Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Blessing of Volleyball

Whoa. It's been much longer than I thought it would have been since I last posted. I'm sorry my loyal (heh) followers. From the minute I wrote that last one, I knew I wanted to write something talking about the blessings I've received in my life.

Some of you know how hard that last one was for me to write. Why? Well, I generally don't want to burden others with my problems. They feel so insignificant compared to what others face. However, since so many on the internet display the good, I wanted to add the bad and be honest.

I've lived an incredibly charmed life. I know this. I try desperately to look at my life and my experiences through as objective of a lens as I can. We all know that's not terribly reliable, but I do try to look at my life somewhat objectively.

I'm also very hard on myself as many of you know. It's not worth spending a lot of time on, but nevertheless, looking at myself objectively isn't that easy.

So, another part of the reason that I've been SUPER delayed in writing this is because of volleyball season. High school season is absolutely nuts and constant. I love it, but it's a very busy time of year, and when home, I wanted to spend time with Keya and Everett.

My intent was to write an entry about the blessings in my life. The words to talk about the array of blessings in my life didn't quite come to me. I don't know why. Probably because as much as I hate burdening people with my problems, I'm also not crazy about talking about this type of... bragging? I don't really like it.

However, as I've been racking my brain to try and think about what the hell to write here, I kept coming back to the thread that runs throughout all of the things that are great in my life is one thing....


See, I've mentioned this before. As I look at the best things in my life, I can almost always trace them back to volleyball, though sometimes it's at best tenuous.

I discovered volleyball as a competitive men's sport in fall of 1996, when I was supposed to be watching a debate meet at Boulder High School. I couldn't find any of the rooms where debate was happening, but I stumbled backwards into a boy's volleyball match. I was hooked.

Thanks to boy's volleyball, I got to compete twice in the state tournament, and coach in it once. Those are experiences I hope to help my high school teams have soon.

I got to meet some of my closest friends through volleyball, both coaching and playing. I'm so grateful for the friends I've made through volleyball.

As I sit now, here in Lincoln, Nebraska, I think about the more fundamental things that I owe to volleyball.

In 2011, volleyball brought me from Colorado to Nebraska. That first summer living here in Nebraska took me to UNK for volleyball camps for the third straight summer. That's where I met Markeya. Now, this post is too short for me to talk about that at length, especially our courtship, but that's a huge gift I owe to volleyball.

Obviously, Everett is yet another blessing I owe to volleyball since he is a result of this relationship. Again, I cannot, in the space I expect to use here, talk appropriately about the blessing that he is.

Volleyball brought me the club coaching job I love so much. Spending time in the gym with so many people who are so committed to and passionate about the sport I love so much is rejuvenating and exciting.

Volleyball brought me a couple of wonderful teaching jobs. I had six full years at Dorchester that, until the very end, were fantastic. After that went south, I found Weeping Water, which is a wonderful place that I never would've imagined I'd end up. We're in the very beginning of this adventure, so I can't speak much to it, but I'm thrilled to be part of the Weeping Water team.

I could go, point-by-point, through quite a few more blessings that I've had thanks to volleyball. I thought it'd make more sense to focus on the big ones. If you'd have told 16-year-old Ty that volleyball would become one of the biggest driving forces in my life, I'd have told you that you were crazy, but here we are and (almost) 39-year-old Ty can't count all the ways he's blessed, but he can count one thing to which he owes many of those ways.


It's kinda weird, but it's really awesome.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Worst Summer Ever

I'm sorry it's taken so long to get to this post. Frankly, I've been working to find something to post about for awhile. I wanted to post about change, but I couldn't quite pull together a post. Maybe it's coming. However, this one's come to the fore lately.

I don't know that I've put all of this in the same place aside from my head. In fact, it's hard to type. It's hard to put down because I'm the kind of person who rarely puts his personal stuff out there. That's got a lot to do with the fact that I've never felt like my problems warranted others' time.

So moving on to heart of this. For the rest of this entry, understand that "summer" basically means spring and summer.

The Worst Summer Ever (yes, it warrants capitalization) started on the 7th of April when my dad called me while we were in Toronto to tell me that my uncle had completed suicide. As with anyone when they find out that this kind of a thing has happened, there were a series of emotions, none of them positive. While grief was the primary, there were so many others that I was unaccustomed to.

While the way that we came into is awful, the fact that we are now the caretakers of Noble's car, one of the MR2 Spyders from the movie 2 Fast 2 Furious. It's currently in the process of some serious bodywork due to the fact that movie studios should not build cars. It has its own Instagram, @mr2_fast_lnk.

We were in Toronto when we got the news about my uncle. We got back from Canada on the following Wednesday. That Friday I was told that I would no longer be the volleyball coach at Dorchester. I've already dealt with that one, so I'll leave it alone here, see previous posts for that information, but there were more developments there later in the summer.

I found a job in Weeping Water as, wait for it, head volleyball coach and fourth grade teacher. It meant our planned move was to a different place than we'd originally intended, but we found a house we loved and went under contract on May 20. We knew it when we bought it, but it's now August 30 and we still haven't moved. We knew it from the time we signed the contract, but it feels like FOREVER now. I took my parents to see the house when they were in town. I just wanted to stay. I can't wait.

Before finding that house, we learned that Blue Blood was closing. I found out because Keya saw a post from one of the local news stations on Twitter. We were investors. That was frustrating. There were a multitude of reasons that it went down the way it did, but it was a total surprise. Again, there's more going on there, but I won't, and kinda can't, go in to it here.

Shortly after that, I had to head to Naples, Florida to pick up the MR2. That trip was fine except for traffic in Atlanta that made what should've been a 12-ish hour drive from Cape Coral, Florida to Nashville, Tennessee more like 14 hours.

I don't remember where this fell, but I know it was before we put our house on the market because we were told that having Thunder in the house was probably not going to be conducive to selling. We couldn't find anyone who'd take him temporarily, and his quality of life had definitely fallen since Everett came along, so we made the decision to surrender him to the humane society. He's got a lot of life left and we wanted him to feel as loved as he had been before we started watching TV exclusively in the basement. The task fell to me while Keya was at work and Everett was at daycare. Even now I can feel that same catch in my throat thinking about it. I'm glad it was me, but the fact that it had to happen at all was terrible. We love that bunny, and we're just glad he's living a great life someplace else. I definitely felt like a failure as a pet owner.

One of the things we worried the most about what Everett's reaction. He was the only human in the house that Thunder regularly tolerated. If he'd have gotten upset it might've broken all three of us. However, while there seemed to be a recognition that something was different, it didn't really faze him.

We finally put our house on the market in late June and had a buyer in early July. The buyer agreed to close after we were scheduled to close on our house, which was wonderful. However, from there our buyer's been a huge pain. It's a long story, but when the inspection came back, which was pretty good, the buyer wanted EVERYTHING fixed, including things that don't need attention anywhere near immediately. On top of that, it wasn't good enough that I made some repairs. The buyer wanted a contractor to do all of that work, including caulking that was bid at $750 for a door, a window, and the garage doors. Just around the edge. 100 linear feet of caulk. We did not pay that much. It got to the point where the buyer's agent said that the offer would be pulled if we didn't give in. We didn't. The offer didn't get pulled. The buyer's agent also said to our agent at one point, "I don't know what kind of clients you have, but..." Like, what the hell lady? Your client is buying our house. I'm sorry we want to save money in this process.

The last Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday of July is coaches' clinic in Nebraska. I love going because I get to hear from high-level coaches and get my head wrapped around the new high school season. A lot of people asked my why I was wearing different colors and I told them. I make no secret that I felt like the reasons given to me as to why I was no longer the Dorchester volleyball coach were not true. Well, even though I had put it to bed and moved on, it came back. I talked to a buddy of mine at coaches' clinic about the Dorchester situation. By now I'd heard from a couple of coaches who'd seen Dorchester at summer camps and thought the didn't look near as good as they had the year before. I believe the exact words I used were, "Sounds like they're down this year. Their two best players are gone, one to Waverly and the other to Crete." In the interest of total honesty, I probably should've chose my words better and said two best hitters, but I didn't. I did however say that, as I had many times that day, I was rooting for Dorchester in every match but one, since Weeping Water plays Dorchester in early September. Well, that friend I was talking to had his assistant football coach there who is the nephew of one of the teachers at Dorchester. Well, he had left before I said how I'd be rooting for them the rest of the summer. That night, Keay got a Facebook Messenger message from the wife of my former AD whose nephew had been there. She lit into Keya (not me) for my immaturity and how multiple girls had gone to admin saying that if I was the volleyball coach at Dorchester, they wouldn't play. I had asked SPECIFICALLY if there had been a problem with my coaching or my interactions with the athletes. I had poked trying to find out why I was being "dismissed" as the head volleyball coach. Nope, it was commitment (again, see previous posts for the more on that). This certainly didn't seem like that was the case. In addition, before Keya was done reading the message, she'd been blocked. Let's say we were frustrated. This was after the first day of the coaches' clinic. I was sure I'd see my former co-worker the next day, the AD and husband of the texter, so I sent him a text saying I was sorry, I'd chosen my words poorly and I'd never say a negative thing about my former players, something else that was said in the now-infamous text. I also said I understood if he didn't want to talk to me. I didn't even get a reply. To be clear, I did not then and still do not harbor a grudge against Dorchester. However, it felt in my last couple years like I wasn't really welcome there any longer. I'm still not sure why, but I'm disappointed. I know I was never perfect, but I thought I did the best I could to help the kids I was working with succeed and still haven't heard anything to the contrary.

Oof. That last bit was long. I'm sorry about that. I was trying to keep this paragraphed by event. I swear to all that's holy I really don't have any particular bitterness or grudge toward Dorchester. I got a lot from that town. I'm grateful for what I learned and how I could grow there.

My family has been spectacular through this entire summer. Keya and Everett have been my consistent positive. I'm unbelievably blessed.

I also have to acknowledge that relative to some people's lives, this may rank as a relatively tame summer but for me, emotionally, it sucked. Like I've said, there are other parts of these things that I can't or won't post on here.

I am an incredibly blessed man. I will never lose sight of that. Once this move is over, I know life will relax a bit. I still enjoy my life and know I've been unbelievably fortunate. I'll be fine. I am fine. I just wanted to share this all with you.

Thanks again for reading. I know this has been kinda heavy lately, but this has what's been on my mind and heart. I got a lot of good to talk about, so I'll get back to that.

I'd love follows on other social platforms. I've never mentioned that here, but my twitter is @coach_ty6, and my instagram (ya know, not our car's) is @coachty6.

Take care!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Self-Actualization? No. Probably More Self-Realization

I'm a day late. I'm sorry. I only have one excuse... I forgot.

See, lately, we've been working on a bunch of grown-up shtuff around this house. The biggest one is buying and selling houses. I mentioned in a previous post what has facilitated this move, but basically we're moving from the southwest side of Lincoln to the east/southeast side. We also are (finally) working on will and end-of-life stuff. Once you have a kid, that gets real.

So, nevertheless, I'm a day late from where I want to be. I thought about waiting another week, but the subject matter for this week's blog has been bouncing around in my head for awhile. This is also one of the least formed ideas I've ever had before starting. There've been a ton of ideas that have floated around for this, so it's kind of setting out on the journey and see where it goes. Join me.

We're talking about self-realization, really. I'm sure that people come to their great, grand realizations about themselves much younger than 38. Or maybe they don't. I don't know. I haven't had in-depth conversations with many people about that.

I'm an extrovert. Most of you won't be surprised to find that out. I thrive and feel renewed spending time with people. Keya even knows that I'm kind of extreme to that end. I rarely miss an opportunity to spend time with family or friends, either at home or out. I'll do about anything.

When I lived in Colorado, the group of friends that we built up, the "Pint Night" crew if you will, would often make plans starting about 2 on a Saturday afternoon and a dozen of us would be at someone's house by 8 that evening, usually playing video games and drinking adult beverages, just having a great time. It was great for my extroversion.

Being an extrovert, however, does not mean that I don't love time alone. I do. It's just not recharging the way it is for me to be out with friends. When it comes to my family of origin, Dad and I are both very much extroverted where Jay and Mom are much more introverts. I know that's hard to believe, but when you see my mom and brother's studios, you'd understand.

Huh. Verb agreement is problematic in this piece. Honestly, don't care. Moving on.

Okay, so I've always known I'm an extrovert, but it was in the last couple of years before Everett came along that I realized how extreme it is. I would have company over every night. I like being the host. I'm fortunate to have a wife who feels the same. It also helps that we were the first of our closest friends to have kids and are willing to host... after Everett's asleep.

Okay, so anyway, I could probably mention the catalyst for this train of thought and thus this particular blog post. My 20th high school reunion was a couple weeks ago. The best part, far and away, was catching up with Kelsey and Todd, who I don't see as much as I'd like, and Alex and Angela. I could write a whole post on my friendship with Alex. I am so blessed to have been part of their wedding.

However, I found myself bouncing around like a damn hummingbird all night. While I did feel a little guilty leaving Keya while I flitted off to go talk to people who I, literally, might only see at the reunions. It was ridiculous, I'll admit, but I had a great time.

Why was this the catalyst for the blog? Well, I've often said I wasn't cool or popular in high school. I still stand by that I wasn't cool. I never have been. I never plan to be. I remember a conversation with another Todd in his kitchen where I told the story of when I thought I was cool, but the story ends with me crying. That's all of the story I remember. I don't know what I did that made me feel cool....

Anyway, I have to stop saying I wasn't popular. I know this sounds like a humble brag, I don't mean for it to be, I don't, but it definitely was something of an aha moment. Why have I never thought of myself as popular? Well, simply because pop culture tells us that cool and popular go hand-in-hand. I wasn't the stereotypical popular kid because I wasn't up-to-date on fashion and I was terrible at making the right joke or saying the right thing at the right time. However, in a class of 400 or so people, I made nice with about everybody. I was picked on by a couple kids, but I also avoided those who made my life painful.

So, from that point, a lot of my self-esteem has been based around having a LOT of friends. I've always felt like they were good friends. Yes, there are ancillary people who I hang with when I hang with friends (or see at Spikes at this point), but I feel like I do a better than okay job of having a fairly large circle of good friends. I don't buy the idea that by the time you're 40 you have, like, three friends. Of course, with the parents I grew up with, that was not the role modeling I saw.

The hardest realization in my life, which is not that recent, is that sometimes I'm a terrible friend. I won't go real deep, but two of my closest friends, Dave Harbaugh (DAVID DAY HARBAUGH THE EYE VEE!) and Alana (Gay) Gowin have been on the receiving end of my terrible friendship. Fortunately, they're also possibly the two most gracious people I know and I'm doing better about being a friend, even if it's from another time zone. I hope they both read this so that I can say I'm truly sorry for the times I took you for granted. Yes, I realize how impersonal this might be, but I'm also terrible with having real, meaningful conversations.

Finally (YAY!), this was brought up by this picture:

When I was little, I was a crier. Man was I a crier. The last time I remember crying as a kid was in sixth grade. It was because I thought I lost my lunch box. It had gotten knocked around the corner, not stolen/lost. I don't remember my friends shaming me for that, but I decided I shouldn't cry. Boys don't. Sadly, that mindset has held to this day. I still don't cry in front of people, even my wife.

I want to be better about this with my son. I want him to know that it's okay to cry. Sometimes we have to. I'm trying hard to be better about that.

Thanks for sticking this one out with me. I realize this was maybe even more stream-of-consciousness than usual. I appreciate those of you who are reading.

Take care.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Who do you think you are?

So, this post was inspired by church over the weekend. You can skip the next two paragraphs cause I promise this will go someplace political. Oops. Okay. Yeap. See many of you later. It's been real. Sunday's scripture was Galatians 3:26-28. It says:

  • In Christ, you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who are baptized in Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ.
Okay, bear with me. We go to a fairly liberal church. While it wasn't our pastor who preached this week, but a gal who did a great job who is going through seminary, a point she brought up is that is text likely predates Paul's letter to the church at Galatia. It's essentially saying that in choosing to worship Christ, we are all equals.

However, the sermon started simply with the pastor asking each of us to close our eyes and think about how we identify ourselves. What words do we use? I came up with tall, skinny, athletic, husband, father.

As the sermon went on, I realized three things I didn't think of: straight, white, male. This, my friends, is where this becomes a privilege conversation, and an unintentionally themed Pride Month post.

Why didn't I think of any of those three things? Well, because those are the privilege trifecta. Never have I had to worry that my race, gender, or orientation would have a detrimental impact on my station in life. I'm going to work backwards here.

Being male means that historically, my gender has had the "power" as it were. Now, I hope I've never been one to abuse this power, but I know I've been a damn moron at times in my life, so I apologize for my actions, not if people were hurt by them, but rather I apologize for actions that I took that offended people. I should've been better.

This particular categorization shows up in athletics. Picture this: high school basketball game, your kid's team is down. They can play with this team, but they've had a bit of a run in the last, say, five minutes, and the other team clearly has the upper hand. Coach calls timeout. When the players get to the sideline, the coach lays out what's happening technically, then says, "And most importantly, smile! Look like you're having fun out there."

Now, did that coach say that to a team of male or female basketball players. You having a hard time picturing a bunch of sweaty dudes being told to "smile" in the heat of battle? Yeah, me too. In fact, I'm guessing a lot of you would probably have words with the coach after the game if he'd said that to your son's team.

However, we'll yell that from the sidelines of a girls' sporting event. We might even expect the coach to say that. Why? Well, smiling does two things. 1) It helps instill confidence and overall positive feelings and 2) Makes a person more attractive (except for me in pictures, but that's a whole other post...). We don't say that to male athletes. I don't say that to female athletes. I tell the girls to get in there, shoulders back, chin up, and believe they can outplay their opponent.

In my chosen career, the payscales are probably more balanced than most, although I can't say that with certainty and I won't research it THANK YOU VERY MUCH! And while studies are all over the map on the gender pay gap, the reality is that it does exist, and it's something that needs to be fixed.

Next up: White. I'm white. You know why I never think of myself that way? Because white Europeans founded this country and ever since that day, many have decided that we're superior to other skin colors because...? Actually, I don't know. I don't know how you can look at any other person of any other skin color and decide that the thing, the thing that makes you better than them is the color of your flesh that you've worked SO HARD to achieve. Wait. No, actually, you haven't. To quote Lady Gaga, "You were born this way." (I love that song)

History books used in American schools have a very western-centric bias. Seems like people like Copernicus really helped push science forward. Except that was the 16th century. You know what we needed to even start to figure that out? Algebra which was invented in the 9th century by Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi in what is now Baghdad. Irrigation, a staple of western, especially American, agriculture, was first used by the Egyptians around 3100 BCE. Did western cultures invent and discover a lot of cool stuff? Yes! What is disproportionate to other parts of the world? NO!

Finally, straight. I am straight. I was terrible to some of the kids in my high school who were either brave enough to be out, or dealing with the pain of staying in the closet at a time when acceptance of LGBTQ+ was not near what it is now, which is terrible. I realize those people may not read this, but I'm deeply sorry for the actions that I took that caused pain. There is no excuse.

One of the refrains you here frequently during Pride Month is, "Why isn't there a straight pride month?" The answer to that, I think, is pretty simple. That's dumb. Being straight has been not only societally acceptable, but even expected, for nearly all of human history. We all know how recent steps toward equality for members of the LGBTQ+ community have been. The first steps. There are many more needed.

Why isn't there straight pride? Because we don't need to walk around declaring who we are. We haven't had to fight to have our love legally recognized and all the benefits that come along with that. While I don't, for a minute, think being LGBTQ+ is a choice, I frankly don't understand what difference it makes. Love as thou wilt. And don't come at me with the bathroom debate. That entire discussion is based on falsehood.

My takeaway from the pastor's sermon on Sunday was that the idea of equality, true equality, dates back to pre-biblical times. It also drives home the idea that Christianity is a faith based on love and loving equally. I've never been perfect, I never will be, but I'm trying to be better everyday. Church just got me thinking the other day.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Brutally Honest and Honestly Brutal

Alright y'all. You might remember my "The Audacity of Honesty" post from a couple of months back. Some might've noticed it has gone missing. I did that of my own volition. Both my administrators at my former school (which I will not name here, but y'all know) were getting a lot of people asking about it. They both also said I hadn't done anything wrong, but I didn't want to be one more thing on their plate, so I removed it.

This may be part one of a two-part post. We'll all find out at the end of this. It might just be a really long post. Either way, this post is going to catch you, my wonderful readers, up on the last month of my life, with parts about my family as well. It's been about as tough a two months as I've ever faced.

I also want to add that I'm glad it mostly happened to me, and that my wife and family could just be there when I needed them. That's been an unexpected blessing.

Okay, so back to square one. While we were in Toronto (jump back one post to see the adventures, as mundane as they might be, of traveling with a toddler who was a rockstar), I got the call that my uncle had completed suicide. Not a call you ever want to get. Obviously it rocked my, and our, whole world. He'd fought depression for years, but had insisted he'd never carry it to this point. I'd tried, unsuccessfully, a few times over the last couple of years to talk to him, but had always left a voicemail and never heard back. I felt terrible that I'd not tried harder to get ahold of him, but depression's a beast that doesn't afford logic.

Needless to say, that's been unbelievably difficult to deal with. My mom and aunt, Uncle Noble's sisters, have been handling everything with his estate and have been incredible. I know they've barely let us see how much they've gone through, but I'm so grateful for what they've done while going through what I can only imagine is just about hell. I pray daily for their strength in all situations I face.

Here we'll rehash my "Audacity of Honesty" post. As I mentioned, I was looking to find a new teaching gig. I wanted to be closer to my wife and son. I know it's beyond trite to say, "Having a kid changes your everything," but it does. That hour each day I spend in the car is an hour I don't get with my family. I felt the best move was to be honest with both my superintendent and principal. Now, my principal was one of my references, so he obviously knew. I felt, professionally, that I should let me super know as well.

Just before we left for Toronto, it was abundantly clear (oh hindsight...!) that Dorchester was my place to be. I'd thrown quite a few applications out there, and had only one 15-minute phone interview. I'd told both my administrators, and I'm confident this is a direct quote, "You're getting what you wanted, I'm staying! I'm ready to get after it. Fate's telling me I'll be here and I'm re-committed!"

Heh. HA! The... irony?... is really kind of hilarious now. When we got back from Toronto, I reserved my team a spot at the Colorado Buffs team camp. The next day, a Friday, I learned that the new Kindergarten teacher would be the assistant volleyball coach (I typed my initially but changed THAT!). When I approached the superintendent about it, he confirmed that (I saw it on Facebook) and said we needed to meet about it at 3:30. I had NO INKLING about what was coming.

Now, the next part of this can kind of sound like a bitter man, something that was pointed out by the community to administration when I published the original honesty post. I see how people would draw that conclusion. I do. In fact, I'd likely think the same thing. However, I'm going to say that I'm not bitter. I'm not. I don't have time for grudges and bitterness as a general rule. Also, that's something that has a detrimental effect on my mental health. I'm painfully optimistic most of the time. That's a choice.

When school got out that day, I walked do to my super's office like nothing was wrong. I strolled in expecting to lay out the next few years of the volleyball program. He said they'd decided to go a different direction with the volleyball program. I wasn't committed enough to the town (and maybe the school, I don't remember. I just remember thinking that telling me I wasn't committed to the town was ridiculous), as was evidenced by my job search.

First, WHAT?! I mean, he was right, I wasn't committed to the town. That school had kids whose address was in many different towns, and many not from a town at all. I was committed to the kids and everyone in that school. THAT was important to me.

Secondly, what about my teaching job? That's my livelihood and I was panicking about that. No, he said, teaching was safe. The principal was in charge of teacher's jobs, and every eval and walkthrough I'd ever had was positive.

I should add, this decision was made solely by the superintendent. The Activities Director, Principal, and School Board had no role in the decision. While the AD and Principal had been asked for some feedback, the decision was made without them, ultimately.

Did this have something to do with my coaching? The way I interacted with the athletes? I mean, I love coaching, I love volleyball, I want to make sure I wasn't doing something very wrong that no one had bothered to tell me about. Nope, he said, nothing to do with any of that. Just my commitment.

I was livid. I went to the weight room and probably lifted heavier than ever. It didn't make sense. I had no reason to disbelieve him, but it didn't feel right. Nevertheless, it appeared that I'd be working there for quite awhile longer, though in a slightly reduced capacity, so I had to find a way to get over it. It also felt like there was a bit of a "pushing me out" vibe, something reinforced by a couple conversations I had, via text, with other staffers over the subsequent weekend.

Well, back at school on Monday, it seemed like everything was fine. I settled and and thought, okay, this might suck, but started to look on the bright side: More time in the summer, more time in the fall. This can't be all bad.

Then I found out who they'd hired to replace me. As I understand it (and I'm not going to go back and clear up anything I might misunderstand), the new Kindergarten teacher, who is from town in Central Nebraska and is 22, will the be acting head coach, but her title will be assistant. No way to know about her commitment to the "town". The other assistant has a daughter who PLAYS VOLLEYBALL FOR THE RIVAL HIGH SCHOOL! That throws up a big commitment red flag for me, too. Finally, the woman with the title of head coach has a son who runs cross-country at another high school, so she'll almost definitely miss multiple events during the season. Again... I had proven my commitment for six years. Admittedly, the woman hired as the head coach is a graduate of the high school, but I know as a parent, I'D want to go to my kids' stuff.

So anyway, other little things happened that made it abundantly clear, to me at least, that it was time to seek opportunities elsewhere again. I cast a slightly wider net this time (and we again changed what we were looking for in a new home. Our agent, Melanie, was SOO patient with us!) and found a job quickly. The school where I'll be teaching fourth grade and coaching in the fall is a school that PLAYS AGAINST THE SCHOOL I JUST LEFT in our second competition of the year. The team I coached had won the match the last five years. I expect that to change this year.

So now, I've had to change jobs, I didn't mean to slip that bit about house-hunting in there without preface, but it's in there now, so I let's talk about that. We started looking back in the fall, but we'd spend time and find some okay stuff, but then (usually) I would pump the brakes a bit. Let's wait until this thing (whatever that may be) happens.

Well, on the first day that we scheduled multiple showings, we found the house right off the bat. First one we walked into. It's gorgeous. It's on the east side of Lincoln (making my drive from there to work about the same as it's been the last six years; much shorter than it will be from where we live now). It had only been on the market about four days, so we put in an offer, and they countered with a number that we could live with. They actually gave us a better deal because we signed the contract in May, but aren't closing until September.

At this point, a good part of my days have been spent cleaning, straightening, and packing. That leads to the hardest thing I've probably ever had to do. When Keya and I got married, we both wanted a pet, but a dog was out of the question based on schedules, and I'm not really a cat person, so we settled on a rabbit. He was a ten pound Rex named Thunder. Well, like mentioned earlier, when you have kids, your priorities change.

Thunder had not gotten NEARLY the attention in the last year and a half that he had before Everett. No one's fault, just life. He's neutered, so he probably has at least five years of good life left. On top of that, the giant bunny pen in the living room would NOT help sell the house. We made the incredibly difficult decision to surrender him to the humane society here in Lincoln. Y'all, seriously the hardest thing I've ever made the choice to do. We are both soothed by the fact that we know it was the right move for Thunder.

The overarching theme in this is change. Change can be brutal. I feel like some of these changes are forced on us, but overall, I know it will be good. It will SUCK to move out of this neighborhood, we've got neighbors that we just love and we know we'll see less of them.

There has been some good, though. We inherited my uncle's 2000 Toyota MR2 Spyder. Yes, it's a cool car, but it's made cooler by the fact that it was IN 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS! In the scene in the movie where all the cars are leaving the warehouse to confuse the police. It's not in perfect shape right now, as you can see, but I've done a fair bit of work to get it more up to speed, and the body and paint will be in the process the end of June. More pics later.

The picture that you see was taken in my uncle's driveway in Naples, Florida. That car needed to get back to Lincoln. I had three options: Drive down with my truck and trailer (changes there, too) and load it up, fly down and drive it back, or have it shipped. Well, shipping was going to be $1200, so that was out. Financially it didn't make sense to drive a truck and trailer down to load the car up and then drive back getting awful gas mileage over the course of 3200+ miles. We had credit card points. I flew and then drove.

Now, that car DOES NOT HAVE CRUISE CONTROL. So I drove, in two days, from Cape Coral, Florida, where I got to spend some wonderful time with Brian, Heather, and Ryelynn Huffman. God I miss those guys, back to Lincoln. Y'all, there's a muscle on the front of your shin. The best way to work it is driving 26 hours in two days without cruise.

Traffic in Atlanta is the worst. Cape Coral to Nashville should take 12 hours. It took me better than 14. Twenty miles SOUTH of Atlanta, before you're really in the metro, there was a lane of I-75 northbound closed. I think it was closed for about five miles. In that five miles, there were three accidents. At 2:30 in the afternoon, traffic in the Atlanta area added an hour to my trip. 

This car also meant that we had five vehicles. Our garage only has room for four. We traded in the pickup, which we loved, and the hybrid, which we REALLY loved, for a Nissan Armada. So far, we RE-HEALLY love that. 

I wanted to end this on a positive. Yes, the end is here. No, I didn't include everything that's made these last couple months brutal for me. It hasn't changed my outlook. I'm still obnoxiously upbeat, but that's due to a fantastic family, and spectacular friends who've taken time out to make sure I'm okay. I'm letting myself be the recipient of love and concern, something I rarely do. 

I just wanted to let you all in on this. I'd say that this is the reason that I've been more infrequent lately, but that's not the case. I plan to get back to this more regularly and am trying to figure out how to put some podcasting into my future. I'll focus on this first, though.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Ty, Toddler, Toronto, Travel

Oof. I didn't mean to take this long. Frankly, a lot has happened. In short, when I last posted, I was teaching at Dorchester, though no longer coaching, we were looking at places out west of Lincoln a little bit, and life was... settling in.

Now, I'll be teaching 4th grade at Weeping Water Public Schools next year, and coaching volleyball. We are, tonight, working on putting together an offer for a house on the east side of Lincoln. Life's changing. I've another honesty post in my head, but I'm not there yet.

Anyway, awhile back, I mentioned that I wanted to talk about our adventures with traveling with Everett. At the time of the travel, Everett was 16 months old. We decided, possibly erroneously, to take him on his first flight. Out of the country. Yeah. He'll now think that flying always involves customs.

A little bit about Everett. He's really the chillest baby I've ever been around. I know every parent thinks their kid is the best, so hopefully by acknowledging that you'll take this with the grain of salt with which it can be (should be?) taken, but even daycare talks about how chill he is.

Nevertheless, we've probably all got a horror story from a kid on a flight. I am so hyper-aware of how others perceive me that I don't want to be the parent of that kid.

Add to that the fact that Everett was coming off an ear infection. Let's do the math. Pressure changes are already a pain for kids. Add in the possibility of still-infected ears... I was nervous.

We flew from Omaha. We scheduled it in such a way that we hoped he'd nap for the better part of at least one of the flights, either Omaha to Chicago, or Chicago to Toronto.

He was awake the entire flight from Omaha to Chicago. It was actually wonderful because a couple of people in the row ahead of us got moved up, so Everett and I jumped up there for part of the flight. It allowed me to get this picture, which is one of my all-time favorite pictures of him.
I put him in the seat next to me and strapped him in. He loved it. Quick pause. Yes, he's absolutely adorable. He takes after his mother. ANYWAY, he loved the first flight. He didn't fall asleep until we were on the ground in Chicago. Thankfully, O'Hare can be a long damn taxi. It was, so he got a decent nap.

He loved the airport in Chicago. He loved the people and spent a good part of the time just staring out the window at the airplanes (taking after his dad!). He made friends, and ate, and just generally did great. He really was a rockstar.

The flight to Toronto was completely full. He had to sit on our laps. He rocked it again. This time, he fell asleep on final approach into the airport, slept through taxi (Pearson Airport in Toronto is huge, too) and even through Keya trying to track down his car seat (which was at baggage claim, something we'd been told wouldn't happen). All told, he got a good nap.

Our stay in Toronto was our stay in Toronto. It was great. Everett did awesome in his temporary home. His naps ended up slightly limiting what we could do, but Toronto. was. awesome! I mean, seriously, go visit Toronto. Scared to travel internationally? Go visit Toronto. The people were awesome. The city was clean. We never felt unsafe.

We visited the CN Tower. Everett loved it. We saw the aquarium. Everett explored a playground for the first time. He rocked the time in Toronto. 

The trip back could've been eventful. April 10, 2019 was a bomb cyclone redux in Denver, the city we were scheduled to fly through on the way back to Omaha. Someday, I'll commit a blog to singing the praises of United Airlines for the overall way they handled our situation. Yes. United did a phenomenal job. I already reached out to UAL to let them know. Folks, if a business goes above and beyond, PLEASE tell them. When I was a retail manager, it was so uncommon when people told me about my staff going above and beyond, but when it did, it made everyone's day.

So anyway, after we did some finagling, we were on a flight that left Toronto at 2:20 in the afternoon. This is better than two hours after Everett normally takes his nap. We discovered that when he doesn't get his nap on time, he gets straight manic. And I don't use that phrase lightly. I really mean he's out of control happy.

There was a man working on his laptop. He was incredibly gracious with our son from time-to-time sprinting up to him and then screaming in joy! Over and over. I'm sure when our flight's gate was changed, he breathed a sigh of relief.

Everett's other jam while we were at the first gate was sprinting away from us and then running through the wheelchairs that were stored nearby.

After the gate change, Everett's favorite game was to screech and run away about 10 feet then turn around and screech again. He wasn't obnoxious. He didn't really disrupt anyone, but we couldn't get him to settle down. Needless to say, we were TERRIFIED he wouldn't sleep.

The flight from Toronto to Omaha (yes, it was direct. more on that later) is just a little over two hours. Everett slept for about an hour and a half of it. We landed about four Omaha time.

Some of y'all are waiting for the other shoe to drop. We were, too. It never did. I get being frustrated, pissed even, that it never happened. We were, for obvious reasons, thrilled. 

I don't know if I've said this before, but I've been incredibly blessed in this life. Our son is an example of how kids get younger siblings. He will, at some point, no we're not pregnant right meow, have a sibling. 

He'd always traveled beautifully when driving places. We never imagined that he'd travel so well by air. Sorry if you're disappointed that it wasn't the greatest stressor in our lives this year. I'm sure there are a lot people who can identify, though. Sorry, too, if I'm not the type of husband or dad who falsely commiserates. I'm not going to pretend that my life is tough. I love my wife, my son, and my life. 

Maybe, just maybe, my next post will be more controversial. Maybe I'll get folk riled up. Maybe not. I don't have a theme for this blog.

Soon, you'll learn more about how to Ty One On.

Be well.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

April 20, 1999

I saw on Instagram today someone commenting to the effect of "Have fun with all the posts of your friend smoking weed today!" It was clearly from someone who doesn't smoke weed. That's fine. And I get that, ESPECIALLY with today falling on a Saturday, it will likely be a well-celebrated "holiday." Cool. You do you. 4/20 has never been about that for me, and my senior year of high school changed this date forever.

I am from Lafayette, Colorado and a proud graduate of Centaurus High School. I am the class of 1999. Lafayette is north of Denver in Boulder County. Columbine High School is south of Denver.

Now please, I cannot and will not compare my experience on that day to those who were at Columbine. According to Google Maps, it's a nearly 40 mile drive from Columbine to Centaurus. For many, Columbine is a foot-note in history. For those of us who were in high school in the Denver area that day, it's a memory seared into our brains.

The Columbine attacks are more vivid in my memory of the 9/11 attacks. I suspect there are a lot of reasons for that.

I remember when I first heard what was happening. I was in my car. Centaurus was an open campus, which meant when kids didn't have class, we could leave. It was a Tuesday. I had classes first, second, third, fifth, and seventh periods. At some point during the day, likely during sixth period which was my girlfriend's lunch period, I left the school. The radio station we usually listened to was carrying live news coverage.

We were horrified. This was not the first school shooting in the country, but it was close to home and it was the biggest to that point. Some of us knew kids there. I'm fairly confident I didn't go to seventh period. I was glued to the radio in my car, or in my friends' cars.

We left school that day thinking that though a horrible event had happened, no one had been killed, but that was because at that point, the first responders hadn't gotten in to the school, so despite the fact that the kids who'd gotten out were reporting bodies, the news was running with the official story from the responders, which was responsible.

My closest friend on this earth, who really is my brother, but not blood, was at the doctor's office that day. The initial reports he saw said "CHS" without giving the name of the school. For the briefest moments, he thought his school had been attacked.

You might know this, but high school kids are notoriously selfish and narcissistic. For many of us, that was the first day we really felt deep empathy. Yes, we'd all had the capacity for sympathy and of course had given that to friends who'd broken up, lost pets, or lost loved ones. We weren't heartless. However, this really felt like this could've been us. We ached for those kids who went through this. Our pain, obviously, wasn't even close to theirs, but we grieved alongside them.

That day marked a turning point. Safety at school wasn't a given any longer. We'd always done fire and tornado drills. Now, as an educator, I regularly talk my students through drills that are related to Columbine and other similar attacks, of which we've seen too many. The reality is that as a teacher, I have to assure my kids that I will do everything in my power to keep them safe, even if that means sacrificing myself (Though I do joke with them that I will stand at the door to my classroom with a chair drawn back like a baseball bat. It always relaxes them as we talk about heavy things.).

I'm a liberal. I'll admit that. I don't think I've anything to apologize for in saying that. However, I don't think either side of the gun debate that erupts every time (again, far too many times) this kind of thing happens has it right. Or even really close.

More guns is definitely not the answer. We really should put the idea of arming teachers to bed. I know there are a few who would be fine with having them. Every teacher I know is responsible and would use it only when absolutely necessary. However, having that in the classroom isn't safe.

I'm not going to advocate for removing guns entirely. I know it'll get interpreted as such anyway. The reality is that the conversation NEEDS to involve tighter regulations on guns and destigmatizing mental illness so those who need help feel comfortable reaching out whenever necessary (no one would ever tell someone with a compound fracture to just shove the bone back in their skin and get over it).

The mental health aspect of this epidemic was brought into stark relieve this week with an 18-year-old woman flying from the Miami area to Denver who was "infatuated" with Columbine. Every district in the Denver-area, and many beyond, were closed out of fear for the lives of students and staff. She was, sadly, found after completing suicide. I cannot imagine the terror and difficulty faced by staff, students, and families in Denver over those 48 or so hours.

April 20, 1999 is a day that will haunt me forever. So many people talk about where they were when they heard and watched coverage of September 11, 2001, or Kennedy's assassination, or Pearl Harbor. The names of those 13 lives stolen that day key a visceral reaction in me and I think back to sitting with my friends in the library at Centaurus, making ribbons out of navy and silver ribbon as our way of standing with the Rebels of Columbine. I remember so many things that day.

I will never forget 4/20/99. I ache for those lost, and I ache each time something like this happens again. I wish we'd learned and applied all those lessons that day, but we didn't. I pray it never happens again, but prepare myself to pray, again, for those killed in acts like this that are carried out in places of worship, businesses, movie theaters, and other gathering places across the country I love.

I want us to do better.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


So, let's take a little turn. I follow politics and the general conversations in the world more closely than many, so I feel like my posts were heading in a somewhat political direction. That's not the intent of this outlet.

I've long toyed with how to address the fatherhood issue. Okay... long's probably the wrong way of looking at this as I've been a father now for *checks watch* fifteen and a half months. (Sidenote, Keya and I will not be those parents who are talking about their 26 month old. Months till eighteen, then half years). Even though it's been a little over a year of actual fatherhood, the idea's been on my mind a LONG time.

I always wanted two to three kids. It seemed like a perfect number. I also wanted boys and girls. In fact, if we're being really honest, I always thought I'd prefer to have girls. I really don't know why, but that was kind of my thought.

In college, my sophomore roommate and I had a plan. We'd have live-in girlfriends before the year in the apartment was up, then be on our way to getting married before college was over. We forgot to tell the women of Colorado Springs that was our plan. Needless to say, college went on and I had girlfriends, but nothing ever moving to the point of long-term.

Nevertheless, I got out of college without the prospect of marriage, let alone kids, so life went on. I could be a selfish, self-serving bachelor. Yes, again, girlfriends, a couple who I even thought were going to be long-term (some will tell you that was all of them in the first couple of dates...), but nothing stuck.

It's completely arbitrary, but by the time I hit 30, and there was nothing on the horizon, I began to allow myself to consider the lifelong bachelor life. I had a couple reasons. One, all my cousins and my brother on my mom's side were married (we hardly spoke to Dad's side), so ONE of us had to stay single, right? AND, it turned out as much as I fancied myself a Ted, I was much more Barney most of the time. (HIMYM reference)

It was that same time frame that I made the decision to move from Colorado to Nebraska. Wanna learn more? Go WAY back in these blogs (to, like, 2011). Now I've been a committed Husker fan for close to 30 years now, and many around me joked that I'd meet my wife within six months of moving to Nebraska.

I did. One problem, however, was that I was dating someone else at the time. Now, there were other factors complicating things but nevertheless it took us awhile to start dating. By the time we got married, I was 32.

Like I said, I'd always wanted two to three kids. But now, as I'm doing the math, I was down to two or fewer. The reasoning was simple, at this point, my parents would be in their late 80s or 90s when my kids graduated high school. That happening generation-after-generation isn't terrible appealing. And though I realize that men can have kids much later in their life than women can, I didn't want to be in my 40s with an infant.

Y'all are doing the math now. Wait, Ty. You're 32 at this point in the story. (Which is dragging on, BY THE WAY). You have LOTS of time to have three kids and not be in your 40s when they're infants. I should also add that one of the things that Keya and I agreed on when we were dating and engaged was that kids would wait until we'd had time to be a married couple. Travel, grow, establish ourselves. Oh, and she wanted to be done (or almost done) with her PhD.

So we went over four years before we had our first son. I was 36 when Everett was born. My dad was 37 when I was born. Keya and I are trying hard to make sure he's MOSTLY out of diapers when he has a sibling. (Before you start to get excited, no, this is not some announcement about another pregnancy).

Now, that's a lot of background to tell you this: Being a father is the greatest thing that's ever happened to me. Ever. I know a lot of people say that. Let me tell you, that selfish bachelor never really went away (still hasn't). I was very worried about how having a kid would change our life. I was concerned that things I'd love to do, I wouldn't be able to do at all, or at least nearly as much.

I'll never forget the first time I saw Everett. If you've never had the pleasure, seeing a baby in the seconds after it's born is gross. It is. But it's the single most emotional moment of my life. I don't cry. Ever. It's cause I'm profoundly broken (a blog for another day), but I. Don't. Cry.

I didn't that day either, but it was as close as I've been since about sixth grade. That selfish bachelor had a whole new perspective.

As crazy as it seems to me, well, or it would have seemed to me before December of 2017, every decision now is based in Everett's best interest. I really don't have the selfish impulses I did.

I love coming home to this kid. He's a little over fifteen months old, and he's running everywhere, full of personality, picks up baby sign like it's his job, and has the cutest quirks. Also, he's completely adorable.

It's funny the way that even a fifteen month old plays differently with Mom and Dad. He and I roughhouse more than he does with Keya. Sure, that's relative with a baby so young, but it's true.

You might have some idea from, in particular, the last couple blogs about how Keya and I have talked about raising Everett. The reality is, even though he gets gifts that are mostly "boy" gifts, there will be very few things we won't allow him to try. Dance? Sure. Basketball? Absolutely. Gymnastics? Don't get too attached, you'll likely be over six feet tall, but sure. And there's no such thing as boy colors or girl colors.

Fatherhood's been the most incredible journey for me. Both getting there and now the short period of time I've been there. I know it's trite, but it's so much more than I had ever imagined. I'm so grateful that Everett is mine and I get to share this journey with Keya. I love fatherhood. I love my son more than anything, but don't look for the "to the moon and back" social media posts. I don't think I need to advertise that.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Scouts, Razors, and the Man Cold

Let me start this with a phrase that will turn some people off based on the content of this blog, "In the era of #MeToo"...

I will preface a good bit of the rest of this by saying that I do fancy myself somewhat of a feminist. I don't subscribe to the idea that women having the same rights and opportunities that I have somehow steals rights and opportunities from me. Admittedly, I'm also a white male, so privilege is stacked up here. Oh. Stacked up about 6'7". One has to note that there is a lot of privilege here.

So, on to the title of this entry. The title of this changed when I woke up with a brutal cold and I thought, what the heck? It kinda fits. The trope goes that men have a minor cold and cannot get out of bed, whereas women will be fighting three kinds of pneumonia, the flu, possibly meningitis, and gangrene, but still getting the kids off to school with lunches while tending to her barely ailing husband.

This has always annoyed me. In fact, there are quite a few things we'll talk about that have bothered me. This is probably because my dad, who is my greatest role model, rarely missed a day of work. While he'd tell us he was sick, he didn't act any different unless it was REALLY bad. My wife will tell you that I often will get sick and not even tell her until I'm over it. Often, I don't take medicine. That's not because I'm against meds, but I frankly want to know when my symptoms are subsiding, not be unpleasantly surprised when they come back six hours later.


Hi. I'm Ty Peteranetz, Eagle Scout. When I was on my Eagle Board of Review as a 15 year old, two questions really stuck. One we were coached on how to answer. That question was, "What will you do after you are an Eagle Scout?" or something like that. The coached answer is, "Once an Eagle, always an Eagle."

The other one that has really stuck with me was something like, "Do you think that girls should be allowed to join Boy Scouts?" My answer was simply that I thought they should. Now, before you start accusing me of having 15-year-old boy reasoning for that, I did, but more important to me was the fact that the Girl Scouts don't have an award with the prestige of the Eagle award.

Now in the world where Boy Scouts has officially changed their name to Scouts BSA, and all levels of scouting are open to young women, I'm thrilled that this has been a topic of conversation within the scouting community for better than twenty years. I'm sad it took so long, but glad it happened.

Again, it absolutely doesn't dilute the award with more people now able to attain Eagle. I'd be proud to be in attendance at the first Eagle Court of Honor where a young woman is awarded the rank I've proudly held since 1997. In fact, Scouting BSA, if you're reading this, please get me in there.

Finally, the razors. NO I WILL NOT BE BOUND BY THE ORDER OF MY TITLE! That Gillette ad. Oof.

First off, I loved it. One of the phrases that has really driven me nuts since I became a teacher is "Boys will be boys." Here are my problems with that phrase: 1) It excuses behaviors that boys absolutely can control and 2) It makes it seem as though boys are not capable of doing otherwise.

K. So let's start at the beginning. What really happens with this is that behaviors that are inexcusable with girls or even less-masculine boys are allowed because "that's what boys do". Why? Why do boys do that? Because we allow it. Because boys, specifically certain boys, are expected to break the rules for some reason.

To the second point, there have been quite a few times lately where it seems like men are treated as incapable of self-control. I feel like it never struck people that the self-control men seem to lack is learned in adolescence when we say that boys will be boys, as opposed to teaching them correct decorum.

In that Gillette ad, we're suddenly rewarding men for acting human. As mentioned previously, I love the commercial. I actually love the run of corporations making social stands. When I first watched the commercial, I found myself actively rooting throughout. For what? I don't know. I was excited.

This isn't quite where I found this ending, but I never felt comfortable in the traditionally masculine stereotypes. I played volleyball and tennis in high school. I was also 6'5" and weighed less than 170 pounds when I graduated high school. Football, for example, wasn't really going to work for me.

Toxic masculinity is problematic. I'm not saying I haven't partaken in it from time to time, but it's not good. The fact that more and more you're seeing a wide array of examples of what it means to be a man, or woman, or whatever, means more and more people can be comfortable with themselves.

I'm glad these things are changing. I know I come from a unique perspective, but I'm glad that more and more people are finding opportunities. We're not even close to where we need to be, but each step can be celebrated.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Why Would You Say That?

So, this past weekend, the club volleyball team I coach participated in the Asics President's Day Classic in Omaha. I couldn't have asked for a better weekend from the team. Every single player got better, and I literally saw seismic changes in the course of just a couple of points.

It brings me, however, to the title of this entry. On two different times Sunday, an official or a coach who had been on the other side of the net told me that they were impressed that I coached my team all the way till the end. Huh?

My first thought was, that's literally my job. My job is to help these young athletes get better, learn from every mistake, and grow their competence and confidence in volleyball.

Then it hit me, and I've watched and commented on this a lot, but my humility (yes, I swear I have some), gets in the way sometimes. I felt like I was doing the bare minimum, but there are coaches I see ALL THE TIME who are doing so much less.

My style of coaching has always been super-engaged. It's the only way I think about it. I'm not trying to make a spectacle, though I know I sometimes do. I get caught up in the emotion of the match in much the same way my players do. Although I like to think that most of the time I can be calm and reasoned when need be, and I try not to get too hot-headed.

Though I've definitely not always been perfect, I try to take the lessons that I imperfectly use in teaching, specifically praise in public, criticize in private. The times I haven't stuck to this, I've tried to make sure I apologize to the athlete in question.

I certainly have tried not to scream at my players in front of a whole gym. I don't think that gets you any place as a coach and it sure doesn't fit my style. Again, the times when I have, I've tried to make it right with the athletes.

One has to acknowledge that all players respond to different coaching. There are absolutely athletes who thrive when getting called out in front of large groups. However, that's not my personality, and I know it comes off as artificial and contrived.

Rarely have I been without something to say to the players on the court. That's why it's so easy for me to coach all the way to the very last point. I've also seen some spectacular comebacks in my day, and don't ever want to deny the players that opportunity because it feels as though I've given up on them. It's not who I am.

Prior to now, did I think of my technique as teaching great lessons to my players? No. I really didn't. However, being engaged with your team every point conveys the message that they're still important, valuable, and can be successful, even if things aren't going perfectly.

One of the things I love about the club that I have the privilege to coach for is that's exactly what our club director expects. The expectation is that we coach the kids to improve every point and play the right way, and then winning will come. We know if we train the girls correctly in practice, and enforce that "We will get better every point" mindset, the wins will come in spades. The club season is a marathon, not a sprint. So far, every year I've coached with this club, it's been the case that the teams have been much better at the end of the season. I'm so grateful to still be part of the organization.

This whole, "Why Would You Say That?" thing got me thinking about something down the same lines that's always bothered me. The idea that dads "babysit" their own kids. I'm sorry, but that's unfathomably stupid to me, and kind of offensive.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized we say it for the EXACT SAME REASON as the coaching comments from the officials and other coaches I mentioned earlier. Other dads set the bar so low. The idea that dads only parent part time, or from time to time is sort of like babysitting.

If you read this and take issue with this last bit, that's fine. So far, in my marriage, the division of responsibility has been pretty good, I think (signs that I'm probably wrong....). I SO look forward to coming home every day and playing with Everett. In fact, I look forward to it more each day because I swear to God he learns how to do something new and fun daily.

I don't babysit Everett. I never have. I never will. He's my son. I parent him. Sometimes well, sometimes not as well, but I signed up to be his parent, not his babysitter.

Ideally, the type of coaching for which I received the compliments I did over the weekend would become so commonplace, no one would even notice me. Heck, I wish people didn't notice me coaching, because it takes the focus off the players who are putting their all on the line. I know, I know, I do stupid things on the sideline that naturally draw attention, but it's not to put the attention on me, it's to celebrate with my players; to show them that I'm with them.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Dichotomy? Dichotomy.

With this blog, I often run into the same thing I run into with nearly everything: I have a great idea, then I don't get to a place where I can write it in time. I'm not good enough with my phone to do it there and frankly I type fast enough that I really need to do it on a computer.

One of the things I tell people about me a lot is that two of my favorite things could not be more different: NASCAR Racing and musical theatre. I love them both, and it's entirely my parents' fault.

I could really talk about either of these first as my story for loving either is based on time spent with family, but the NASCAR side came up today in conversations with a co-worker, so let's start with that.

My recollection of racing fandom actually started with open wheel cars, specifically Indy Cars. I really think we watched that more than we watched NASCAR and other stock cars at first. Dad, Jay, and I went to the inaugural Denver Grand Prix run on the streets of Denver. Watching races at a street track is not real exciting.

However, that really wasn't the reason that NASCAR became our preferred form of motorsport spectation. It had more to do with the proximity to Colorado National Speedway (CNS), what is one of today's NASCAR HomeTracks.

We'd go watch the races on an occasional Saturday night and we started to watch what was then known as Winston Cup racing on TV once we got cable. Then, on a random off-weekend during the summer, a half-dozen or so Winston Cup drivers drove a short demo race at CNS and sign autographs. Now, among the drivers signing autographs but not driving was Richard Petty, the King. Ernie Irvan, Brett Bodine, and Michael Waltrip. They drove the short demo race in cars from the local drivers.

When NASCAR announced they'd finally be heading to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400, Dad put in for tickets, figuring it was about a million to one chance. He's often said that one of his greatest Christmas presents was the letter he got saying he'd been one of the lottery ticket winners. We were going to the inaugural 400.

There really is nothing like going to a major NASCAR race. Camping in the on-site campgrounds, making friends over a "colbeer," as they're often called, and just the whole atmosphere in the campgrounds is crazy, fun, and boundlessly energetic. Talledega is legendary for its party scene, but Bristol's campground is all night. I lost a lot of sleep listening to the *thump, thump, thump* "WOO!" of cornhole into the wee hours.

My favorite camping in Phoenix. It's spread out more than any of the other campgrounds, in the middle of the desert and much more serene. I'm not much of a partier and that's the kind of scene I've always enjoyed when camping.

The last few years, my dad and I have gone to Kansas Speedway for the spring race every year. It's close to Lincoln and really a great place and track and general experience. It's also one of the few times I get to see one of my long-time snowmobiling, race, and golf buddies, Mike. It's really a great weekend.

I get that people DON'T get NASCAR. I do. I'm sitting here on a Thursday night watching the Duels, the qualifying races for the Daytona 500. Often, I'll turn a race on, watch the start, then take a nap, then watch the finish. I'll be real, I get why people think it's boring, but I still love it. Even on TV it's loud, it's powerful, and the skill is mind-blowing.

I am anxious to take Everett to his first NASCAR race. When he has a sibling or more, I'll take them as well. If they hate it, I won't make them watch it with me or go to a race again, but I'm hoping they'll at least give the race a shot live.

While it's maybe not explicit up there, the fact that I get to go to the race with my dad, and often with my brother, is a big part of why I love racing. The association with great time with my family is a huge part of why I love the sport. Nights with the family are a big part of the reason I love musical theatre as well.

Now, my mom is a retired music teacher. I've never really asked my parents how my dad became a fan of musicals himself, but by the time I have a solid recollection, my parents had season tickets to the Temple Buell Theater in Denver. If there was a show they thought Jay and I would like, they'd get us tickets. They were usually right. It was also a time to put on some fancy clothes and head to downtown Denver as have a fancy meal as well.

Musicals also served as dates for me when I was, well, dating. Sometimes I'd take her along when my family went, but more often I'd pick up tickets and the two of us would go, including to Wicked in Omaha and in Denver, in less than a year.

Wicked's my favorite musical, hands down. Though I will say that Once is close behind. I love the songs and I could sing them out loud at any opportunity. I know I am not a great singer. I'm not delusional. However, I love belting those songs out. I also love the story: the humanizing of the Wicked Witches of Oz.

Keya and I are fortunate here in Lincoln, the Lied Center gets great shows through. It's also part of the University of Nebraska, so we got discount tickets as Keya was going through her PhD program. We've continued to support the Lied through donations and buying season tickets.

As was mentioned at the beginning of this, musicals and NASCAR are two of my favorite things. I mentioned to a friend of mine that if I had any advice for my 18 year-old self it'd be to define yourself. Don't let anyone else define who you are.

One of the my most valuable learnings in college was that it's okay to like whatever the hell you like (within reason), so if others are going to tell you that you should or shouldn't like that, don't listen. I became a lot happier when I listened to whatever music I wanted to, wore what suited me, and generally comported myself in the way that felt most comfortable. As soon as I cared much less about what others thought, my self-worth improved.

Yeah, it's weird to have a NASCAR tee underneath my Wicked sweatshirt, but it's who I am. They're two things I enjoy, and embracing those two sides of myself has made me happy.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Fitness Bloggin'

One of the things I promised to talk about in this blog is my fitness... journey? Let's be real, I hate the language that the #fitspo people use on social media. In fact, I had fitness Instagram, but it became way too cumbersome to keep up. I hardly take care of my personal social media accounts. Right now, between Snapchat and and Instagram, that's where my fitness posts end up. I also re-post to Twitter from Instagram since it's super easy to do so.

So, back to the meet of this post, fittin' this blog in. Like so much social media, we tend to only post the good so it looks like things are rolling. Now, I don't intentionally do that, but if people are taking motivation from our fitness pages, of course we want to only show when we're rocking it. But there's a real-life side to it we try (or maybe it's unintentional) to hide.

I am confident in saying I'm in the best shape I've ever been in. I'm 38. It's been a conscious and sometimes very difficult choice. My cardiovascular health is not as good as it's been recently, but I hate treadmills and when the temperature is below freezing, I make the choice not to run. I secretly have come to really like running.

Right now, I have the chance to lift after school in Dorchester's weight room. It's awesome. I generally have it all to myself or only another teacher in there. It's kinda peaceful and it's definitely making a difference.

My Fitbit daily steps goal is 12,000. At this point I'm entirely unsure why I boosted it from the 10,000 that's preset, but I did, and it's something I try to hit daily. If I don't make it, I at least push to make sure that I average 12,000 per day. That's attainable.

A big part of fitness is diet. I know this. I basically haven't had soda in over a year. Do I still drink them from time-to-time? Yes. When I say I haven't had soda in over a year, what I mean is drink it once or twice a month, if that. It's not something I choose. I don't buy from the machine in the teacher's lounge. I don't keep it at home.

I'm not perfect when it comes to my diet. We still eat a lot of prepackaged stuff in our house, but we're getting better. The biggest change I've made is portion. I don't know where I got the notion that "men should eat big", but I'd always upsize my meal at fast food joints. I'd always get the biggest option at ice cream places. I've stopped doing that. I do much better with fruit or granola bars for snacks, things that fill me up, but have other nutrition in them (yes, I know it's not perfect either) so I stay full longer. I drink a LOT of water.

This is more background than I'd originally meant, but all of this is to say that fitness is not a straight line, at least not for me. I'm still a little fluffy in places, but I'm working on it. As I type this, I'm coming off one of the laziest, cheatiest days I've had in awhile. I was just over 4,000 steps. It won't throw me off of my trajectory. We had a "Cold Day" off of school as the temperature barely broke zero and the wind chill was between 15 and 20 below. Oh, and Everett had a double ear infection so the fever the day before dictated that he was home from daycare, so I got a full day of playing with a healthy kiddo (no fever yesterday).

One of the things that I feel like is lost in so many fitness discussions is grace and forgiveness. There will be days. My goodness will there be days. Days when you just don't feel like it. Days when life suddenly gets in the way. Days when you just. Can't. Work out. Holiday season days (ya know, when the calorie count for everything somehow suddenly doubles). You have to forgive those days, or they'll knock you completely off your path.

I've been there. I've been knocked off this path many times before. In fact, I've started this more times than I can count.

I'll always remember the day in December my second year teaching. I picked my kids up from PE and the PE teacher told me that I'd be doing the January healthy eating challenge with my kiddos. What came out of my mouth was, "Okay," but what was in my head was, "Why?". I then took another pull of my Cherry Coke and looked at my watch. It was 9:30 AM. The why was answered for me. I was 235 pounds that Christmas. By the BolderBoulder that May, I was down to 205. I'd done well.

That didn't really stick, though. I mean, I tried, but the walk to the fitness center in my community was, like, almost a full block, and mostly I had other things I wanted to do. Then I moved to Nebraska and the list of reasons grew. I mean, I sorta tried to. My weight never again broke 215, but I never got in to a real routine.

Then I met Keya. Keya makes fitness a priority. I realized if this woman was going to commit her life to me, that my committing mine to her meant more than saying I'd be faithful and all those other wedding vows. I had to commit to her lifestyle. To say that there have been speed bumps in that process is an understatement, but now we own three major pieces of fitness equipment. Neither of us ever lets two days pass without a workout, even if it's a small one. I hope that the example we set shows Everett and any future kids that fitness is fun and a priority.

When people ask me why I workout my answer's almost always the same, "To get less fat." They usually respond with, "You're not fat." That's not what I said. I know I'm not. 205 pounds spread out over a 6'7" frame isn't fat. Not even close. In fact, even in losing those 30 pounds, it was hard to tell because of my height. But there are places I'd like to clean up, and that means being less fat.

I suppose I've reached my goal of being less fat, but I'm not as less fat as I'd like to be. My lazy/cheat days tend to be fairly epic with me thinking eff it, I've already taken today off, let's really make it count, but I can refocus the next day and get back after it. I, gasp, LOOK FORWARD to working out. My story isn't anyone else's. You can't compare your fitness to another person's, that's a great way to get discouraged and knocked down.

However, I do hope that if you're taking time to read this and are some point on your, sigh, "fitness journey," that you can take some solace in knowing it's far from a straight line. Sometimes it looks more like a topo map of the Colorado mountains and there are precipitous drops. You can get there. I did.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Corporate Entities

I haven't forgotten. This blog wasn't a "Hey! Three weeks and then gone again!" No, actually this time, I've had too many ideas floating around in my head, and wasn't quite sure which one to give life to. I have a series of stories that will make their way into posts on this blog. I also figure I'll write about fitness, parenting, life, ya know, just whatever.

But I got to thinking, while I was in Minneapolis for the National Championship, about those companies that we just assume are national, but aren't, or companies whose reach is greater than we realized.

That thought got me thinking about random conversations I've had with friends through the years related to corporations. Blue Bell Ice Cream, for example, basically used the same jingle for 30+ years. I'm pretty sure the only reason that Discount Tire stopped using the commercial where the old woman throws a tire through the window is that TV technology got so good the commercial looked terrible. According to Youtube, the commercial was originally filmed in 1975. I know I saw it into the 21st Century.

So, I guess what it comes down to, is this is going to be somewhat rambling about the companies that are in our lives, and the effect that they have (mostly on mine, obviously).

As someone who grew up in Denver, if I simply type, "Now you have a friend in the diamond business..." anyone who grew up someplace where Shane Company has stores will have some version of the end of that commercial that tells you where there store was. In Denver for a long time it was ..."just off Arapahoe Road on Emporia Street, one-half mile of I-25. Open Monday through Friday till eight, Saturday and Sunday till five." Then adding a new store and the online options changed it all and when we were back in Colorado this last time, I couldn't even recognize it, but hearing Tom Shane's voice was still somewhat comforting.

Menard's is a company that comes to mind when I think about a company that feels ubiquitous in many places, but others may have never shopped at one. Menard's is even more common than Home Depot and Lowe's in many parts of the midwest, but there isn't one east of Ohio, south of Missouri, or west of Wyoming.

Grocery stores are another weird one. In Colorado it was Safeway and King Soopers (owned by Kroger). In many of the smaller towns you'll see the Kroger stores branded as City Market. Living there for 30 years, I'd come to rely on King Soopers for a lot of things. When I moved to Omaha, the Kroger brand was Baker's, but King Soopers it wasn't. Here, I've discovered the joy of Hy-Vee. It's actually the best. My buddy Jack got REALLY excited about Hy-Vee when we were hanging out one night.

The catalyst for this article was driving around Minneapolis and I saw a storefront for Paul Davis Restoration. That was a brand I'd seen in Lincoln and Omaha and assumed was local. It might be weirder to discover that a company you thought for sure was only in your part of the world exists other places.

I fully acknowledge that this is written with no input from others, and my perspective about brands who've crossed my path in my life. Maybe reading this made you think of something down these lines, or maybe you smiled and realized you weren't alone.

The last thing I'll mention on here is the Diamond Store. When I moved to Colorado Springs, I'd grown accustomed to large-market type commercials. The low quality of commercials in Colorado Springs blew my mind. I can't remember most of the ads, but the worst was the ninja ad. It's really difficult to describe, and a cursory glance through YouTube didn't show me any of their commercials, BUT it was bad. It's basically this rotund, middle-aged man with a beard who is fighting ninjas in the jewelry store (he was in all their ads, I assume to this day he owned the store) and it ends with the tagline, "Not even ninjas can keep you from the great deals" or something to that effect. It was terrible, but here we are, 15+ years on and I still remember it.

Thanks as always for reading!