No Use Yelling Over Spilled Sports Drink

Some of you know I was a ball boy for the Gonzaga University men’s basketball team. I served the squad for two years right before the infamous Elite 8 run. So, if you do the math, that equates to 26 years ago. If you want the details, read this blog post I wrote 10 years ago.

I was a ball boy for Gonzaga years and years ago.

But if you read that post from a decade ago, it leaves out one memory that is still engrained in my mind. During my first year as a ball boy during the 1996-97 season, the late Dan FitzGerald was in his last year as head coach. However, don’t think for a minute that just because he was retiring meant that he had lost his fire…

During a 20-second timeout (this was before they became 30-second timeouts in 2004), I approached the huddle to distribute cups of water. Because these timeouts were always so short, it was stressful for us ball boys to breach the huddle and handoff water in time. As I outstretched my arm to pass water, a player’s elbow inadvertently hit my wrist and the cup went flying as the water splattered in the middle of the huddle.

Coach Fitz started yelling curse words and flipping out. I don’t even know if he realized a ball boy was the culprit but I wanted to find my dad in the stands and disappear. I felt so bad and so embarrassed. Team staff quickly cleaned up the water but I was pretty shell shocked.

Now Dan Fitzgerald was an incredible guy who would always pat me on the shoulder before every game as I shagged balls for the players. But make no mistake about it, I was absolutely petrified by him.

Dan Fitzgerald was a fantastic coach but I was scared of him (photo courtesy of Christopher Anderson of the Spokesman-Review).


Last night after work, I poured Beau some grape Powerade in a cup with no lid. I told him very specifically that he was to drink it in the kitchen. I sat down on the couch in the living room and started to do something. Beau appeared and asked for a snack. After some back-and-forth on whether he needed a snack, I told him to give me a sec and I would help him. He then left my presence and went around the corner of the couch to a small coffee table adjacent to it.

I didn’t even hear anything fall but I did hear my son exclaim in a nervous voice…


I looked up over the table and saw that all his cup, along with the grape Powerade, was now on the floor. It had been resting on the coffee table and he somehow knocked it off. I didn’t handle it well.

Half mad because he spilled it and the other half mad because he should not have had the cup in the living room in the first place, I yelled. I finally stopped when I had a realization:

I was reprising the role of Dan Fitzgerald.

Beau ran upstairs. I followed him and apologized. I knew how Coach Fitz’s outburst made me feel and he was coaching a Division I basketball team in the heat of the moment. What excuse did I have?

I needed to remember an old cliché (no use crying over spilled milk) while also taking to heart that there is no room for tempers during Holy Week. It won’t happen again…at least for the next several days 😉.


I want to wish the men’s and women’s Gonzaga basketball teams the best of luck in the Sweet 16. May eternal rest be grant unto Dan Fitzgerald, a man who helped establish the Zags program and prime it for greatness. Don’t Blink.

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