I get honored for mostly not screwing up too badly …

April 9, 2017

I need to start off on a really terrible note, by informing those out there not in the know, that my old, old friend Beth (she’s not old, we’ve just known each other for a long time), lost her father this past week. He died four months to the day that she lost her mom.  Everyone goes through this differently, and I would never tell anyone “I know exactly how it feels” because I can’t, but I feel enough empathy for people who go through this to get a knot in my stomach when things like this happen.  Please keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

On slightly better news, my brother-in-law was elected by the good people of Willow Springs to be a Trustee and will sit on the Village Board.  This was his second attempt to get elected, and despite some really under-the-belt tactics by his opponents, he and his ticket made their point and won the day thanks to a large voter turnout.  This means I am now closely related to a genuine Cook County politician.  I’ve never felt closer to prison in my life … and many of you know my brother.

The week capped off for me down in Bloomington-Normal where the state scholastic bowl coaches association awarded me an award for being around and helping out.  I didn’t want this award.  I’ve not been very big into them for a long time.  I think they knew this so they made a very splashy public announcement about it before they told me figuring I wouldn’t want to make more of a fuss by turning it down then.  They were right.  I decided to make the best of it by turning my speech into a list of thank yous to people who I owed, and to yell at the assembled players to tell them to step up and do their part to continue improving the activity and competition.

It also helps to remind me that when people get awards and get speeches about all of the wonderful things they accomplished, they never talk about the things you screwed up.  I’ve been terrible at organizing tournaments … only one of the roughly five I ever hosted ever managed to run close to on time and without a major catastrophe occurring.  There was no mention of the times I made middle schoolers cry while officiating their tournaments (four times).  No mention of the terrible, horrible questions I’ve written that likely caused more than a few players to blow a gasket.  I think I have destroyed most of them.  No mention of the times I should have been more forceful to get something done, and didn’t, and the times I should have been more subtle to get things done and wasn’t.

Things like that put success in perspective.

One of the things I did have some hand in bringing about was ending a threatened limitation to our players playing at national tournaments, a privilege enjoyed in most other states.  This did help expose our players to top notch competition, and helped to improve our top teams, which in turn helped improve some of our other teams.  It helped immensely to punctuate this point that as we were meeting and giving speeches, the collegiate nationals were taking place, in which a number of former Illinois high school players were having exceptional tournaments, helping to guide their teams to top finishes, all while three of our best high school teams were competing in Texas at a pre-nationals tournament, and taking three of the top five places.

I can’t claim a lot of credit … but I will claim a small slice of the cake for helping that to happen.