Some People You Are Related To By Blood And…

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I come from a big family and growing up we were together all of the time.  Our gatherings were mostly, if not all, family.  I didn’t notice that because there were so darn many of us.  I don’t remember a birthday party with my friends although I used to go to their parties and think it amazing their cousins weren’t there.

When I met my husband one of the first things we realized is how similar our families were including both having an Uncle Angelo.  He has similar memories of growing up with his cousins but there was one thing exclusive to his family.  You did not have to be actually related to be given the honor of being called uncle, aunt or cousin.

Simply being an old family friend usually gave you that distinction.  My mother-in-law’s neighbor growing up is Aunt Betty.  They grew up together and have stayed close to this day.  Mom still drives Aunt Betty to the grocery store and for hair appointments.  This relationship has thrived for nearly 80 years.  It is no wonder that she is an “aunt” and her children are “cousins.” 

When I first met them it took some getting used to…how are you related to Aunt Dot?  She lives upstairs?  So how is she your aunt?  Is Addison your uncle because his cousin lives upstairs?  It made no sense to me.  My husband’s family is not only a melting pot of relatives but of family friends.

We have “adopted” this way of life and our son’s family is huge! Our college friends are “aunts” and “uncles” and their children are Anthony’s “cousins.”   Our neighbor’s grandchildren call us aunt and uncle and my husband is a Godfather to the eldest.  We have many Godchildren who call us aunt and uncle.

Uncle Charlie is one of my husband’s best friends from high school.  He is a dentist and did our son’s braces.  One day when he was 7 or 8 he was talking to his best buddy in the neighborhood telling him he had to go to Uncle Charlie’s to have his braces adjusted.  When he asked how we were related, Anthony said that he was his father’s friend.   His pal did not believe that was a relationship but Anthony patiently explained that some people you are related to by blood and some people you are related to by love.

My friend Denise, a college hall mate, and her husband Gerry are hosting our family for Thanksgiving today.  Anthony loves Aunt Denise and her youngest son is our Godchild.  Their family table becomes our family table because we are related by love.

Happy Thanksgiving!  

Life is good!

Jude

Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta

AthleticBudgetCoach.com

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That One Flight Segment Home

While I know that today is the busiest travel day of the year and TSA rules are causing a political and practical stir, you cannot underestimate the power of one…one flight segment.

When we had the “college talk” years ago we instituted very few rules about schools.  The one I was very firm about was the “one flight segment” rule.  This was the one where we wanted him to select a school no further than one airport you can get to without a plane change.  From Buffalo that did not limit him very much.  It only took California off of the radar. 

He can get to New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Baltimore/DC in one easy flight.  Ironically, Fairfield (50 miles from NYC) takes almost as long to drive as it does to fly when you consider getting to the airport, parking and pat down.

When our son was a freshman we made his Thanksgiving flight before school even started.  It seemed like a good idea at the time but we ended up giving up his return flight because he needed to get back for swim practice.  Still, I do not regret that because it was far less expensive in August than it would have been in the fall.

When his roommate from Sacramento, CA became ill several years ago it brought the distance issue much closer.  His mother needed to make arrangements to fly to Connecticut and could not get there for almost 24 hours.  They think we’re crazy until something like that happens.

Here’s to those freshman parents who are welcoming their children home for the first time since their college adventure began…and to the rest of us who are happy to have a full house, even if it is only for a few days!

Life is good!

Jude

Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta

AthleticBudgetCoach.com

15 Hour Drive for 2 Minutes and 10 Seconds

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It’s true. We are THOSE parents and darn proud of it!

I have always been fascinated by the parents of student athletes and now that I am one of them I understand so much more. Many of the coaches I work with tell me about the wonderful things their parents do for the program and believe me, most of them are not sexy…just a great way for them to save money and to save time.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a Canisius College Women’s Soccer game on the campus of Fairfield University. We arrived on campus Friday evening to attend his swim meet at the University of Connecticut the next day. This was the first time a Canisius event occurred on campus while I was there for a swim meet since my son started there in 2008.

Decked out in my Canisius College Athletics jacket, I found the visitors section by listening for the cheers from their hale hearty fans. I would venture a guess that the entirety of the visitors section had some sort of DNA match with someone on the field.

I introduced myself as a member of the Canisius athletic staff and enjoyed meeting nice folks who share the student athlete parent bond. We talked about the competition in the conference and the frequency of the games. We compared notes on distance traveled and they commended me for traveling so far each week for our son’s meets.

My favorite conversation was with a mom who wanted to let me know how much easier it was to be the parent of a swimmer rather than one of an outdoor sport. She supposed it was much easier to sit in a natatorium than to battle the elements. She thought it more comfortable to be indoors and while she is mostly correct she does not understand how oppressive the heat can be in a pool. When you are cold you can add layers but when you are in the pool and sweating from the high heat and humidity you cannot take off your skin.

My answer was simple. I gave her the weather issue and agreed we have it easier to be indoors. But I left her with a thought. If their child was a starter or even a top layer substitute they watched them play for 1-1 ½ hours in a game that lasts about 2 hours total start to finish. But with swimming you could attend a meet which lasts 3-4 hours (including diving but that’s another blog) and your child could potentially compete less than a minute if they are a sprinter. Whoosh, they are done!

If this seems like complaining, I’m not. Actually I’m honored to be able to attend so many meets and grateful for the time and means to do it.

This week it will be at least 20 hours…but he may swim a longer event so maybe it will be 4 ½ minutes!

Life is good!

Jude

Twitter: @JudeTheFoodie

Facebook: Jude TheFoodie

JudeTheFoodie.com

Doc Starr is a Hall of Fame Athletic Director!

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I know of no one better to highlight the evolution of college athletics more than Dan Starr, PhD.  Doc, as most of us called him, was sort of an accidental athletics director.  He is a history professor and ended up AD at Canisius College for nearly 26 years, during the time when conferences were forming and the split between Bowl Game schools and the rest of Division I.

As the story goes, the college paid $600 in repairs to future NBA thug Larry Fogle’s car…so the AD gets fired and they ask squeaky clean Dan to come in and take care of things.  His first order of business was cleaning up the mess with the NCAA.  Timing, as they say, is everything and during this major infraction era conferences were born.  That train passed our probation station but Doc made the best of it.

He got us into a conference that fits not only the philosophical mission of our institution but is also financially aligned with it.  He elevated women’s sports to varsity and can even boast the first NCAA Woman of the Year, Mary Beth Riley.  But that is his press pack…I know SO much more…

I know that if you wanted a good laugh, watch him clean his office.  When I say clean, I really mean look through the many piles of papers and books stacked up on every surface.  When he announced his retirement he started to organize and pack…I think it took him two years and I think at the end he just put the rest of the stuff in boxes and brought it to his new office on the other side of campus where the history professors are located.

…and to this day I still get a random newspaper clip or book in my work mail, sometimes with a note of a funny memory and other times with no note at all.  Other of my colleagues get the same thing…Doc must be cleaning again!  I have kept most of them because he is so observant and his timing impeccable.

I have so many travel memories of Doc…the time he and I were at Disney having port wine with Father Cooke (president of the college at the time) and Father Dugan (longtime chaplain of the athletic department) in their hotel room with the door propped open for propriety…traveling to the NCAA Men’s Basketball 1st round in 1996…driving back from Albany the night we won the MAAC in a mother of a snow storm when we stopped at every rest stop for coffee and to clean the windshield.

The best one was at the end of his AD career when our softball team made another trip to the NCAA tournament, this time in Los Angeles at UCLA.  I was senior women’s administrator at the time and it was clear the new AD, whose name will never be mentioned in any of my writings, was not going to keep me in that role.  Dan got to the airport before I did and arranged for us to travel first class (particularly helpful for a trip across the country in less than 48 hours).  After our game on Thursday we went to the JP Getty Museum then on to Marina Del Rey for some great Mexican food and cocktails.  Anyone who knows Doc knows that a good cocktail is always a good idea!  I’ll never forget the toast.  “You know Jude, it’s been a great run.  I’ve had a lot of fun.  Thanks for whatever you did and for putting up with me all these years.”

Cheers to you, Doc, forever enshrined in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame!

Life is good!

Jude

Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta

AthleticBudgetCoach.com