First of all Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and any other father figures in your life. It’s a day where we give out funny cards that we can find, buy them something nice and try not to annoy them while they watch the matinee baseball game and(hopefully) the end of the US Open.
But one thing that tends to go overlooked, in my case at least, is the thanks that we give our dads for opening us up to the world of sports. As I sit here at 19 years old, spitting out blogs and constantly checking ESPN.com for the latest updates, I do not want this thanks to go unnoticed anymore.
As a child, I can remember always having sports in my life. With a dad that was as passionate about sports as anyone I knew, and an athletic brother two years older than me, I had no other choice. I would always have some kind of ball in my hand and, any chance I could, would watch whatever game was on with my dad.
I can remember playing basketball out in my driveway, acting as both teams in the game and playing all the way to 100. When my dad got home, he was the first one to ask how the game went and if the team he liked more won.
Some of my favorite memories came from playing catch out in the street with my dad, where he would make grounders tough on me and fly balls even harder.
One specific memory I have of playing catch was when my dad drifted me over towards the fire hydrant to see if I would still go for the catch. Well, one bruised knee later and a few tears shed, I had caught the ball and the inning was over.
As for football in the street, when we weren’t playing catch he was punting the ball to me and having me work on my returning. One fateful day, for him, he told me that if I caught the next punt that I would get ice cream for a year in 2011.
He put as much muscle into it as any other punt as it headed for the bushes in front of our house, which at the time were taller than me. After a dive into the thorny bushes, that probably wasn’t worth the ice cream, I came out holding the football in what has become an awesome memory for me and my dad.
Rounding out the driveway sports was our awesome games of H.O.R.S.E or one-on-one matchups in basketball. I will go to my grave saying that Tim Duncan learned his trademark bank shot from my father, which usually gave him a quick “H-O” to nothing start in games.
When we would play against each other, I would always drive in on him and make contact to try to score my points. He taught me to never shy away from contact when going to the hoop because,more likely than not, it would draw a foul or the defender would get out of the way.
He explained how if I faded away from contact to try to get a clean shot off that I would never get any calls. Years later, I would lead my CYO team to a City Championship where I led the team in getting to the free throw line.
As a player, my dad was always my biggest fan and my biggest critic. Not to say that him being a critic was a bad thing, but he always told me what I could do better and how to do that.
As a father of myself and my three brothers, my dad has coached more baseball and basketball teams than he can probably count. Every year and every team that he coached, he acted as the third base coach for the team. Being small but fast, my dad perfected the art of the bunt for me and made it something I would do often at the plate.
As a travel baseball coach, my dad probably spent more time in car rides to Wisconsin for tournaments than he did driving to work. As a baseball player, my dad and I went to tournaments in Cooperstown, Disney World, and just about every Wisconsin town there is.
As I mentioned before, there was always a TV or radio on in my house with a game on. My dad, a die-hard fan of the Packers and Brewers, instilled the importance of loyalty to me. Being a Packers fan in the 80’s will do that to a man.
More importantly was the way that my dad involved me in sports trips to Wisconsin. He very easily could have brought a friend or co-worker to a Packers game, but instead took his sons and tailgated, bought us souvenirs in the pro shop, and an endless supply of hot chocolate for December Packers games. When the Green and Gold were out of town, Overtime Sports Bar and Grill was always the destination after church on Sunday.
As I moved into college at Marquette University, my dad still took me to Brewers games that were just a few minutes away from campus, and also picked me up on the way to Lambeau. It was then that my dad started a whole new “era” of helping me out in my love of sports.
When I started my blog online, I really did not expect it to grow into something as big as what it has. I have tried to post something every day instead of posting a couple of times on the Marquette basketball team once in a while. Just like he did in the driveway, in the third base coaching box, in section 125, row 25 at Lambeau Field, my dad was right there next to me as my biggest fan.
I could come to him with ideas, opinions, and statistics to see what he thought of them all. From there, I used those talks, sometimes arguments, that we had and turned them into blog posts that have been read by over 40,000 fans. None of what I post on my blog would be possible without 19 years of support from my biggest fan, my dad.
Last year, I sat in on Steve “Homer” True’s ESPN radio show in Milwaukee to get a feel for what a studio was like. I took away a lot from the experience, but the main thing he put in my head was that nothing I do in the sports world will be possible without passion.
Looking back on everything I have done in my life involving sports, I owe it all to my dad for giving me that passion to make me my best at everything I do and cheering me along the whole time.
He gives me a roof to sleep under, a chance to go to college and earn a degree, endless laughs on jokes, and the instruction manual on how to be an awesome dad.
But even more than all those things, the memories of sports I will have with my dad mean more to me than anything, and something I will keep with me forever. Thanks, dad.