Thursday, August 30, 2012

Meet My Man ... Super Fan!

As I sit here writing it is the eve of another Wilson High School football season. Three a days in the brutal heat of August are over, game plans have been committed to memory, helmets are polished, and the red & white uniforms (clean for now) are ready to be donned.

With their heartbreaking title loss at Hershey last December (to Central Dauphin who one game later would be crowned state champs) in the rear view mirror, expectations are high for what this new year may bring. Players and coaches, their family and friends, are all hoping for another successful season. 

My husband is perhaps the biggest Bulldog fan EVER. Seriously. He never misses a game, whether it's being played in hurricane like conditions or frigid cold temperatures, and is a regular fixture in the bleachers at camp and practices.

Chris has said repeatedly through the years that he would rather see these kids win a state championship than to have the Eagles, Phillies, and 76ers all win their respective world titles.When people take notice of Chris at games, both home and far away, he is often asked "Which one is your son?" His reply? "All of them."

He is an alumnus of Wilson and even played himself for awhile ,"Back in the day," but it was a promise made to a dying friend in 2000, that rekindled his passion for their program.

The tale was a tragic one that took a young man's life too soon, and left his widow with six children to raise on her own. Chris vowed he would be there to provide moral support, however he could. Once a month he would take all six out to dinner and he'd call to check in on them, but the biggest part was attending the kids athletic events so they'd always have someone there watching them.

Along the way he got to know a few other kids on the team and their stories as well. This past June the youngest son graduated and while Chris could have been relieved of his "duties" he has decided to stick around. Other players, in turns out, were in need of mentoring and when someone seeks him out (as they have) my husband is not the kind of person to turn them away.

Whether it's listening to concerns, patting someone on the back who's done a great job, giving advice above and beyond football, or passing out his famous homemade beef jerky after games, Chris supports the entire team.

There are a lot of "haters" when it comes to Wilson. They repeatedly win district titles and it's easy to dislike the ones on top. But what many people in our area don't realize is that this winning team has had it's share of underdogs on it.

Kids who weren't born with silver spoons in their mouths or solid families to be there to support them. Kids who even with the odds stacked against them, found the drive and determination  to overcome adversity, both on and of the field. Kids who through the discipline of football have found themselves.

It's amazing to watch the Bulldogs' journey. Whether it's the sweetness of victory, or bitter taste of defeat, their character shines through.  They are all stand up young men who play together as one team and one family. I'm proud of my husband and his small contribution to Wilson football and happy to be along for the ride.


Monday, August 27, 2012

It's the Beginning of the End of an Era ...

The days of summer are dwindling down as this morning marked the start of yet another school year. Unlike previous years, where we drift through on auto pilot, this one will be imprinted with several "firsts" and "lasts" that will make us pause and marvel at just how far our kids have come.

Whether it's Christie getting her driver's license and being able to drive herself (and her brother) to school, Jordan starting his last year in middle school, or Kyrie moving out of a dorm and into her first apartment on campus, change is a recurring theme.

Perhaps the thing that outshines the others is that with the commencement of class at 12:30 this afternoon - Kyrie's senior year at college officially began. My how the time has flown.

Memories of Kyrie's first days at school are all tucked safely away in my mind. I wish I had a time machine to travel back and revisit that happy little brown haired girl who was so nervous for first grade, but beyond excited for the "back to school chocolate chip cookies and milk" I promised her when she got home. (That tradition continues with Christie and Jordan to this day!)

Moving forward through the years I reminisce about the hours upon hours devoted to activities. Brownies, gymnastics, ice skating, cheerleading (while I coached) for Rising Sun, and eventually cheering in junior high at Northeast and then Wilson Southern. Chorus and theater which in high school led to a major involvement with Wilson Theater Company. And of course the only thing that would rival her love of theater ... a profound passion for football. Nothing made Kyrie happier than getting to be a manager of the Wilson varsity football team. Spending Friday night under the lights, taking care of "her boys," was probably the highlight Kyrie's time in high school.

All too quickly senior year came and went. Before we knew it it was prom and graduation, complete with a red and white (a nod to Wilson colors) themed graduation party. The hoopla climaxed two weeks later as she and I traveled with Wilson Theater Company to London and Paris. I knew she was going away so I tried to make the most of our time left together.

Kyrie was accepted to one of the top private liberal arts schools in the country, Muhlenberg College, just shy of an hour drive north of us in Allentown. Move in day for freshman year though she might as well been in Siberia. I tried to keep the tears at bay as Chris and I shuffled things into her dorm but by the time we attended the parents/students lunch, I was losing the battle. In a half hour we'd have to leave. Tears stung my eyes as I picked at the sandwich in front of me. How was I supposed to eat when my appetite was nowhere to be found?

Our good-bye went well, but on the ride home, as we moved further along the highway, giant tear drops rolled down my cheeks. Silly as it seems now my biggest issue was that freshman students couldn't have a vehicle on campus and it felt like we were abandoning her there. My husband thought it was funny. Hahaha.

Sophomore year move in was a piece of cake and these last two years I wasn't even there! Trading in her Bull Dogs for the Muhls, Kyrie found herself football managing again, so she moved in before training camp, while I was still in DE with Christie.

This year my daughter is INCREDIBLY excited about the apartment she's sharing with her good friend, Bailey. So much so she called me last night to let me know they had their first party, complete with Brie and wine - not some frat house blow out - and everyone had a great time and said how good everything was. Seeing as my cousin Marcy and I are known as the ultimate party planners that doesn't surprise me.

Kyrie will graduate a double major, with degrees in Film and English. Her hard work continues to pay off and even with the blow of Pappy's death she still made the Dean's List last semester.

There will never be this kind of start and finish again for our Kiki. Even if she winds up going for her Masters  this is still the end of an era. Her dad and I couldn't possibly be more proud of what she has accomplished, not to mention all the lives that she has touched along the way.

Kyrie may you have a Happy, Healthy, and Most AMAZING Senior year! :)