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Archive for the ‘emotional’ Category

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.

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Ten minutes have passed since Richard Do walked out of our apartment for the last time in the foreseeable future. Kendall still has tears running down those rosy little cheeks.

It’s fascinating how friendship works. Those little things that you know you’ll never forget but don’t seem important until someone is gone. She just looked at me through the tears and said,

“I’m going to miss Richard.”

“I know,” I told her, trying to not let her crying get me to crying.

“Think of all the good times we had with him,” she said between high pitched ‘heep’ noises that she always makes when she cries. “He was always there grilling on Sundays…”

As her voice trailed off I couldn’t help but let my mind wander to the greater significance of the only memory she found mentionable in this emotional moment. It’s so strange the memories that we have of people who are gone to here, there or gone forever. Yet, somehow, often inexplicably, these memories tell us everything that we need to remember about this person that we need to know. As I thought of this my brain traveled to the Horseshoe, Northview High School, Evan’s Basement, Camp Kulaqua, Tallahassee, Houses all over Central Florida, and Lake Lily, these places all connected by the love others have shown me at different times in my life. Then, a brief moment of lucidity.

Why? Why would she mention the grilling?

It’s simple really. Richard Do finds many things important. His television, certain methods of cooking, hacking Wiis, disc golf, Ultimate, basketball, the Denver Broncos, Broadway Musical Theater, designated driving, everything electronic and many, many other things. However, the most important of all these, are his relationships with others.

Doodoo, as we lovingly know him, has spent his entire existence (or as much of it as I know) dedicating himself to others. Kendall recalled the perfect picture of it. A sunny, summer, Sunday afternoon at 7633 John Newcombe, as we all lounge about on the couches letting the time pass by watching a baseball game or talking about things desperately unimportant, he was in backyard. He was grilling, watching carefully until everything was just right, watching until the rest of the world manifested itself in a manner that would most please his friends.

Then he would walk in the back door and shout,

“It’s ready!”

Then he would stand grinning as we all filled our plates with meats of many kinds, a feeling of complete satisfaction washing over his face while maybe just a couple of us grunted a “thank you” out before stuffing our mouths with his latest bar-be-que rubbed chicken. He didn’t even need those couple of thanks though. Sure, they were nice, but his friends were happy. He was happy.

Tomorrow morning, one of the more selfless friends I have ever had moves away to Detroit, Michigan and it’s no secret that things won’t be the same without him. We have to continue on. The world waits for no sadness. There are still bowl games and NFL playoff games to watch, book clubs to be had, disc golf courses to be played, summer leagues to happen, grill outs to do. While the clich√© is perhaps a little much to handle, there’s a certain part of me that can’t help but say that Richard will be there “grilling on Sundays…”

These memories, in a certain sense, they mean nothing but in another sense, they mean everything.

Richard Do, we will miss you. Baton Rouge will not be the same. You may think that you have been changed for good but there’s no doubt that this state has been changed for good due to your presence. They don’t make many like you and I envy your Michigan friends. They certainly don’t know what’s coming for them.

 

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Occasionally, I have epiphanies. Generally they are random and make little to no sense to anyone but myself. Such as the epiphany of how marriage is based on the same idea as a zone defense in Ultimate frisbee. However, I generally feel a burning need to share them with someone… anyone. Since Kendall is out of town this weekend and preoccupied with more important things, this blog is left as my only audience when I have an idea that won’t let me sleep.

Tonight was a rough night at work. I made starkly less money than I, or any other server, is accustomed to on a Saturday night at our establishment. This can always weigh heavily on you but it seemed even worse since not a single person that had come through my three meager tables on this night had left unhappy. Everyone left with a smile on his/her face, having enjoyed each other’s and my company. Unfortunately, everyone was also leaving with his/her money still in his/her wallet. Leaving me little wiggle room for groceries this week.

This can be a degrading feeling as a person. There is a certain appeal to serving for me, the knowledge that I am getting rewarded for work that I have done is very exciting. On the flip side, equally and perhaps even moreso depressing for me is when I do the work but am not rewarded. As strange as it seems, since it’s only a dead end job, this can leave one struggling with feelings of self-worth.

“Was my time invested really only worth four dollars? Am I just not good enough for a bigger tip? Can I be so easily tread upon?”

Generally, when I’m struggling with these issues at work, I try to voice them in a funny way that will make everyone else laugh and get my mind off of the fact that I’m not quite sure how I’m going to pay for my oil change. This often involves hyperbole.

My weapon of choice tonight as I walked back into the cafe and was greeted by several other servers:

“Will someone please tell me something that makes it feel like my life was worth living tonight.”

Then my world was blown apart.

(more…)

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Moving Out West

Go westward young man!

Someone great once said that. I now repeat it here because that is what I’m preparing to do. After a brief (wink wink) stint with a newspaper in Brunswick, Ga. I am venturing on to bigger and better things.

It’s interesting the way that life goes. Things just rush up on you and before you even know it, everything has changed. I can still remember sitting in my parents kitchen talking with the Rimboyz before heading to Project Graduation right after we “finished” high school.

Just like it was yesterday.

Now, following a brief romp in the mud and a more than likely embarrassing USC football game in which the Gamecocks will inevitably play down to some inferior competition after a heartbreaking loss to the Georgia Bulldogs (at least I can count on some things right?), I’m leaving the Eastern Time Zone of my own free will. A strange feeling indeed.

No doubt I will miss those that I will not see as often. No doubt I will meet many folks in Louisiana that will make me wonder how I functioned without them for so long. For the time being though, my heart and thoughts rest heavily with those that I feel like I am leaving behind.

Sure, in this current world the distance from Baton Rouge to Atlanta, Columbia, Winston-Salem, Charleston, Athens, Aiken, Charlotte, Spartanburg, Chapel Hill, Savannah, Orlando, Jacksonville and places of the like is very small, a mere day’s drive or an hour flight seems miniscule. Nevertheless, the distance that I feel life has placed between Kendall and I and our friends who have other jobs, are still in school or are members of our own families is as vast as the gap between a South Carolina and a Clemson education.

For this reason, I dedicate to you, dear friend. This song, that has been sung by many a friend for many a generation:

Of all the money e’er I spent,
I spent it in good company.
And all the harm I’ve ever done,
Alas! it was to none but me.
And all I’ve done for want of wit
To mem’ry now I can’t recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all


Oh, all the comrades e’er I had,
They’re sorry for my going away,
And all the sweethearts e’er I had,
They’d wish me one more day to stay,
But since it falls unto my lot,
That I should go and you should not,
I gently rise and softly call,
Good night and joy be with you all.

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