Fall Sports – A New Beginning

Stein’s Blog

Fall Sports – A New Beginning

          This is a really exciting time of the year for a college coach.  The students just arrived on campus.  The parking lots are a now full.  I have to watch where I walk because no crosswalk on campus is safe until the freshmen learn you have to yield to pedestrians.

          Businesses in Crete will see their revenues go up as the Crete population expands by about 12% with the influx of 800 students.  More students are staying off campus this year with the demolition of the Quads.  However, the Quads coming down left a few alums in tears.  I should have recorded all the stories that came from the Quads.  That would make for several great blogs.

          The greatest thing sports-wise is all the Doane teams began last week undefeated.  That’s not true any longer, but football will begin with a lot of positive expectations.  The most overused line in the poem Casey at the Bat, “Hope springs eternal,” is appropriate for fall sports.

          To me, there is nothing like the excitement of a sports weekend that begins with high school football on Friday night and a college game on Saturday.  Also, college football will flood the television airways.

          When I was in college at Kearney, I joined Charley Foster’s large football officiating organization.  He would send almost 30 football refereeing crews out every Friday night.  I was paired for my last three years with Jim Duval, my freshmen year roommate, and Bruce Vires. 

Bruce was a very tall education major.  He also was very tight with his money.  Most officials had a short sleeve shirt when the temperatures were hot and a long sleeve shirt when the weather turned cold. 

Bruce just had a short sleeve official’s shirt.  He was too tight to buy a long sleeve shirt.  When it got too cold outside, he would wear a long sleeve, white insulated shirt under his official’s shirt.  The crowd got all over him, but he didn’t care.  He was bigger than most of our critics. 

The most memorable thing to happen in those college-officiating years occurred in the Sandhills of Nebraska.  A drunk cowboy stole my hat after a game.  He didn’t run with it.  The guy with boots and a cowboy hat wanted me to fight for it.  It might have come to blows but some little cowboy walked up and ripped the hat out of the drunk’s  hand and gave it back to me.  It turned out the little cowboy was actually a girl, and she happened to be his wife.  You could see who wore the pants in that family.

          You might find this hard to believe, but I once coached high school football.  The best way to express it is that I tried to coach high school football.  I was an assistant coach at Milford for two years.  I mostly stood around, but once in a while I was sent out to scout a game.  At least that made me feel useful.  Milford had really good teams so I must have been a really good coach, right?

          When I moved to Wilber-Clatonia, the head football coach recruited me to his staff .  He named me the defensive coordinator.  This column isn’t long enough to tell you all the mistakes I made, but  somehow the head coach put up with it all.

          Incidentally, the head coach was Steve Joel, the recently retired superintendent of the Lincoln Public Schools.  Steve thought I should give up girls’ basketball and concentrate on being a football coach. 

          Two things are certain.  Steve had a building named after him in Lincoln, but not a football field.  He chose the right profession in going into administration.  The second was I’m very thankful I didn’t follow his advice.  Women’s basketball fit me much better.

          Now the excitement starts all over again.  I may watch some of Doane’s home football games from my boss’ front porch.  Ryan Buamgartner lives across the street from the field.  I will take in a few Crete High games and may sneak down the road to see how Wilber-Clatonia is surviving without my football leadership.

          I will be recruiting at high school volleyball and softball games trying to lure good athletes to Doane.  I will try to catch some of Crete’s softball games and travel far and wide as I talk to volleyball-playing basketball recruits about the excitement in Crete.  Let it all begin.

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