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So two of the three years that this blog has existed, I have come to this space around this time of year to make promises and commitments that I have completely failed to stand upon. Like this one. Or this one. In case you aren’t interested in clicking the links, you’ll most likely be unsurprised to find out that the promises that I’ve failed to keep are most specifically about how often I will write here.

Well, nevermore shall this be the case. This year is the year. I’m not going to fall into the same traps and pitfalls that I’ve fallen into in the past. I have learned from past mistakes and I know now how to be more true to myself and my goals. I think that I’ve written here before about how important writing is to me. Throughout my junior year of high school and on through my freshman year of college I meticulously kept a journal. It’s not rare for me to scan back through those entries and writings and enjoy a fresh insight into myself from years past. At this stage in our lives, I truly believe that I owe that to Kendall and my future selves.

So here goes, without further ado, my 2014 New Year’s Resolutions, in a very particular order: Continue Reading »

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As most of you are probably aware, last year was my first year of teaching. It was, more or less, all it was cracked up to be. I don’t think there are many people who haven’t, at some point, been lectured on just how difficult being a first year teacher really is. I’m living proof that everything you’ve heard isn’t wrong. It was a long, tough year with a lot of road bumps and difficult moments. Certainly, my situation was far more favorable than most first year teaching positions but it did not lack for its difficult moments.

That’s part of the reason why I was so excited for this year to begin. As a second year teacher, I’m finding myself with buckets of time that I never thought I would have as a teacher. Lessons are planned, tests are written, grading comes easier. All of this leads to me, firstly, being able to spend more time with Kendall and, secondly, being able to become more involved in the school community.

By the end of the spring semester of last year, I had weaseled my way into the basketball coach friend circle. I maintain some space there and that lends itself to some opportunities that plenty of teachers might not ever hear about. For instance, when a new rule was passed that required coaches to not play during open gym, the head basketball coach strongly suggested that I start coming out in order to give another adult presence on the floor. If you know me, you know I jumped at the opportunity.

Likewise, when the regular PA announcer was unavailable for one of the preseason basketball games, I was an obvious choice. Having played open gym with the team for several weeks, I knew everyone’s names and I enjoyed going to the games in any case, if not to support the school and the students, then to support my friends in their coaching endeavors.

Once again, if you know me, you know that I didn’t really feel like shying from the attention that a PA announcer can receive and I thoroughly enjoyed my time behind the mic. So, when I got a text from the teacher who usually does the announcing letting me know that he might have to skip tonight’s game, I was quick to offer my services.

What a solid choice that was as I was treated to quite the entertaining game.

It’s a small thing really, at the end of the day most people probably wouldn’t even notice if the PA had an announcer or not, but I can’t help but feel like it’s just one more thing that is helping me wedge my way into the school community. And, by the way, if there ever was a school with a “community” it’s the one that I’m currently teaching at. I think that the students I have that see me at the games are able to see a side of me that doesn’t come out in the classroom and the ones that don’t already know me are getting an opportunity to realize that there is just one more friendly face in the hall.

I suppose I’m saying all of this to say, I’m very grateful for where I am in my career. The newness of being a part of this school hasn’t even come close to wearing off and I am being presented with more and more opportunities everyday to become a part of an important community in many peoples’ lives.

Also, if anyone ever makes three shots in a row without the opposing team scoring. You can bet the farm that you’ll hear my voice amplified over an entire gymnasium letting people know that “HE’S ON FIRE!!!”

Our … Friends

New Year's Eve

Here are some faces that, if you know us, you may not have seen in awhile… or ever. These are our … Friends.

We spent New Year’s Even in Tampa (a fine meeting place if you’re trying to see the Gamecocks play football) with some old friends from Baton Rouge. The above group of people, Gopal, Richard, Elise, Mark, Dickson, Kendall and I (plus a few more) spent more or less every weekend together while we all lived in the same area code. However, we were slowly but surely separated by time and professional obligations; Dickson and Elise moved to Naples, Richard (whom you may remember from earlier in this space) to Detroit, Gopal and Mark to Findlay.

When we saw everyone this last weekend, it was the first time that we had spent time together, as anything resembling the whole group of us, in well over a year. It was very early into the two days together that things were returning entirely to normal as DooDoo played wingman to Gopal, Dickson and Gopal argued about USC/UGA, Elise and Kendall squealed and danced to terrible pop songs (I totally didn’t though), and Mark made jokes about the guys “parashatting” into the stadium.

When I talked to my Dad about the weekend, I started to say, “It was great to see all the ____________ friends again.” Then I came to the realization that I couldn’t fill in the blank. We are at a point in our lives where friends now defy labels. So far, we’ve had our high school friends, our college friends, our Ultimate friends and so on and so forth. It seems that everyone has had a reason to be your friend. Once you escape all of those seemingly predetermined destinations in life, your friends become just that, your friends.

So, while I think that some part of me will still seek to define who these people are to me, I can be sure of one thing: these are my … Friends and just as much as they are undefined so is this stage in life. I sure am glad that they’re around for us to walk through these undefined 20-something time.

Outback Bowl

Mckinley Frisbee

We were home for the holidays this year and, while I’m not going to take the time now to tell you about it, man did we have some fun. The holidays are only relevant insofar as they lead to a fantastic segué for what I’m hoping to write about for this entry.

We get three Christmases when we start in Atlanta on Christmas morning.

From about 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. we do things the traditional Aguilar way. We open presents one-at-a-time as they are handed out by my father. It takes quite some time but the pace of it can be nice. You get to watch each individual reaction so you don’t miss the small moments (like when Sie Deen doesn’t realize that a playbill to a Broadway play means that she and James are going to see the play… ON BROADWAY).

Then we drive to Lugoff, S.C. and do Christmas the Williamson Sr. way. The entire extended family gathers into the living room of Grandma and Grandpa Williamson and everyone opens presents from the Grandparents and the Grandparents open presents from everyone. It creates this fantastic atmosphere of glee as 20+ people rip open gifts and then those 20+ people enter this chaotic merry-go-round of trying to see just what everyone got in the small space of 30 minutes.

Finally, after gorging on Christmas lunch, we head back to Aiken, where everyone else has already examined their “piles” yet done the favor of leaving them, more or less, where they were found for our viewing pleasure. All that’s left to do after we arrive is to watch Mom and Dad open their presents from the kids. It’s an overwhelming aura of Christmas joy and spirit that, quite frankly, is more and more stunning upon every viewing.

One common thread throughout the entire experience is the character that I’m dubbing Guilty Patriarch.

At each and every familial stop, the relative patriarchs lament many of the gifts they receive as too extravagant, too much, too expensive, too unnecessary. It’s an endearing sight because these men are in every circumstance, monetarily at any rate, the sole reason Christmas stands the way it does in every house. Yet, all four of them (both Fathers and both Grandfathers) feel that they deserve the least of all those present.

It’s hard to understand growing up and even as a young man. That is until you finally receive that gift that you really don’t feel like you deserve or need and the only reason you finally come to terms with accepting it is that your loved ones convince you that it’s the right thing for you. Such was the case this year as I unwrapped a brand new laptop from Kendall.

I was overwhelmed with guilt immediately and began considering just how much that hunk of metal cost and whether or not I really needed or deserved it. What else could we buy with that money? What kind of trip could I take her on? Those questions and more plagued my mind and led to a not-so-desirable reaction of, “You really shouldn’t have!”

Nonetheless, Kendall convinced me that I deserved it and here I am typing this entry on that all-too-expensive hunk of metal. I’ve reconciled that if I’m going to let her spend this much money on me, I’m going to make good use of it. So, while my 6 year old lap top was a little too worn down to handle all the videos and pictures that I would have otherwise wanted to include in blog posts like this one, I’m dedicating myself to not only writing more but making it visually appealing and engaging. If I don’t… Man, will I feel guilty.

This leads to an entirely different side of being a father that I feel, mostly jokingly, that I recently experienced. That is the Proud Father. You know, the guy in Leave it to Beaver who sits in the stands and shouts, “That’s my boy! That’s my son out there!” The father who parades his children’s drawings around as if they are a thousand Van Goghs just waiting for the auctioneer to come take them away. That was me on our back deck this afternoon.

You may or may not know (you certainly didn’t read about it on this blog) that Kendall and I just had a huge life experience in the purchase of our first dog, McKinley. There’s plenty that we can discuss on that general subject at a later time. However, McKinley had a big moment in her life as she played fetch with a frisbee successfully for the first time. Now, to many, this may seem like a natural course of action in a dog’s life and that may actually be the case but when the frisbee is as important to you as it is to this family, it’s a moment worth documenting.

So, without further adieu, I present McKinley’s First Frisbee Fetch!

On a desperately awkward sidenote, it’s become readily apparent to me that I’ve lost the writing touch in my absence from the blogging world. I apologize for the dry state of this piece and I can only hope and pray that, from this moment forward, things will liven up a little bit.

We’re getting so close!  Here’s a video of the house that we’re in the process of buying!  We close on June 28th!

It’s a long video, so unless you have 8 minutes to spare, just skip to 6 minutes in the video to see the important stuff!  🙂

I’ve been gone for awhile and it may come as no surprise to those of you who know me that I’m returning for a post centered around Ultimate.

This weekend was the 2012 USAU Atlantic Coast Regional tournament. My former teammates from South Carolina were going into the tournament seeded first.

Like a lot of other USC sports, Ultimate has kind of wallowed in mediocrity for a long time. Typically being the team that, if it has its best game, can beat anyone and, if it has its worst game, can lose to anyone.

This year was different. This year was the senior year of the rookie class of 2009. This rookie class, my rookie class, was better than any class to come before it, by leaps and bounds. Of course, I was doing very little to contribute to the overall talent of the class as I have long since graduated and moved on to different things.

The program was on the up and up, proven by high finishes at big tournaments, tournaments that my good friend Devin Waldrop couldn’t have imagined finishing high at.

“We couldn’t even get in to Terminus my sophomore year,” Devin told me.

After Regionals comes Nationals. Only one team from the Atlantic Coast was going to get a bid. It was still a long shot for USC to make it to the next round, but they had a better chance than any iteration of the team before them. Alumni were rolling in to cheer them on at Regionals, hopes were set high, Kendall and I were talking about doing our anniversary weekend (the same weekend at Nationals) in Estes Park, CO.

To make the long part of this longer story short, the Gamecocks lost in quarterfinals to a team that was ranked lower than them by a long shot. By all accounts, they should have waltzed to finals based on their schedule. There, they would have met one of the two teams that could have actually challenged them for the Nationals bid.

I was crushed. I was crushed not for me but for those guys that I put a season in with. I was crushed because I knew, just from speaking to them, that they felt like they had the hopes and dreams of years and years of Gamecock Ultimate alums riding on their backs and they fell short. Fell short not just of other people’s expectations but their own. Fell short of dreams, desires and destinies.

So, I asked myself, what do you say to these guys?

Knowing that what I’m about to say has the sounds of arrogance clanging off of it like drunk guys clang off the hottest girl in the bar at closing time, I feel like I’ve become something of a role model to a lot of these guys. I was older than all of them when we first met. I “have my life together.” I’ve got a loving wife. I love my job. I LOVE to have a great time. I often times feel that a number of those guys that were a part of the rookie class of 2009 look at me and hope to end up where I am in 4 years.

Of course, I’m not the only one. The number of Gamecock alums that are worthy of being role models and are actively role models to these kids is ridiculous, especially when contrasted with a number of other programs that I’ve been around.

However, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of paternal instincts when the result was final. I couldn’t help but feel an urge to reach, give every player a big hug and tell them, “You made me proud this season.”

I knew they didn’t want to hear that though. I knew that they were devastated. I texted my friend Kevin, who was at the tournament, and asked him to convey those exact thoughts to our friends. He responded:

“I’m trying. Too soon at the moment.”

So there I was, 900 miles away, knowing that there was nothing I could do, nothing I could say, especially from so far away, that would ease what each of those players was going through.

So I did nothing and said nothing.

But later in the day I couldn’t help but feel like I should say something and I should do something. There was a part of me that felt that some of those guys were expecting to hear from me. So I got on Facebook when I got home from playing some Ultimate of my own today. I was hoping to become inspired and leave a message of hope and pride that would help everyone move on from something so disappointing.

This is what I found:

I had to laugh at myself.

Here I was, in Baton Rouge, thinking that it was my role, my “responsibility,” to say something to make these guys, who I looked at as younger brothers if not sons, feel better about their season.

The reality of the matter was they didn’t need me. The beauty of the last four years is that I’ve seen these guys mature from being 18 year old parts of my rookie class into being young men leading other young men. They didn’t need me to tell them that they had accomplished something special. Each and every one of them already knew it. That something special wasn’t where they placed in the section, region or even the country. That something special was what they had built with each other. Something that, as a member of the team, I knew no other team had and that I see now no other team has.

So, instead of feeling inadequate, I logged off of Facebook and on to here to say that, I don’t need to say anything.

If any younger Gamecock Ultimate players read this, don’t ever listen to anyone if they tell you that Aguilar, Lamp, Kevin, Devin or Sans truly knows Ultimate. Listen to Andy, Chuck, Van Thiel, Kenny, Marshall, Chris Wilson, or Jacob because they truly know Ultimate. If any older Gamecock Ultimate players read this, I can only pay you and your season the highest compliment I know how to pay it:

You practiced, prepared, played, competed, won and lost this season like Gamecock Ultimate. You are Gamecock Ultimate. You will forever be Gamecock Ultimate.

I can’t wait to throw with you soon.

Good night and joy be with you all.

Yes, I think we need to go ahead and admit it, my family has a sick obsession with our dogs.  We are one of those crazy families whose life revolves around our furry friends.  We love the dogs just as much as we love the humans in the family (ok, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but it’s pretty close).  I know for me, when I get a chance to come home, I get pretty darn excited about seeing those dogs.  Half of Kirby’s Facebook albums are made up of only pictures of the dogs.  They have started making regular appearances in the famous Williamson family Christmas card.  My dad tried desperately to convince Michael and I to use the older two dogs as our ring bearer and flower girl in our wedding.  So, what is it about dogs, and these two three dogs in particular, that are just so loveable?  Allow me to introduce you to Tucker, Dexter, and Polo!

Tucker

We had a black lab named Buck growing up as kids.  We got him when Trey and I were very young and he was our family’s protector, the kids’ playmate, and Dad’s best friend until he died in 2002.  For the next six years, we begged and pleaded with our parents for a new puppy all the time.  Every Christmas, we all hoped to wake up to find a little black puppy with a big red bow around his neck under the tree (or maybe that was just me?!?).  Mom and Dad finally caved in (or should I say just Mom caved) in 2008 and, on a complete whim, came home with little Tucker.

sweet baby Tucker!

The family fell in love instantly, especially Dad.  Tucker is a very sweet, smart, and calm dog.  He’s the one you go to to cuddle with.  And he LOVES his papa and running.   Since getting the other two pups, Tucker has turned into a bit of a old man grouch at times, but we still love him so much!  He is easily annoyed by the other pups’ antics/stupidity.

Dexter

We got Dexter about a year after Tucker as a surprise birthday present for Dad.  There’s only one word to describe Dexter: dumb.  Bless his heart, he’s just so stupid.  But, we love him for it.  He never really learned all the tricks like Tucker and most of the time when you look at him he’s just got a stupid blank stare on his face.  Seems like he never really knows what’s going on.  But he’s really the sweetest, most loving dog.  He gets really excited about anything that Tucker does. He also loves his papa very much and running and swimming.  You can throw a stick out in the water for days and he’ll go get it every time. 

Sweet stupid pup

blank stare...there's nothing inside that pretty little head!

 

Polo 

Polo is the newest addition to the Williamson family.  Sadly, I haven’t gotten to know Polo too well.  He came home just before Christmas in 2012.  He’s a beautiful little chocolate baby, and is growing up way too fast.   Somehow the family thought that letting Dexter reproduce was a good idea.  Polo is a result of that, but so far he seems to have turned out alright.  We’ll see…it may be too early to tell.  For now, he’s just a crazy, playful pup wreaking havoc on the Williamson house.

little baby Polo!

Kirby made this...I think it perfectly describes how we feel about these dogs!

Maybe (hopefully) soon Michael and I will get a dog to “make our lives whole”…am I right, Michael?!?!  😉