Archive for October, 2011

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

October 28, 2011

By: Rachel Wheeler
Assistant Athletic Trainer

If growing up in the infamous snow belt and on a great lake has taught me anything, it’s always be prepared for bad weather! I can’t count the number of times I’ve ended up experiencing all 4 seasons in one day…it’s honestly absurd. Rochester, NY is a wonderful city and I will always have a place in my heart for home, but when I think about the 10 month long winter, I have a harder time reminiscing fondly. I can recall all the mornings before school getting up early and running to the TV to see if my we had a snow day…it never happened. There would be 5 inches of ice accumulation and/or 4 feet of snow and the school district would be like, “Oh no big deal.”  You can’t even walk on the sidewalks or the road because it’s so snowy (not to mention at this point it’s still a blizzard and white out) but life goes on.

Then I started to look for colleges, and somewhere along the way my brain thought: “Since Rochester winters are clearly so great, let’s go some place even worse!” That’s when I ended up in Erie, PA…Dreary Erie as it’s also known as. Or little Chicago since the wind almost never stops! Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoyed my 4 years there, but the weather is honestly atrocious! It was like high school all over again when we’d get 4 feet of snow overnight and the city would pretend that wasn’t ridiculous.  I can’t get my car out of the 15 foot long driveway it’s stuck in, but don’t worry it’s definitely safe to drive around! I really do love driving in the snow; it’s like a new, fun challenge every time you’re out there. My favorite part is finding an empty parking lot, putting the car in neutral, pulling up the emergency brake, and cranking the wheel: thus the E-Brake Turn. That’s all hypothetical of course, I’ve never done that in my life…

The moral of this whole schpeel on wintery wonderfulness is the north (for the most part) knows how to battle a good blizzard when necessary. We have gargantuan snow plows on standby all day and night with lots of salt to de-ice the roads and rust your cars. Most of the neighborhood owns a sidewalk plow or snow blower or the most intense, ergonomically correct/back-pain-saving-shovel you’ve ever seen. And everyone is required from birth to know how to make a snowman, snow angel, and a great packed-ice snow ball that will inflict the most damage/pain possible.

In the south however, this is all a foreign language or concept. Not saying that there aren’t transplants from the north down here that know how to deal, but the vast majority of people are honestly terrified of snow! There is a threat of 0.5 inch accumulation and you would think a Category 5 Hurricane or F-5 Tornado is coming our way! Sleet or heavy wet snow starts falling and people are having panic attacks and breathing emergencies in their cars even when they’re 20 feet from their driveways! The first snowflake hits the ground and some crazy chemical in people’s brain goes, “Start slamming on your brakes, swerving erratically like you have a BAC of 2.3, and close your eyes while upping the speedometer to 73 mph all at the same time!”

That may be a slight exaggeration…but you get the point.

I really do love living in Virginia though. There are still four distinct seasons and the sun is actually out for than 3 months out of the year. I just never cease to be amazed how mind boggling yet endlessly entertaining everyone’s reactions are when the snow threats begin!

Just a flurry or two created this effect!

FYI this picture was taken in Oswego, NY a little over an hour from where I grew up…That’s what 12 feet of snow looks like!

Tough Mudder

October 25, 2011

By: Nathan Shearer
Head Wrestling Coach

Over the weekend a few friends and I took part in a challenge course located in the Wintergreen Ski resort here in Virginia. The competition was titled Tough Mudder. Signing up for this event six months prior was the easy thing to do. As the summer came to an end friends started circulating YouTube clips of different obstacles in the event. Names like: Death March, Chernobyl Jacuzzi, Electric Shock Therapy, Berlin Walls, Underwater Tunnel, and Kiss of Mud to name a few. The entire course projected itself ten miles into the ski resort and surrounding areas and totaled 27 obstacles. It was interesting watching online videos of people soaking themselves in homemade ice baths and building construction projects in their backyards to simulate events. We used the surrounding terrain and did our best to ready ourselves.

The Tough Mudder was no joke!

On race day we arrived at 9:00 am to a spectacular event. The business model was developed by former Harvard Business graduates and the course designed by a group of former British Special Forces members. The total number of participants exceeded 9,000 people. The registration line welcomed us to the event with branding our race number with permanent marker to our foreheads. Next, a tent waited for participants to have their heads shaved or trimmed into a mullet. This line was optional, but many took advantage of the free service. The following station provided free tattoos in exchange for a free entry to any future event. Hopefully no one took this offer, especially with the low entry cost. It was not the distance or obstacles that worried me about this race. I was hoping I did not sign up for an event that was barbaric in nature and without a real cause or sense of purpose. I did research the event, but began to think it was not all adding up. Thankfully all this was about to change.

Every 20 minutes a group of several hundred people started the race. An emcee diligently reminded the crowd of several key fundamentals. Most importantly, our actual completion time was irrelevant. They did not even record our finish time. Instead team work and camaraderie were the reasons we all were here. The siren fired and the chaos began. The rest of that afternoon was spent with hundreds of people working as a group and team to finish the course. As individuals completed climbing walls, shimmying through tunnels, and long inclined hikes their attention was turned to those behind them. As you slipped, fell, or struggled support was instantly provided by fellow tough mudders. At each obstacle large spectator groups cheered and encouraged everyone. It was a remarkable display of team building that made completing the event gave everyone a sense of pride.

At the end of the day things made more sense. First, the event was professionally constructed to require unity and teamwork to achieve completion. Second, Tough Mudder raised nearly $3 Million dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project. Lastly, crossing the finish line each person was handed a bright orange headband as they declared Monday is “wear your headband to work day”.

When Coaches Attack

October 21, 2011

Nate Jervey
Assistant Sports Information Director

This Thursday, at 9:00 pm TruTV will be debuting a new series called “When Coaches Attack.” The premise is simple, footage of athletic coaches going ballistic on one another, their players and the media. Bobby Knight is slated to host the 30-minute program and provided blow-by-blow commentary of each incident caught on tape.

Psych!!

No, that is not happening, but given some recent incidents of coaches behaving badly some of the execs at TruTV may want to look into the possibilities of such a program. I am sure that many of you saw the fracas between Jim Schwartz of the Detroit Lions and Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday. For those who haven’t watch THIS.

Pretty despicable right? Sure, Harbaugh may have slapped Schwartz a little hard on the back during the postgame handshake, but Schwartz’s reaction was asinine. He looked like a Jack Russell Terrier nipping at a jogger’s heels as he chased Harbaugh up the tunnel trying to get into his face. While not overly violent or physical, Schwartz’s reaction provided a textbook definition of how not to diffuse a situation. All of that could have been resolved with a phone call Monday morning asking for an explanation. Simple as that. I get that Schwartz is a fiery guy – watch him on the sidelines some time, he is as exuberant a coach as there is in the NFL – but that does not excuse his actions. Furthermore, what has he done to his credibility with his players? The next time he is imploring his guys during a game to keep their composure and remain calm, where does his authority come from? “Right coach, like that time you kept yours and ran after Harbaugh?”

Coaches serve as mentors for their players and are supposed to set a good example, particularly the younger the participants get, and it seems that across all levels of sport, coaches are acting more and more like toddlers in the midst of a temper tantrum. A simple google search will yield plenty of videos, new releases, photos, you name it recounting the poor decision making of the adults charged with mentoring our youth.

Division III athletics and W&L is not immune to seeing this happen as well. I can remember a home game several years ago, when after a resounding win for the Generals, the opposing coach took exception to something that happened on the court and berated our head coach during the postgame handshake. I was always under the impression that the handshake was an opportunity portray a certain level of sportsmanship, not use its as a forum to air your grievances.

There was also a recent run-in with an opposing coach, who despite being notoriously surly, took his surliness to new heights recently and cemented himself in my personal pantheon of difficult coaches.

Who can forget this moment in Coaching Blowups

I feel that this deterioration of coaching tact, has often been overlooked as players running amok of the law and the NCAA seems to be on the rise. But, with a spike in questionable decision-making by amateur and professional athletes alike, isn’t there a greater need than ever for even-keeled coaches? We need more Mike Tomlins, Phil Jacksons and Joe Torres and fewer Bobby Knights, Jim Schwartzs and Jeff Van Gundys (remember him hanging on Alonzo Mourning’s leg during a Knicks-Heat brawl a few years back? If not, google that as well.)

Great Aunt Helen

October 18, 2011

By: Shana Levine
Associate Athletic Director

One of the great things about working on a college campus is the ebb and flow of the academic year.  Students come and go and Lexington goes from busy to serene multiple times a year.  However, the odd part of working on a college campus is that students seem to think that everyone gets the same amount of time off that students do.  I love it when students tell me to have a “great spring break” or “enjoy reading days” – I just smile and nod.   While smiling, I am thinking about the rude awakening they will have when they get to their real job and look at the vacation schedule and wonder why there is no spring break, Feb break or reading days listed.  They will be realizing they just get occasional days off, like Labor Day (unless you work at W&L), Memorial Day and Christmas Eve.

Well this year, I decided to  actually take advantage of the two reading days to finally check something off my “to-do” list that has been on there for about 3 years.  I took a road trip up to see my Great Aunt Helen.  She has amazing stories about growing and I realized that if I wanted to get them recorded, I better do it sooner than later as she will be 104 in January.  Yes, 104 years old and still as alert and sharp as ever.  Her biggest complaint is the amount of pain she has in her hands and fingers, which no longer allow her to make pie crusts from scratch (this is also extremely upsetting to the rest of us, especially my husband Clark – a huge pie fan).  She said she once tried making a pie using a store-bought crust and quickly determined it wasn’t worth wasting all that great fruit on such a bad pie.  Classic Aunt Helen.

My Great Aunt Helen and Brutus the Buckeye

Helen is still able to live at home on her 6 acres and watches more basketball than anyone I know.  She has had season tickets to the Ohio State women’s basketball team since they started selling them.  Seriously, not an exaggeration.  About four years ago, our whole family actually went to an OSU women’s basketball game to celebrate her 100th birthday.  The best part of the evening was the reporter that the local news station sent to interview her at halftime – I am sure they thought they would get a few lines about how great the game was, etc., etc.  But they didn’t know Helen.  As soon as the reporter asked if she was enjoying the game, she got very animated and started giving her opinion on the game plan; “they need to drive to the basket more! I don’t understand why they keep shooting from the outside when it’s clearly not their strength!” said Helen.  The reporter was clearly taken aback and not ready for that response.  Maybe they should’ve sent a sports reporter.

At family gatherings, I had heard Aunt Helen tell her stories of growing up and her experiences, but did not really grasp what she was saying and what she had done until I started teaching my Women in Sport class here at W&L.  I knew Helen played high school and semi-professional basketball, but did not realize the time frame of it all until recently.  As a high school and college student-athlete with all sorts of opportunity to participate in sports, I rarely gave thought to how it might have been for women in generations prior.  Once I learned of all the limitations and how the large number of opportunities for women really just happened in my lifetime, I was even more motivated to get some of Aunt Helen’s stories while she was still well enough to do so.

So I took reading days to drive up to Radnor, Ohio (just north of Columbus) and sit down with her and record our conversation – it was well worth it.  One of the first things she talked about was playing in high school for both Fairfield (3 years) and Columbiana High Schools (1 year).  As a senior guard for the Columbiana team, she led the team to the 1926 state finals – unfortunately her team lost in the finals by 2 points.  However, she was named tournament MVP at a time when she was not permitted to go over half court.  The amazing part was hearing the details and seeing photos of her and her teammates in bloomer outfits – they traveled to the state finals in Ford Model Ts in February.  And she is sure to point out that this is well before interstates and before cars had heat!  As we looked back at old photos, she commented, “I still don’t know how we played in those ridiculous outfits – how miserable!”

After high school, Helen attended Mount Union College for two years before the great depression forced her back home to work.  While at Mount Union she played field hockey because they didn’t offer women’s basketball.  Helen said, “it was better to do something competitive rather than just sit around.”  Once back in Columbiana, OH she had an offer to play semi-professional basketball with the Youngstown Comets, which she jumped at.  Helen still says that she loves anything that gets her competitive juices flowing.  So, here she was playing professional sports at a time when women were not permitted to work once they were married – incredible.  So Helen played for two years and then, as she puts, was finally “talked into getting married.”  But Helen just takes it all in stride and doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.  As we were wrapping up, she noted, “I don’t understand why everyone always wants to talk about how old I am.  It’s really not all that interesting to me at all.”

Life on the road

October 14, 2011

By: Brandon Uhl
Head Men’s Track & Field Coach

As a cross country and track & field coach, I travel most every weekend, and I enjoy that aspect of coaching. The opportunity to see some new places and revisit the old is welcome. However, in addition to the travel I have as a coach, I have my 40 min commute to campus and my 40 min commute back home almost every day of the week.

Some ask me, why I don’t move closer. Well, that’s a great question. The reason, I live where I live is for my wife and our funny farm of animals (4 dogs and 2 cats). My wife teaches south of where we live at Roanoke College. Therefore, she has a 20 min. commute and I have the 40 min. commute. What kind of deal is that? 🙂 We also live where we live for the health and well-being of two of our dogs that are bigger. They have invisible fencing around our 2 acres of land and it allows them to stay outside and dig holes all over the yard.

Well, getting back to my life on the road. I really don’t mind the daily commute. It’s amazing how used to driving you get. I turn on ESPN radio or rock out to some classic rock songs and before you know it, I’m at campus or home. The time when it gets to be annoying is when there is an accident on I-81 and you can’t get off to a back road.

The tractor trailer traffic is crazy on the intestate and the way some of them drive makes you wonder how they have the job. To make matters worse, if you’re traveling south on a Friday of home Saturday Virginia Tech football game, it’s almost bumper to bumper. I use to like VT tech when I lived up north, but now when I see all those vehicles with the flags and stickers on them while trying to get home, I get annoyed. I suppose it’s that way around Happy Valley for Penn State football games, and that’s the team I have always rooted for.

Life on the road has its moments, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else to be able to do what I do here at W&L.

How sports can help

October 11, 2011

By: Rachel Buck
Sports Information Assistant

A challenge was issued to me, trying to make this blogBrewers-free despite their presence in the MLB playoffs this season. All I will say is that the only reason the Crew dropped yesterday’s game was so they can win the pennant at home, I mean, doesn’t the champagne/Miller High Life taste so much sweeter in your own clubhouse?

Alright, those of you who have stuck through the Brewers talk, here will be the last mention, serving as the inspiration for my blog this week. Before last night’s Brewers/Cardinals game, the Kilar family from Whitewater had the special honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

No, they didn’t win a contest and they aren’t the neighbors of owner Mark Attanasio. Last year, Treyton Kilar, the son of Mike and Mary Kilar, was tragically killed by a drunk driver just one month short of his seventh birthday. You can read the full story here, but basically the kid was a huge Brewers fan, especially of Prince Fielder, and it was fitting that Prince was the one who caught the pitch.

It always amazes me how sports can be used as a tool not only to deal with grief, but also celebrate individuals who are less fortunate than the players that take to the field.

Is here a better cause for W&L Athletics than the Special Olympics?

For example, the NCAA Division III SAAC announced a partnership with Special Olympics over the summer. Several athletic teams at W&L have jumped on the opportunity to work with SO, including women’s soccer and football, and many additional opportunities are in the works.

The feedback from the “General for a Day” campaign has been tremendous, and I can personally say that there is no feeling quite like working with the Special Olympics and its athletes.

My passion for the organization started in high school, where I was an active volunteer for regional and state events hosted in my hometown. It was especially inspiring because my high school Spanish teacher, Señora Knott, had a daughter who participated. Kate was a manager for our women’s basketball team, and was a constant inspiration to have working with the team. Kate traveled with the team, attended every practice and we always did our best to make sure she was included in team dinners and other outings.

But it was when Kate was on the court before/after practices and participating with her Special Olympics teammates (she loved basketball, bowling and swimming) that I learned the most from her.

My parents raised me with humility. Be thankful for what you have, and help those who have not been as fortunate as you. While I definitely brushed that off in my younger years, as I have grown older (and a bit wiser) I now fully understand what they taught me and how much it really means.

When I think back to high school, while not everyday was sunshine and rainbows with Kate (she had a habit of locking herself in a bathroom stall when she was upset), she did help me appreciate what I was born with and how I shouldn’t take it for granted.

Watching her shoot hoops before practice with the team cheering her on was always a great pick-up after a long day at school, especially when she hammed it up, running up and down the court while trying to show off her dribbling skills.

The most exciting time of the year for Kate was the regional bowling tournament, held at Lincoln Lanes in my hometown of Merrill, Wisc., I helped with the tournament every year, and Kate was always excited when I showed up and I could meet all of her friends.

An amazing group of athletes, those kids (and adults) always made me envious because they seemed to be able to grasp a concept that, at that time, I didn’t understand: how to live in the moment.  They seemed to have everything, always smiling, always happy, totally oblivious to the outside world and what they may be saying about them or how they look at them. They were just comfortable being themselves, and enjoying whatever was happening around them at that moment in time.

In a society where so many of us feel constantly judged and worried about how we appear to others it was refreshing to see a group of people who were just happy to be themselves. Talk about a powerful lesson.

And although I’m leaving W&L for a position at George Mason University at the end of October, I am excited to see how the athletic department at W&L continues to grow and develop the partnership. It is a great opportunity not only for the students, student-athletes, faculty and staff on campus to become involved, but also a chance for the surrounding Rockbridge County community to support its neighbors and a wonderful organization.

Teaching Coaches

October 7, 2011

By: Jane Beall
Assistant Field Hockey Coach

A Division III assistant coach must wear many hats.  In a day’s work, I may play the role of  counselor,  caterer,  cheerleader, referee,  travel agent (for the younger readers, a travel agent was like a human Expedia),  secretary,  graphic designer, blogger over at GFH, and so on.  At the core of what I do, though, and the reason I do all of this, is my role as a teacher.  I think that what I do is fundamentally about teaching. The teacher I’m gradually becoming on the field is heavily influenced by the teachers I have had in various classrooms throughout my life.

This could have been from that awful day

Take Juanita Coleman, my junior kindergarten teacher.  Mrs. Coleman was the calmest, kindest woman and all of her students were smitten with her.  She had a lap like a lazy boy chair and she would let us climb all over her during story time.  She actually lived nearby and my sister and I would make my mom honk the horn every time we drove by her house. I dressed myself every day and wouldn’t let my mother brush my hair, so the only thing distinguishing me from a feral child was shoes, and yet, Mrs. Coleman was as kind and patient with me as she was with anyone else.  One day, my skirt fell down when I stood up, and I cried for an hour until my parents brought me a new outfit.  Mrs. Coleman comforted me, attempting to convince me that no one had seen (even though I was in front of the class when it happened, and even at five, I knew that they had).  Soon enough, I had a new skirt on and was playing with my friends.  Mrs. Coleman passed away years ago, but we still honk the horn when we go by her house.  From her, I learned that sometimes, being a good teacher is about being kind when it’s all going to hell and your skirt is falling down in front of everyone.

Dr. P coached us to our school's first team state championship!

From Nancy Parrish, my high school creative writing teacher, I learned that a good teacher is one who can create a safe environment in which to take risks.  I always enjoyed writing, but sharing that writing aloud was another story.  My class with Dr. Parrish was a Breakfast Club of sorts, attracting kids from all kinds of cliques with all kinds of personalities.  It could have been a disaster of teenaged proportions.  But Dr. Parrish set a tone of respect that allowed all of us to be ourselves, to try new things and to collaborate.  I was deathly afraid of reading aloud, but one day Dr. Parrish brought in her acoustic guitar and sang a song she wrote herself.  I knew her pretty well, and I was pretty confident that was not easy for her to do.  Seeing her take a risk like that in front of a bunch of usually judgmental teenagers was deeply impressive, and it sent the signal that her classroom was not a place for pretentions.  It was a place for challenging yourself, your classmates, and becoming better writers.  And you know what – it was an awesome song.

In college, I took so many of Suzanne Keen’s English classes that I think I technically minored in Keen.  The woman’s 8 a.m. spring term class always has a double-digit waitlist, which is practically unheard of.  One of the things that makes her such a good teacher is how she addresses her students.  She called us colleagues and treated us like partners in her class.  I could read every book in Leyburn and I wouldn’t be any closer to being Dr. Keen’s peer – she is in the stratosphere of academia – but the fact that she always expected us to act like scholars made us strive to be scholars.  We did the reading and attended every class because we felt like stakeholders in our education.  She made it matter to us.  A good teacher makes it matter.

I am lucky that I still have teachers to learn from all around me.  My grandmother, mother, and aunt are retired teachers, and my sister is in her fourth year.  Wendy, my head coach, is a consummate teacher, and there hasn’t been a day on the job I haven’t learned something.  So in the end, I guess this post is just a really long thank you to the teachers I have had.  Thank you, coaches!

Life will never be the same

October 4, 2011

By: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director

Parker Burke Laubscher

Well, there are so many topics that I could write about this week, there’s really only one topic that has dominated my existence over the last two and a half weeks.  As you may have read at the end of Nate’s blog entry on September 20, my wife Mindy gave birth to our son Parker Burke Laubscher on Sunday, September 18.  There are few events in life that are more significant than the birth of a child and so I figured this blog entry should revolve around how my life has changed over the past several weeks.  Buckle yourself in because this is going to be a novel. 🙂

Parker was due on September 25 and we figured that he would probably arrive later than that because we were told that first children usually arrive late.  However, we were hoping he would come early since we had already waited so long to meet him and we had so many friends who were delivering weeks early.  We chose not to learn of the baby’s sex, so wondering if we were going to have a son or daughter began to dominate our conversations and exasperate the waiting process (though I would still not find out the sex if we had a second baby).

Knowing that Parker was going to arrive at probably the most inopportune time of the year, I looked at the football schedule and saw a plethora of home games dotting the schedule through September and early October.   A little panic ensued when I considered that he could decide to arrive on a Friday evening or Saturday afternoon while working one of those games.  The lone road game in the first five weeks was a very long trip to Centre College in Danville, Ky.  I actually never minded the Centre trip (not nearly as much as Sewanee), but seeing that the game was just one week prior to Parker’s due date, I was more than happy to make that contest the fifth football game that I have missed in 14 years.  I figured that missing the game would be more of a formality than anything else since it was a full week before the due date, but why chance it and frankly, it would save me a 15-hour excursion on a weekend.  Plus, we had soccer, field hockey and volleyball all playing at home at the same time so I could work the field hockey game and make sure all the home events were covered.

I had imagined that Mindy would go into labor while working (she teaches 3rd grade near Charlottesville) and that I would be rushing frantically from Lexington to meet her at the hospital in Charlottesville.  I thought about what all of that would be like.  What labor and delivery would be like and what meeting our child would be like.  Nothing was as I expected – it was all so much better!

Our setup in the McLaughlin Suite on September 17

Days before the weekend of September 17-18, Mindy said that she would like to come to Lexington with me for the field hockey game.  Maybe she had a sixth sense or maybe it was the urge to buy the purse that she saw at Pappagallo the week before that guided her decision to be with me that day, but I was happy to hear she would accompany me and we figured out the best way to watch the Michigan State-Notre Dame football game following the field hockey game.  As you may know, Mindy is a Spartan and rarely ever misses a football or basketball game.  The field hockey game began at 2:00 and I knew it would be over just about the same time the Spartans and Irish would be kicking off.  We had the idea to watch it in the McLaughlin Suite at Wilson Field since I could finish my postgame responsibilities for the field hockey game in the comfort of the Wilson press box, which is far better than the press box at the Turf Field.

The hockey game went smooth and the Generals produced a 6-2 win over Frostburg State.  After checking the stats with the coaches, I joined Mindy at Wilson Field and finished my reporting.  By this point, MSU was already laying an egg and Mindy was a bit uncomfortable.  Not because of the result, but because “something” was not quite normal.  Sometime between 5-6 PM and around the third quarter, she turned to me and said “something is different”.  She wasn’t entirely sure, but the normal Braxton Hicks contractions that she had been having for weeks had started to come in regular intervals starting around 1:30 that afternoon.  She held off telling me until all my work was done.  I played it pretty cool by breaking out some leftover oreo cookies from the previous week’s football game and telling her that Michigan State still had time for a comeback, but inside I was about to freak out with excitement.  I knew she didn’t want to have a false alarm and feel bad about it after the fact, so we didn’t make a deal out of it all and finished watching the Spartans’ 31-13 loss.

As we drove back home to Waynesboro (about a 45-minute drive from Lexington), the contractions grew stronger and Mindy started using the breathing exercises we learned from six weeks of childbirth classes.  We arrived home a little before 8 PM and, while Mindy went straight for the couch, I couldn’t wait to check my laptop for the score of the football game that had begun at 7:30.

All was good once I saw the Generals were up 14-0 in the first quarter, but just like the contractions, the game got worse from there.  You can imagine the stress of seeing a game slip away while your wife says “I think our baby will be born on September 18” as the 11:00 hour approached.  I wrote up the loss, contacted a few people from the ODAC and W&L that would need to know I was going to be out of touch for a few days, finished my reporting to the conference and we moved to the bed for a little more comfort while watching the Stanford-Arizona football game.  A call to the doctor and a short walk around the neighborhood calmed our nerves more than the Cardinal’s blowout win over the Wildcats, and we decided to leave for the 35-minute trip to the hospital around 2 AM.

Just as receiving word that she was in labor was not as I had imagined, the drive was also different.  It was a middle of the night jaunt with little traffic and a minor detour that I never saw coming.  About five minutes into the trip and just one exit later, Mindy realized that the same purse she had just bought that afternoon was still sitting in the kitchen.  Thinking we would need her ID, we doubled back to retrieve it.  We instantly realized that it would make for a good story and shrugged it off since we were pretty sure the baby would not be born in the next hour anyway.

Aside from the detour, the trip went pretty well.  Mindy’s mom met us in front of the hospital around 2:45 and they even let me leave the car parked in front because nothing freaks anyone out more than a pregnant woman in labor.  Even though it takes like 24 hours for anything to happen, people always assume that baby is coming ASAP!

I hate these balls

After a few minutes hooked up to the monitors, the nurses confirmed that Mindy was in labor and the baby was coming sometime in the immediate future.  It was a relief to both of us and moving to the delivery room was actually quite comforting.  We walked around for a bit, she rolled on one of those dang balls that I hate (just a stupid thing, I know) and before we knew it, she was 5 centimeters dilated at like 5:30 AM.  Time for the greatest invention known to man, the epidural.

Mindy was a champ through everything.  She never screamed or raised her voice once and, true to her promise, she never said “you did this to me”.  Once the epidural was administered (by a British woman with the greatest sense of humor), Mindy crawled into bed and began to laugh, joke and make fun of everyone in the room (Mindy also has a terrific sense of humor).  It was bliss.  Aside from the fact that I had been up since 6:30 AM the previous day and was ready to fall over, I had almost forgot the significance of what was going to occur at some point in the next several hours.

I started polling the nurses and doctors on such things as the delivery time and birth weight (I really just wanted to know how much longer it was going to be and who better to con for that info than the nurses and doctors), and began logging everything into my blackberry, which was also blowing up from all the people I was texting with updates to help pass the down time.  The guesses all seemed to be in the 11 AM – 1 PM range so I figured we didn’t have much longer to wait.  My prediction was 12:28 and Mindy had 1:23 so we sort of split the difference.

Parker arrived at 12:50 pm on September 18

As noon approached and not long after the doctor said Mindy was at 10 centimeters, I started to get a little weak in the knees.  I guess the gravity of it all sort of hit me at that moment, but at least the tears hadn’t started yet.  At noon the doctor came back in the room and it was go time.  I’ll spare a lot of the details at this point, but what I can tell you is that Mindy was crazy good at this and pushed for only 50 minutes.  The nurses asked me if I was alright to which I could only reply “yeah, sorry, I’m just a little emotional” while wiping away tears and soon a head appeared.  The cord was around his neck so I missed the opportunity to cutting it myself, but I happily deferred to our wonderful doctor who delivered him at 12:50 pm.  My job was to tell Mindy what we had and I will never forget the first moment I saw what makes a boy and boy.  Telling Mindy was the best part and then my job switched from coach to photographer, documenting everything I possibly could.  Parker weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces and measured 20 ¾ inches.  Though I was exhausted, the excitement of seeing our son carried me for another 10 hours with just a 45 minute nap while they cleaned him.  The final tally?  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 hours upright with just that one nap.  And, it was still so much better than I could have ever imagined.

Chillin at the hospital

Over the last two weeks and change, I’ve proceeded to learn so much about children and especially Parker.  I’ve already sort of learned what makes him happy and more importantly, what does not.  I’ve learned when he needs a diaper change, when he needs a nap, when he needs to eat and when he needs to burp.  Everything else at this point is pretty much superfluous.  At two weeks old, he really doesn’t care about much else and I’m loving every minute of it.

He’s the best boy.  He rarely gets upset and there’s always a good reason when he is.  He loves hearing me make mouth noises like the clicking of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and of course the motorboat.  He likes to be rocked in the morning while mama gets a little extra sleep after a couple of feedings throughout the night and he hates to be swaddled with his arms tucked in.  He’ll always find a way to get them out (probably gets that from Dad who hates to have the sheet tucked in because it is too restrictive for his feet).

People are amazed when I say that I get a full 5-6 hours of sleep each night and that the crying (or lack thereof) hasn’t gotten to me at all.  I’m sure there will be times when he will scream bloody murder for one reason or another, but we haven’t seen it yet.  I guess the most challenging thing has been trying to keep him from peeing when I change him.  The first time I emerged from a diaper change with a warm chest was a little surprising but I’m starting to get wise to his game.  Never leave a boy uncovered!

I’m already sure that life will never be the same.  I doubt that we’ll change who we are much.  Sports will still be a main focus in our lives and we’ll still like the same things.  It’s simply the perspective that’s different.  That much is already evident and I so glad that it is because I’m ready for the ride of my life!