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Blog Archives

Nothing New(ton) about this tired schtick

Hey NFL, what the hell is going on out here?

A reunion of champions

The oldest alumnae on the court

‘Twas 12 days before Christmas

Hooping it up with the nieces

We spent a splendid week on the hard courts, watching our nieces own the game of basketball.

From our perch on bleachers throughout Wisconsin and Illinois, we saw a couple of blowouts and a genuine nail-biter involving a ref mandated wholesale uniform change, the likes of which we’d never seen before.

Through our nieces we could trace the sport’s evolution — from a loosely called fourth grade barn burner in a tiny Catholic grade school gym , to an in sync prep game in one of Wisconsin’s largest high schools, to a fast-paced game in an NCAA Division 1 auditorium.

Proportional to the athletes, the intensity level didn’t vary. They may have traveled a time or two and needed repeated instructions to line up properly to defend a free throw, but the St. Josephat Hawks played hard. We sat on the edges of our folding chairs cheering for our niece Erin, until her teammate, a little girl named Elizabeth, sank a shot at the buzzer for a thrilling 10-8 victory.

It’s no coincidence that our niece Rachel has been on championship basketball teams since she first picked up a basketball. A gifted athlete with an easy-going personality, she combines natural strength with a smooth style. Her eighth grade team won the state championship; she and the other four starters on that team all play on this year’s Sun Prairie High School squad. The night we saw them play, the Cardinals won 61-33.

I’m pretty sure our niece Shakeela Fowler was the best athlete in the McGrath-Phillips Arena, and that includes the members of the DePaul men’s basketball team who also came to watch the Blue Devils play Illinois State Saturday night. Nowhere near as tall as her 5-3 listed height, Shakeela fired no-look passes like a speedy Brett Favre, finding players who never even knew they were open. Though her program is rebuilding (DePaul won 89-41), Shakeela played with sophistication and class.

We’re going to enjoy following the Hawks, the Cardinals and the Red Birds this season. Fowl coincidence? I think not. They’re all going to soar.

Rachel jump shot

I intend to go to several Sun Prairie games this winter so I thought I’d lay a little low at the first one. I didn’t bring my camera. Fortunately for me, the Sun Prairie Star featured this great shot of Rachel taking a jump shot (she gets air!) in an earlier game.

erin in blue

I’m including this blurry cellphone shot of my niece Erin warming up so you can note the uniforms. A few minutes into the first quarter, the refs asked the St. Josephat players to change their blue uniforms to the home whites. So, the whole team ran off the court, accidentally landed in the boys locker room, let loose a hearty scream, ran out of the boys locker room and into the girls, changed to the home whites, and sprinted back to the court to resume play. 

Erin Free throw

I like Erin’s expression in this shot as she waits to rebound the free throw.

Erin rebound

I also like that she’s the only one going after the ball following the shot. 

Erin and me post ga

Post game.

Shakeela

As I’ve noted, Shakeela is an outstanding athlete.

Shakeela size

I took this shot to note the size difference. It cracks me up. 

Kathy Keith Traveian and the mascot

My sister Kathy, her husband Keith and his son Traveain took some grief from the Depaul Blue Demon.

Shakeela fan club

The smallest player had the biggest fan club. It was fun to see Erin watch Shakeela play. 

 

One more moment in time

Walk a mile in John Henson’s shoes

Five reasons I’m no Cubs fan

I served (dinner to) Cubs fans. I know Cubs fans. Cubs fans are friends of mine. I’m no Cubs fan.

I realized this a dozen years ago when I attended my first game at Wrigley Field almost exactly, to the day, 12 years ago.

Why so specific with the date you ask?

Because my first and so far last game at Wrigley turned out to be the infamous Steve Bartman game.

I’m no Cubs fan because the shocking collapse of that team disappointed but did not devastate me. As a Packer fan, I walked out of that deathly silent stadium with a deep sense of empathy.  In fact, three months later, I witnessed the famous fourth and 26 collapse of my own beloved team. I knew some of what those Cub fans were feeling.

But, come on! The Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908. They haven’t even played in one since 1945.

Still, Cubs fans remain some of the most loyal sports fans in the world. The Cubs, despite their lack of hardware, are among the top five teams in gross earnings.

Here are five reasons I am no Cubs fan, but I wish I were…

1) Billy Sianis. In 1934 a baby goat fell off a truck in front of Mr. Sianis’ tavern and the rest is cool Cubs history. Billy adopted that baby goat, named his bar after it and took great offense when he was asked to leave a World Series game at Wrigley because his goat’s stench annoyed fans. Reportedly, Mr. Sianis said, “Them Cubs, they aren’t gonna win no more.” And, because they still haven’t, the Curse of the Billy Goat remains. An 81-year old curse based on a smelly kid? That’s impressive.

2) Wrigley Field. Built in 1914 and named after a chewing gum magnate (double your pleasure, double your fun), the stadium is the second oldest active major league park. What fan wouldn’t want a season ticket in a place called the Friendly Confines? I also love the fight for tradition. Wrigley Field held out until 1988 before it allowed lights. Day games feel like vacation (because, mostly, they are.) I love that Cubs management eschewed the monetary lure of lights as long as it did.

3) Eamus Catuli! It’s the closest Latin equivalent of the phrase “Let’s Go Cubs.” The Lakeview Baseball Club came up with the phrase, along with Anno Catuli, which roughly translates to “In the Year of the Cubs”. Along with these two literally lofty phrases, the club keeps a running count of the number of years since the Cubs won a division championship (7), a pennant (70) and a World Series (107).

4) Bleacher seats. There’s something wholesome about a fan base that reveres its planks. Wrigley Field bleacher seats are general admission during the regular season, and range in price from as little as $19.  I also like this warning on the Cubs website: The Bleachers aren’t the best seats to take a family with children, as the language and fan behavior can become obnoxious. If you want a quiet atmosphere, the Bleachers are not for you.

5) Mascot. They don’t have one. Until January 23, they didn’t need one. They had Ernie Banks, Mr. Sunshine, the first player to have his jersey retired by the Cubs. When it came time to select a player to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch of Monday’s pivotal game, the Cubs went with Mr. Cub. They played a video of Ernie Banks who, by the way, had a sweet voice along with a legendary baseball career. Rest in peace, Mr. Banks. I think this may be your Cubbies’ year.

I’m no Cubs fan because I haven’t yet earned the right. But I cheered for them last night and I really hope they win it all. Go Cubs! #FlytheW

We posed at our seats before the infamous Steve Bartman game began. We had know idea we were about to witness Cubs lore.

We posed at our seats before the infamous Steve Bartman game began. We had no idea we were about to witness Cubs lore.

NiteLite Run 2015: We glowed (and then we sweated)