a grill.....we decided to just buy an electric George Forman and a skillet....really going to make it easy!

Friday night the rains began.  We decided to buy Subway sandwiches so we didn't have to cook so late as we were tired from the long drive.....good thing....rain would not have been an easy task to cook in. Little did we know that was the beginning of a long weekend of rain.  Good thing we had the cabin.  We did nothing and hung out in the cabin most of the time.   few walks in the woods on a trail....a few walks for poor Mavrick.

By the time Monday morning rolled around (still sprinkling) I decided that since I didn't have any meetings on Tuesday, we would stay one extra day.  The camp was nearly deserted by Monday afternoon and then the real rain began....all night long again.  Tuesday morning we packed the car in the sloshing puddles and downpour....then drove back home in rain all the was still relaxing.

Now the real test...can we keep the peace about us? Let's hope so even if it is just for a few days. Peace my friends!

Sketch of our cabin