It’s almost here, isn’t it? The fall sports season is that to which I refer today.
In 30 years covering sports 12 months a year in two states I have seen it all … or a whole bunch of it all at the very least.
There have been highlights and lowlights to be sure, but in the big picture this close association with athletes and the (mostly) admirable men and women who mentor, nurture and coach them has been abundantly positive.
I love Husker volleyball and have for years, ever since daughter Tiff (now in her 40s) was in junior high. It was my habit in those days to load Tiff and as many of her friends as our vehicle had seat belts, then trundle my one-day adolescent female horde to Lincoln for shopping and a meal at the eatery of their choice capped off by a Husker volleyball match.
This was a long-gone era when ticket availability was loose enough to permit such a thing. We did the same for an annual women’s basketball field trip to Nebraska, such was my gluttony for juvenile punishment.
Just kidding. Those were some of the most fun and rewarding days I experienced as a young dad. My fellow fathers thought I was daft to even attempt such a thing, but they were wrong. Very wrong. It was worth every bit of what little trouble was required of me for those field trips.
What it also did was accidentally make me a huge Husker volleyball fan. My passion for the team, which in my opinion is the program that shines brightest of all both today and over time at the university, dates to Steph Thater, Nikki Stricker, their teammates and every one of the amazing athletes who has competed since under the wise and learned tutelage of Terry Pettit and John Cooke.
I love football, too, of course. The Huskers of Coach Scott Frost have my full attention - yours too I bet - as this second year under his leadership begins. The difference between how last year’s squad competed at the beginning of the season and the charge with which they ended it holds forth ample reason for optimism.
Please don’t weigh them down, though, with the pressure of unrealistic expectations. The best kind of progress and growth, it seems to me after three decades observing from inside the lines, is that which builds over time, a brick at a time. The foundation under a program always seems more solid with that approach. Quick fix attempts in my experience are not the solid material upon which dynasties are constructed.
I appreciate golf and tennis for their aspects of individualism, but make no mistake; the word ‘team’ looms large there, too. What’s best about them from the perspective of this old man is that a kid who achieves some level of mastery in golf and tennis can still be playing either sport when he or she is 70, the awkward age at which I presently find myself.
Say for instance you have a leg off. No worries. Just find someone else with a missing leg, go play and have fun.
In summary, folks it’s time to get out there. The early part of the fall seasons are going to be a bit toasty, but hang in there. You will be well rewarded when the air has a hint of chill and the leaves are rustling.
Ole’ Mose says, “Ya oughta check it out.”