Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How to say "The"

You won't find me trying to argue for the firing of Jim Tressel, likewise, you won't find me arguing that he wasn't wrong. The level of wrong as far as I can see would result in a simple "Hey Jim, don't do that anymore, ok?"...instead we have THE OSU turning their back on the man that has more principle than the collection of remaining college coaches. Right now, coaches like Nick Saban, Gene Chizik, and other big programs are scrambling to close the mouths of those whistle blowers that could make them the next JT punchline. The problem of student athletes selling their gear for cash or body ink has zero impact on me. I think they're stupid, but it's their loss down the road. Should a coach be fired because of their lack of nostalgia? Not at all. What fired JT is the simple fact that when it came time to choose loyalty to players or loyalty to what is right, he chose wrong. In a parallel to the final scene of Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade, when the guy chose the wrong holy grail and evaporated into dust, Jimmy T did the same. At the moment when the NCAA asked him in December "did you know about this?" Whether he knew what he was doing or not, he should have told the truth. At that moment when he said "I didn't know about it" blammo evaporated grail style.

His loyalty to the players killed his chances of making it thru this storm. My problem isn't even the loyalty, it's what was brewed before that. It's the false empowerment gave to players like Pryor. His comment in the SI article that bothers me the most is when TP says "I can get anything I want" referring to gear such as shoulder pads, etc. Players like Pryor became bigger than the program, and that I blame Tress for. I don't blame him for any wrong doing other than lying and allowing #2 to become an ego factory. I watched a practice once when Pryor walked out 20 minutes late, nothing snapped up, and didn't even join his teammates for stretching. I looked to Tress to rip his face off, instead I was left expecting more. Instead I watched a lackluster superstar give just that type of effort all practice, never to be talked to. Maybe the machine was already rolling and the scandals were years deep by that point, but that day my OSU pride died a little inside of me because I expected more. Today I sit a broken OSU fan, unsure of what I grab hold of. Before today I could tie myself to the fact that "We do things the right way, the winners way". Now we are looked upon as "every other program". When things started to go south for the program I expected more. I expected more from Tressel and to do what was right no matter what consequence it had. I expected more from the University to stand by their guy. I expected more from players that love him and come to his defense. Instead I am just slowly losing a great source of pride.

So, I think all of ohio state nation needs to start learning how to pronounce word "the" because we aren't THE Ohio State University, we are just the.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Engagement

Today marks the 4th year date of our engagement. If it were up to Lindsey we would have been engaged much earlier. The amount of pressure put on a guy to get engaged, then to plan the engagement is immense. Let's be honest, typically guys are awful at planning things, we just want to do it, be done, and move on. The whole idea of spending months planning and orchestrating is just exhausting. However, guys want to make their significant others happy, so we do it.

My time came. The day of being the single man was over. I went ring shopping with my buddy Jordan and decided on the perfect stone. Now it was time to design what would hold it. Knowing a little bit about what she wanted, I went on to design a ring that I thought would fit her perfectly.

The ring is a huge part, but it's not the only part. The other half of the equation is how to get that ring on her finger? Do you go the simple dinner out, pop on a knee? Maybe you're that guy that proposes at the ball game? In front of family? None of these would work for me. If you know me at all you know that at times I can be a bit over the top. This seemed to be one of those times that called for big plans.

Step one: Get the Father in Law blessing. I'm comfortable talking to anyone, but asking for the blessing is a pressure cooker man. We were sitting there on Derby Day I believe, which happens to be like a national holiday for my father in law. So, in my mind, why not ask him the most important question on the day he just wants to sit in his chair and watch races all day? Brilliant huh? So with Lindsey and her mom in the other room I dropped the ol' bomb on Gary and ask for his blessing. He agrees of course, but not sure if it was due to excitement or simply because the horses were at the gate and the next race was starting. I didn't tell the mother in law, and to this day I still get crap. Ha.

Step two: Think of the knockout plan. I had initially thought I would propose in California. We were heading there for Jordan's wedding, why not use the golden coast as my backdrop. Then I kept thinking about Meet the Parents, and checking the bag, losing the ring, and all of that so I backed out. Next was to do it at Florida with Lindsey's extended family all there on the beach. Then I realized I wasn't sure how much this family really liked me at the time, and to do that you have to be pretty confident that an excited response would be your return. So I settle on the best friend approach.

Step three: Secure the plan. I call Jess, Lindsey's best friend, to orchestrate this plan of deception on my future wife. We agree to tell her she is invited to South Carolina to help Jess plan her upcoming wedding to Lindsey's cousin. Lindsey of course has some reservations on the cost of flights and I need her to only buy a one way ticket, so we make up the idea that Jess has a "one way voucher" for a flight. My ever-trusting wife agrees, and purchases the one way ticket.

Step four: Details. Jess and I discuss the idea of proposing on this bridge that overlooks a waterfall and ravine. Perfect. Let's do it. The plan is in place.

Step five: Transportation. I didn't want to drive my new car, so I rented a standard pontiac grand am. I show up at the rental store and am asked why I am renting a car. So I explain the whole story, show the ladies the ring....bada bing...instant upgrade. I get the choice of the lot. I pick out a brand new SUV with all the bells and whistles. Girls love a mushy story.

Step six: Passengers. I didn't want to drive 9 hours alone, so I asked Lindsey's sister, Lana. We didn't really know eachother all that well, but I thought what the heck this is a good way to learn. We had a great time in the ride, screaming songs at the top of our lungs when we got a little stir crazy thru the mountains. Ate an amazing corn dog, and spent a lot of time getting to know each other.

Execution. Now that the time had come I was getting nervous because our entire plan hinged on good weather. I look up the weather report that morning and sure enough, rain. Toby, the cousin, picks us up and it is raining, like fat rain. We are talking in the car about our plan B, which of course we have no plan B so it's just "plan screwed". As we drive closer to the bridge the rain begins to stop. We park and walk to the bridge where I take my post, Toby and Lana go hide down the bridge so they can give me the signal (raise a leg when you see Lindsey coming). I am watching them but also thinking about the past 26 years. All those girlfriends and dates that led me to this point. It's funny, each person/date you learn something about yourself and what you're looking for in a spouse. You kind of owe them a thank you at that moment. I'm snapped back into reality when I see Toby pumping his leg like he's trying to stomp a family of oversized ants. I give a quick look to my left and see Jess and Lindsey walking toward me. I get that huge lump in my throat and reach for the ring in my pocket that I have now thumbed over a million times to make sure it's there.

This is it, I think to myself.

I spin around all hollywood style to surprise my future wife. With a stunned look on her face she reaches her hands to her mouth and can't audible a single thing. I pop down on one leg, say something that I honestly can't remember, and probably is a good thing. After gathering her senses she finally says yes (talk about sweating that out) and I put the ring on her finger. That moment it all comes full circle and you realize all that planning is worth it because of the phone calls and joy your fiance gets to make to tell everyone how it went down. Except that phone call to the mother in law that didn't know, sorry Kim!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

44 (ok maybe just 22)

I heard a report this morning about a man who made it big with his little business. He retired with a large amount of available cash, so he spent the next few years traveling around the world and thanking 44 people that impacted his life in a positive way. This blog really isn't for anyone but me and those 44 people. I am not even sure I have 44 people yet, then again, I am half this guys age. So I am going to go with 22 people. The one qualifier is that I can't pick anyone in my family and the current people I am involved with like close friends and colleagues right now or in the last couple years. The story isn't written on how you have completely impacted my life. So 22 people from my past that impacted me in a positive way: (i encourage you to do the same) This is no order. If I could thank each of them individually I would, and I hope they all know the difference they made in at least one kid's life.

1. Dr. David Allen. My freshman year at U of F Doc was one of my professors. He saw something in me and hired me as his teaching assistant. He and I became close over the four years and he always pushed me to dream big, never settling. He didn't have any sons and I always felt like he viewed me in that way. He passed away two years after I graduated, but I will always remember him.

2. Mr. Todd Edmond. Mr. E was my social studies teacher in high school. By the time I was a senior I still had no idea what I wanted to go into college for. During my senior year I had a history class with him and the light turned on. Mr. E made history fun and made me want to do the same for kids. It was because of that senior year experience and his teaching style that I am teaching the way I do.

3. Mrs. Melissa DeMoss. My high school art teacher. She was a breath of honesty. She told me when I sucked. She told me when I was great. The thing I remember about Mrs. D the most is that she told me when I was being average. Even when I wasn't in her class my senior year, she was a shot of reality for me that my big ego headed self needed. I treat kids the same way now because I realize the long lasting impact it had. Plus she was really freaking fun.

4. Lorraine Mackey (now Smith). She was my high school musical director. She took a high school QB and turned him into Glee. I was opened to an entirely new set of people and kids that makes me appreciate all kids now as a teacher. She took my insecurities and helped me become a more well rounded person. She also got me involved in summer camps helping kids realize they can play sports and be a part of the arts. That was life changing.

5. Cliff Hite. Findlay high school head football coach. You wanna talk about eccentric? Coach Hite was the model of it. Football coach, history teacher, community actor, and now Ohio Senator. I learned about the spread offense from him. Teaching me the insides and outs, making it as easy as PB and J. He showed me how not to take everything so seriously, but have a serious goal.

6. Bill Rietz. SS department chair my first 4 years of teaching. This is the most recent person I think I can post based on the rules. Bill has since retired and I really haven't had much contact in 3 years. Bill sat me down halfway thru my first year of teaching (we shared a room). He asked me what I wanted to get out of teaching. He went on to say that the current way I'm teaching isn't going to result in those goals. He taught me more in that half hour conversation and the first year I was teaching than all the methodology classes combined in college. I grew because of Mr. Rietz. He corrected me when I needed it and because of him I have continued to grow each year.

7. Pastor Rob Mitchell. Rob was my youth pastor. He made liking football and Jesus cool. Sounds silly, but that is what made him to real to me. Here was a guy that loved the packers as a near second to the amount he loved Jesus. I thought that was cool. He left midway thru my school career and I never really grew after that, I think because I was always hoping Rob would return.

8. Coach Hess. My little league and 9th grade football coach. Coach Hess gave me the initial confidence to be a football player. He was my first real coach, other than my dad who I knew already thought the world of me. So here is the guy that I have to impress because I'm not his kid. As little as that level of football really means in the grand scheme, it meant a lot to me that he believed in me and coached me in a positive way.

9. Scott Will. Coach Will was a history teacher, football coach, and an even stronger Christian. In high school you don't have many teachers or coaches that are strong christians. SWill was. He made an impact on me, not necessarily then, but now. He led FCA that I never attended and I don't know why. I look back at the time after time he invited me to come, and I always dissapointed him. Yet he kept asking. Even after school he kept in touch to see how I was doing with life and my walk with Christ. That impacts me to this day with how I handle certain kids.

10. Dr. Denise Callahan. My elementary principal, then my Superintendent. To an elementary kid she was like 7 foot 2. I distinctly remember being called into her office one time for an altercation. She had me sign her book, and if I ever signed that again for getting in trouble it would be an "issue" with her. She taught me that people screw up, but it matters what you do next. She was always so eager to hear how I was doing, even years after elementary school. She cared about kids and teachers and we were lucky to have her.

11. Paula Sehlhorst. My summer custodian boss. She worked in a position that most people take for granted, the school custodian. Former students came back and worked as summer custodians for years before they canceled that program. My brother and I had the pleasure of working for Paula at Krout Elementary. Paula taught me the fine details of making a school look the way it does. I never appreciated the work of a custodian until I worked as one. They put their absolute best into making a school look great for kids and teachers alike, just so we can mess it up. Paula showed me hard work that goes unnoticed isn't any less important.

12-22 to be continued...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Price of an opportunity

Tomorrow is a big day. Tuesday May 3rd is the day most people will be going to the polls to punch a ticket for local issues, most notably school levy's. The district Lins and I work in will be one such district. One of the largest districts in the area with 23+ schools, you would think we are pretty secure, but I'm not entirely sold. For the first time in my 29 years I have seen levy signs against the district levy. Vote No signs. Remove myself as a teacher of that district and I want to knock on their door and ask them to have a conversation with me. I want to ask them what their school experience was like growing up. Most likely they didn't deal with programs, sports, arts of all kind being cut. I want to make this clear, I am not writing this to sway votes by any means, in fact I was very worried thinking that this might rally support in a negative light. Then I remembered that I am not the Huffington Post and my 12 readers aren't exactly the Tea Party type.

I totally get someone that would vote no because of their economic standing. It's tough right now, I get that. I'm guessing there were people that had it tough when I was a kid, but they still voted yes for the annual increase in their property tax. I can't put a price value on how much I appreciate that. I am going to the polls tomorrow to vote yes for a levy for the district I currently live in. I have a decent amount of animosity toward that district, but I have more love for the experience those kids deserve. I'll gladly pay a little more in my yearly tax so they can have their music, art, theater, and sports. So young teachers that are willing to take chances and make connections with kids aren't being Rif'd. When I was their age I had families that voted yes for me so I could have that opportunity, I feel like this is a rare time of when I can pay it forward.

I guess tomorrow if the results come in as a loss I will be extremely upset. My wife has a chance of being cut from her position. I have good friends that are almost guaranteed out if it's a no vote majority. Good teachers that love kids and impact them each day. Honestly though, I'll be more upset for the kids. They will lose out on something that I and many others cherish so much. The opportunity to run out onto a field or court. The chance to sing a solo or play an instrument in front of a packed house. Take an art project to state and win or lose, but say you were there. Without operating funds, those opportunities are afterthoughts.

My wife is a tremendous teacher, one I admire very much because of her work ethic, she will land on her feet and find a job. My friends are all great finds, they will get snatched up very quickly. I can't say the same for the kids. Their experiences can't be picked up, they can't relive their freshman year of basketball. They can't ask for their senior season of football back. It's an experience that will stay with them the rest of their lives, but for the wrong reason.