My Old Thanksgiving Eve Tradition

Over a year ago, my Mead High School Class of 2005 held its 10-year high school reunion. Because of geography, I did not attend. Although mildly disappointed, I was by no means heartbroken. You see, I had already attended about four or five high school reunions before the official August 2015 one.

One year ago on this date, I wrote about my Thanksgiving traditions. Because I no longer celebrated one certain tradition at the time I wrote it, I did not include it in the blog post. Tonight I will shed a little light on that omitted tradition. For a span of about 4-5 years, I would celebrate Thanksgiving Eve the way a large portion of people in their twenties do…at a watering hole.

Anyone in the bar industry will tell you that Thanksgiving Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year. This is fueled by a few things:
1. The next day is a holiday for many.
2. People need a break from family.
3. It is a joyful time of the year.

However, the driving force behind big Thanksgiving Eve nights is the fact that people come back home to their old stomping grounds. Students and young professionals return to the place they grew up in because most of the time their families are still rooted there.

Ecstatic at returning home and feeling good about the prospect of hanging with old friends, many people will devote some of their time to going out on Thanksgiving Eve. For a few years, this was me.

I would hit up a place in north Spokane called Fizzie Mulligans. A line would be out the door, patrons would be shoulder to shoulder inside, and a loud band would drown out almost all conversation. However, I still made it a priority to show up on more than one Turkey Day Eves.

My brother and I on Thanksgiving Eve 2010 inside Fizzie Mulligans.

My brother and I on Thanksgiving Eve 2010 inside Fizzie Mulligans.

As someone who hates the above conditions, why would I do this? Well it was to see people of course! It wasn’t like I went there alone. I would go with a group of my close friends from high school or my brother or sister (on one occasion all three of us went together). From there we would join the masses and run into everyone from old classmates to old teammates to even old teachers. With a carefree attitude brought on by the holiday season and a drink or two, it was actually always a great time.

Now I know there is a high percentage of people out there who become repulsed at the thought of seeing people from high school and/or their childhood. Obviously, these folks stay home on Thanksgiving Eve. But I wasn’t like that. I had an interest in how my friends and acquaintances from Mead were doing. The night always brought with it a little bit of excitement.

Since I no longer take part in the Thanksgiving Eve tradition, do I miss it? Not really. First off, I am too old for it. Second, with social media as dominating as it is in society these days, I pretty much already know what everyone is doing. So even if 3,000 miles didn’t separate me from my hometown, I still wouldn’t venture out on Thanksgiving Eve. However, I understand the youngsters who do. To all who go out tonight, have fun and be safe. Don’t Blink.

My Mom’s First Day of School

Much to the chagrin of my teacher wife and everyone else starting their fourth week of school here in South Carolina, the district I attended in Spokane will hold its FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL today. This is not an oddity or a one year thing. School always starts the day after Labor Day in the Mead School District.

Although the three of us Reser kids have long since graduated from Mead High School, there is still a Reser in the building. My mom began her 15th year working at Mead this morning. Although not a principal, teacher, or coach, she still holds a very valuable position at the high school. If you know enough about an education system to immediately understand what my mom does when I say the word “paraeducator” then good for you! However, if you are like most of us, a quick explanation is necessary.

A paraeducator is an individual who assists in a classroom. He or she usually serves as an aid for the actual teacher. The individual will teach small groups, accompany the class to specialist periods (such as PE), do one-on-one work, give backup to the teacher, and perform a myriad of other tasks.

So yes, my mom is a paraeducator. But there is one more thing I should add: She is a paraeducator in a special education classroom.

It is true, my mom is a superhero! This was her a few years ago right before the Special Olympics for the class my mom works in. Today she begins her 15th year at Mead High School.

It is true, my mom is a superhero! This was her a few years ago right before the Special Olympics for the class my mom works in. Today she begins her 15th year at Mead High School.

For 15 years my mom has helped make the days of high school special needs students a little brighter. She has cared for them and taught them day in and day out. She has used the patience and warmth she bestowed on the three of us kids growing up in the same way with the students in her classroom.

My mom’s job is not easy by any means. Believe me, she doesn’t do it for the pay. Rather, she does it because she has an amazingly kind heart and the desire to make a difference.

You can probably gather that my mom is good at her job. But do you want proof? All you have to do is look at her biggest admirers. On my few trips back home, it never fails that a past parent will come up to her at the grocery store to strike up a conversation. Their appreciation always shines through and it is incredibly apparent that they hold inside themselves a large amount of gratitude for the warmth my mom gave their son or daughter.

I hope you have the best school year yet, mom. Please know that our family is so proud of you. Don’t Blink.

Missing My Reunion!

It almost turned into a disaster. Several months back, a well-intentioned person (or people, I really don’t know), started a Facebook group to discuss plans for a high school class reunion. While the goal was to brainstorm and nail down dates for a possible reunion in the summer, some “class clowns” had other ideas. A crude joke or two was posted, draining the enthusiasm and support that initially existed from the page. However, true to the spirit of Mead Panthers, a couple motivated individuals swooped in and rallied support while setting up a reunion itinerary.

Next month my high school class will hold its 10-year reunion. The Mead High School Class of 2005 will host your typical agenda for such an occasion; an informal evening cocktail party, a family opportunity in a park, and a formal dinner to cap things off. For me, I am trying to figure out what I am more upset about…the fact that it has been 10 years or the reality that I will not be able to attend.

Sure, it seems like I have been out of high school for a long time but a decade? I don’t think the title of my blog could describe my thoughts on that any better. I just hold close to my heart that I am still in my twenties!

When it comes to my absence from my 10-year reunion I am bummed. I had a great high school experience and met mostly good people. I would love to see where all my former classmates are at in their lives today. But time off work is precious and flying across the country and back twice in the span of 30 days isn’t cost effective…especially when you are planning a wedding. With that said, while it is with regret that I won’t be attending, it is not like I am crying my eyes out.

You see, I visited Spokane for almost two great weeks recently. It just so happened that I ran into several of my high school friends randomly, whether it was during Hoopfest or some other chance occurrence. I also got to sit down with some of my high school football teammates, people who I consider myself much closer to than many of the students I am associated with just based off of my class year. And, although a bit embarrassed to admit it, during my time at home I went to the old Mead High School track to work out. So while I might miss the official reunion dates in early August, I feel like I already got my own mini reunion.

To all my fellow 2005 Panther grads, I hope you have a great time participating in the reunion activities. I will make sure to keep an eye on the Facebook page for all the photos uploaded during the fun. Still Alive 2005. Don’t Blink.

On Carty’s Terms

This past Monday evening, Sean Carty stood up in front of parents at an information meeting and announced his resignation as head football coach at Mead High School. To some who first heard the news, the reaction was shock. Why would someone who fought so admirably to retain his job turn around and walk away? Why would someone who put his name and his reputation on the line to save the post he held for 14 years step down? Why would someone who pulled off one of the greatest victories ever over parent interference and entitlement call it quits? The answer is easy:

This was never about Sean Carty.

This was about securing the confidence of coaches in the district who feared they would have to work according to an outrageous and flawed precedent. This was about preventing parents from thinking they could hire an attorney, make false claims, and ruin someone’s life. This was about retaining the dignity of the Mead community, a community that had its reputation suffer greatly when the initial decision was made. It just so happened that the burden to make things right fell on the shoulders of Sean Carty.

Sean Carty resigned as head football coach at Mead High School on Monday. His leadership will be missed.

Sean Carty resigned as head football coach at Mead High School on Monday. His leadership will be missed.

For six turbulent months starting with the investigation and ending with Coach Carty’s reinstatement, the man went through hell. However, even though Sean admits that his “health suffered drastically” throughout the ordeal, he kept fighting until the victorious end because simply it was the right thing to do. He fought so the next amazing coach victimized by delusional parents wouldn’t suffer what he endured, he fought so the district that many of us grew up in wouldn’t become a joke.

After engineering a major win for the Mead community, Carty was finally in a position to do what he felt best for him and his loved ones. Once the parents were silenced and the decision reversed, he decided to step away under his own power and on his own terms.

“The pressure stopped and that is when I felt I could clear my head and finally do what was right for my family and I,” Carty told me last night.

With the crusade behind him and a strong message sent, his family decided that football could go on the back burner for a little bit. Of course, because of the person Sean Carty is, he didn’t take the decision lightly.

“This decision was difficult because I didn’t want to let anyone down,” Carty remarked while once again offering up heaps of gratitude to the community for the tremendous support throughout the trying months.

Carty assured me that neither the district nor parents put pressure on him to resign. Despite a quote from a parent suggesting otherwise in the local newspaper (which he erroneously attributed to the wrong historical figure), defeated moms and dads played no factor. I recognize that I have been critical of this group so let me say that I do appreciate their respect of the reversed decision. Bottom line, you can take it to the bank that Coach Carty’s call to step away wasn’t influenced by anything or anyone besides Sean and his family.

Also, Sean asked for the clarification of one thing. In the Spokesman-Review article that covered his resignation, it mentioned that an improvement plan was completed Friday. In reality, that plan, according to Carty, was “not even a document yet.” In fact, there had only been a loose discussion on what any such document would stipulate. He called this piece of the reinstatement process “no big deal” and added that it “had zero to do with my decision.”

————-

The legacy of Sean Carty during his tenure as head football coach at Mead High School is twofold. The first component will be his success working with students. He will be remembered as a brilliant coach who ran a clean program that produced great individuals. He will be remembered for his four Greater Spokane League Championships and solid win-loss record over a 14-year-span. The tradition, passion, and integrity he brought to Mead football will resonate within the program for a long time.

Of course the battle he fought over the past six months will serve as the second component of his legacy. As I have already talked about what his resiliency meant during this period, let me just say this: A lot of district coaches, community members, and Mead football alumni will be walking up to Sean Carty and shaking his hand for a long time to come.

In the end, Sean Carty got his job and reputation back. However, it took him a couple extra weeks to finally realize what he needed to do to get his life back. He made that decision on Monday night. Just as the community can now move on, so can Sean.

“I am very happy right now and at peace,” a relieved Carty breathed.

You deserve it, Coach. Don’t Blink.

_____________________________
Previous Posts About Sean Carty’s Ordeal:
Feeling Bad for Coach Carty
The Triumph of Sean Carty and the Community

_____________________________

The Triumph of Sean Carty and the Community

It just usually doesn’t turn out this way.

Many times when an organization makes a personnel decision, especially an educational body, the decision stands. Although a full line of appeals await, many times it is fruitless. Even in this recent Mead High School case where the verdict was so flawed and so knee-jerk, the powers that be usually don’t budge. In fact, in my initial blog post addressing the non-renewal of the head football coach’s contract, I likened the chances of a reversal to the completion of a Hail Mary. I guess I didn’t give full consideration to the fact that they were dealing with Sean Carty.

——
When I received word last night that the Mead School District had struck down the principal’s decision and reinstated Carty to his head coach position, I was elated. I typed out an all-caps text message laced with question marks and exclamation points and sent it to the man himself. Carty responded in the best way possible.

Could this have been more perfect?

Could this have been more perfect?

Yesterday at around 3 p.m., the superintendent informed Carty in-person that the job he had held with honor, integrity, and success for 14 years was still his. By 3:30 p.m. he was strategizing on how he would bring the team, all players and all parents included, closer together than ever before. Think about that for one second. If you had a small group of people who literally made your life hell for six months and did all they could to take away your passion, wouldn’t you want to rub your vindication in their faces? Not Carty. He is not dwelling on the lies and the smear campaign. In fact, he probably wouldn’t even address it if you asked him. Sean says he is all about uniting the team and that the actions of a few adults is “water under the bridge.”

I want to take Carty’s lead and not dwell on the parents. Rather, I would much rather focus on Coach Carty’s resiliency. Or I would much rather focus on the humility of the Mead School District to correct the mistake of one of its administrators. Or I would much rather focus on the savvy and intelligence of the three men who helped represent Carty through the appeals process…Don Beloved, Paul Kautzman, and David Whitehead. Or I would much rather focus on the patience of the assistant coaches who also battled through this storm without contracts. Or I would much rather focus on the strength of Carty’s wife and two daughters who had to witness the injustice.

Sean Carty would like to focus on the community. Both in our texts last night and a brief call this morning, he expressed his gratitude to the people of Mead and elsewhere who supported him. Former players, current players, athletes, non-athletes, parents, staff, and so many other groups immediately came to his defense. It was a tough time but the overwhelming support he was given made a huge difference. He has his job and his reputation back but Carty told me those wins pale in comparison to something else:

“Just knowing that I had a positive impact and that people believed in me is victory enough.”

I would also like to express my gratitude to the community as well. I was so impressed with all the people who contacted me wanting to do anything they could to help out. Some of these people I had not talked to in years, most I had never talked to in my life. Coach Carty stood up for what was right and fought this. But the collaborative effort of the community gave him that extra boost he needed. Social media is extremely powerful.

The sun shined down a little brighter off the blue track that circles the football field at Mead High School this morning. Those same rays also radiated off the big gold rock that greets each player before practice. Thankfully, the school will now have to wait a little longer until they name it after Sean Carty. All is right in Panther Land again, the good of high school athletics triumphed over the bad. Don’t Blink.

Big Developments in Carty Case and My Letterman Reaction

It is another great day to be alive! I hope this week has gone smoothly for all of you. Thursday is here again and that means it is time for the latest rundown. Here we go…

Carty Developments – I definitely have some new information on the Sean Carty appeal process to share with you. Dr. Rockefeller excused himself from hearing Coach Carty’s case because the two men developed a personal relationship over the years. An assistant superintendent stepped in instead. I have been told that the allegations hastily leveled against Carty from a small group of parents have been completely discredited. The ruling body will not even consider the silly complaints lodged by these people. Instead, if the contract non-renewal is upheld, it will be solely on the belief of the district that the Mead football program needs to go in a new direction.

Of course many people will probably be upset about this. You see, an investigation was conducted as a result of these allegations. District time and resources went into this examination. In the end, it was all a complete waste. Although this is a major victory for Coach Carty, his football job still hangs in the balance. If the assistant superintendent feels that Carty’s overall winning record, GSL championships, and model way of developing young men is not enough, he will take his case to the final level…the school board. Coach Carty will know his fate very soon, perhaps tonight. If we aren’t celebrating his reinstatement, I will make an edit underneath this paragraph encouraging any supporters to e-mail the school board in a show of support for Sean. Stay tuned.

Scroll down to the very end of my blog post to see a very elegant comment left just today that a former blogger on the prep scene left regarding Coach Carty and parents. It is very telling.

********BREAKING: Sean Carty is once again the head football coach of the Mead Panthers. He was reinstated a couple hours ago. Coach Carty would like all of his supporters to know how thankful he is for the role this community played in fighting for what was right. Click here for Carty reaction and my final reflections on the whole ordeal. Congrats to Sean and his family.**********

Letterman Finale – When it comes to show finales, they can be hit or miss. In my opinion, David Letterman hit a grand slam with last night’s final episode of the “Late Show.” I thought his opening monologue set the tone and that his reflection/thank you session was satisfying. However, my two favorite moments came with the top ten list and the ending montage. It was a lot of fun watching the major celebrities walk out one-by-one to reveal the contents of the list. It kept me guessing on who would walk out of the curtain next but mostly I was fixated on what the next item on the list was going to be! Dave going down the line to shake hands with each person before the commercial break was priceless.

When the show ended with that collection of photos while the Foo Fighters played “Everlong,” I felt everything came together. Even though each image appeared on screen for about a tenth of a second, every one seemed to register with me. It really explained the significance and scope of the “Late Show.” An icon left the airwaves last night.

Residence Hall Reveal – When the academic year comes to a conclusion, strong content for social media can sometimes be hard to find. Not this week. Over the next 14 months, we will have four new residence halls opening up on campus (yes, our university is growing like crazy). We wanted to make a splash introducing these new buildings to the community. Deciding to give each new residence hall its own turn in the sun, I showcased each one on a separate day this week. Making sure to reveal each one in a special way across our main social media outlets, our audience loved learning the names of the new halls and viewing the slick renderings of each building. Tomorrow the #CCUResHallReveal will culminate with a video giving the viewer a hard hat tour of all four structures.

Renderings of all four of our new residence halls. They are named Chanticleer Hall, Tradition Hall, CINO Hall, and Teal Hall.

Renderings of all four of our new residence halls. They are named Chanticleer Hall, Tradition Hall, CINO Hall, and Teal Hall.

NBA Conference Finals – I am not straddling the fence when it comes to who I want to see come out of their respective conference finals. I am hoping for an Atlanta Hawks vs. Golden State Warriors championship. I just can’t bring myself to cheer for Lebron and the Cavs…no way. When it comes to the Western Conference, I am cheering for a team instead of against one. I really want to see Steve Kerr and Stephen Curry make it to the NBA Finals. Watching the Warriors make it to the grand stage would be refreshing and fun. Once the championship is set, I will be sure to fill you in on who I want to see hoisting the trophy at the end.

Bikefest – In Myrtle Beach there is a major event called Bikefest. Thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts converge on our area every Memorial Day weekend. The city becomes swamped and getting around is very difficult. Last year the event was marred by several shootings and deaths. It caused a colossal outrage in the community and the planning to clean up the event pretty much started the Tuesday after Memorial Day. I kid you not, the efforts to make sure this year’s event is not a repeat of 2014 have been chronicled on the front page of our local newspaper pretty much every single day since last May. Law enforcement from all over the state will be aiding our local police officers to make sure the weekend goes off without a hitch. To say Bikefest is a complex issue is an understatement. There is a big racial element that causes a great divide and many misunderstandings between groups. My only hope is that we will have a very harmonious next three days here in Myrtle Beach.

Bikers take over Myrtle Beach during Bikefest. (Photo courtesy of the Sun News).

Bikers take over Myrtle Beach during Bikefest. (Photo courtesy of the Sun News).

—————-

On that Bikefest note, have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. I will keep you updated on the Sean Carty situation. As always, I am very thankful to all my readers for taking the time to read my ramblings. You all are the real MVPs. Don’t Blink.

As promised, here is a comment that was left today on my initial blog post about the happening at Mead High School:

Comment from blogger

Feeling Bad for Coach Carty

_____________________________

NOTE: Almost two months after I wrote this post, Sean Carty was reinstated as head football coach at Mead High School. Backed by the community, Coach Carty fought hard against a very small group of parents. It didn’t take long for all allegations to be completely discredited. The district struck down the decision of the principal and immediately reinstalled Carty to full head coaching duties. CLICK HERE for my wrap up blog post that includes reaction from Coach Carty.

_____________________________

Late last night a good friend and former high school teammate of mine sent me this link. I read it with sadness. The article conveyed the news that the head football coach of Mead High School in Spokane, WA., would not have his contract renewed. I attended Mead (2005) where I played football under Sean Carty’s program for all four years. My brother (2008) also played four years of football for Coach Carty. Preceding both my brother and myself, my sister (2002) was a track athlete and a gymnast in high school. While Carty surely didn’t coach her in gymnastics, he was an assistant coach on the girls’ track and field team.

As you can see, my family has had a long history with Sean Carty. With this timeline established, I want to say two things.

It has been ten years since I played for Sean Carty. During this span, the only time I actually had the chance to speak with him was after a football game in Missoula one year ago.

It has been ten years since I played for Sean Carty. During this span, the only time I actually had the chance to speak with him was after a football game in Missoula one year ago.

First, when I was a member of the Mead High School football team, Coach Carty ran a clean, honest program. During my three years suiting up for varsity we had a losing season, a championship season, and a 500 season. Throughout these very different experiences, Carty always did what was best for the team. I can honestly say that the four years I spent in the Mead football program made me a better person. I learned how to persevere, win, work, think, compete, communicate, work out, fundraise, prepare, and more. I am not embellishing anything when I say the following, many of the most important lessons I learned came under the tutelage of Sean Carty and his staff.

Now, I will admit that it has been ten years since I played football. It has been seven years for my brother. Things change, people change. However, I have a hard time believing that Coach Carty’s philosophy and methods could change so much as some might allege.

This rock that I am standing next to (excuse the hair) plays a large part in the legacy of Sean Carty. Read on to find out how.

This rock that I am standing next to (excuse the hair) plays a large part in the legacy of Sean Carty. Read on to find out how.

Second, parents ruin things. I saw it when I played, I saw it when I worked in intercollegiate athletics, and I even see it now…people who should just keep their mouths shut don’t. Luckily for me, I grew up with two parents who respected all of my coaches and would never think about confronting them, let alone going behind their backs and over their heads. But it happens every single day in America. Dads and moms live through their kids and/or erroneously believe that they know more than the coaches who spend countless hours pouring their souls into a program. It is an absolute shame. What is an even bigger travesty is when parents take it upon themselves to make the life of a coach miserable, or, in some cases, ruin it.

—–
Coach Carty could be a tough coach. But he was also a fair coach. As he throws what many might consider a Hail Mary as he appeals the termination, I hope the school district really analyzes its final decision. An overall winning record with fourteen issue-free seasons should always trump a group of disgruntled parents.

A couple years after Coach Carty took over as head coach, he hauled a giant boulder from his property and had it installed on the edge of the football practice fields. He painted it gold, called it “The Rock”, and started a beloved tradition where the hardest working football player each week would have his name written on that rock. At the start of every new season it was painted over and the process started again. If Sean Carty’s appeal falls on deaf ears and he is not head football coach of the Mead Panthers next season, I sure hope the high school rightfully names that rock after him. It is the least they could do. Don’t Blink.

My Insanely Long Hair

This morning on Instagram I threw up a Throwback Thursday picture of myself from when I was a junior in high school. The photo showed me at a giant gold painted rock at the edge of the school grounds. The rock commemorated a weekly award given out to members of the Mead High School football team who worked exceptionally hard. My name happened to be written on that rock. But that is beside the point.

In this picture I wore a black Mead sweatshirt, jeans, and a Texas Longhorns cap. The gold rock clashed brilliantly with the snow on the ground. However my Instagram followers didn’t notice my attire, the snow, or the large gold stone. Instead the only thing they were focused on was the dark, curly mess flowing out of my burnt orange baseball hat.

Yep, this is me. Yep, that is my real hair.

Yep, this is me. Yep, that is my real hair.

Yep, that is my real hair. For the better part of 18 months starting during my sophomore year of high school I grew my hair out. Needless to say, it definitely grew. Although my hair didn’t grow straight it still managed to reach my shoulders. Most impressive was how it grew out from side to side. I had pretty much a giant curly fro/perm mop of hair that would make many women envious. Actually, scratch that, I am pretty sure it would make any female vomit.

My dad was actually supportive of my long hair!

My dad was actually supportive of my long hair!

I didn’t grow my hair out because I wanted to be a punk rocker. Nor because I was a pothead. Nor because I wanted to give a big “Screw You” to society. I was a very straight arrow kid who played sports, got straight A’s, and stayed out of trouble. Rather I just grew it for three main reasons:

1. I could
2. My friends encouraged me to
3. I wanted my hair to flow out of the backside of my football helmet.

This was probably at around the six month mark. Off to football camp!

This was probably at around the six month mark. Off to football camp!

No joke, those are the legitimate reasons for why I decided to go with the long hair look. I will admit that it was also kind of fun getting comments from other people also remarking on the sheer mass and twisted curls of my mane. Speaking of the word mane that reminds me of some of the nicknames people called me. I got everything from lion, Bozo the Clown, Samson, and hairy beast. While I enjoyed the encouragement from my friends and the random comments from people I ran into, I couldn’t escape my biggest critic…my mom.

My mother flat out hated my long hair. After I passed the six month mark I didn’t go one day without her nagging me to get it cut. While I could brush off her desperate pleas to visit the barber as the months went on my hair started to bother me a little bit. I couldn’t see as well because the thick strands would come down into my eyes and it took a lot to maintain. I also started to feel a little dirty too. With my tolerance for my hair starting to drain the last straw came when a football coach suggested to me that I get it cut. All good things come to an end.

It just got out of control.

It just got out of control.

I went to Fantastic Sams and told the mortified stylist that I wanted it all chopped off. I went from a load of hair to a #1 Caesar cut. After she finished I had never felt so free in my life. People either didn’t recognize me when I went to school the next day or they just burst out laughing the second I walked up to them. It was a total transformation.

While I still have incredibly curly hair I don’t have the growing power that I once had. Plus, since I am now an adult with a respectable job I don’t have the luxury of growing my hair out for 18 months. The out of control shoulder length curly hair is a thing of the past, reserved only for Throwback Thursdays and this blog post. It was a good run. Don’t Blink.

**Shout out to my brother, Glen Reser, for providing me with some of these photos.

The Time I Met My True Double

Last night I had fun writing about the similarity in physical appearance that some people feel Russell Wilson and I share. I know very well that the similarities only go so far and that if he and I stood next to each other it probably would be night and day. However, a decade ago I stood next to my true double after we both found ourselves in the same small town in Washington.

The year was 2004 and I was a junior at Mead High School. During the spring I competed in track and field. Each year we would travel to Richland, Washington, to compete in a season opening meet that drew schools from all over the eastern part of the state. If not for the experience I had during this particular year I would always remember that meet for its annual horrendous weather and consistent knack of always falling behind schedule.

Me during my track career.

Me during my track career.

Because the meet lasted all day and because our coaches would never think about sending athletes home before the very last kid finished competing at 8 p.m., we had a lot of downtime. Most years my competition schedule ended by 1 p.m. At this particular venue the track and all the pits were located inside the football stadium. There was a lot of space for teams to separate and isolate themselves from the competition.

My school would usually set up shop on a grassy hill in the corner of the stadium, away from the bleachers. On this day I sat with a few of my teammates on the hill when a couple of our distance runners came by on their cool down to alert me that they had thought they entered the Twilight Zone by seeing myself dressed in the warm ups of a different high school. When they saw me in my Mead uniform with my Mead teammates and when they looked across the stadium to where this impostor still stood they concluded that they had discovered my long lost twin.

By their pure hysteria I knew I had to go investigate. With the teammates who were sitting next to me along for the ride we started to navigate through the meet and to the other side of the stadium. As we made our way across a couple more people associated with my high school alerted me of the eerie similarity. As my supposed look-alike came into view my teammates started to freak out. They couldn’t believe how similar we looked. To be honest, I didn’t really see that much of a striking resemblance but everyone else did. As we got closer we didn’t have the guts to just go right up to him so we camped out inside the track by the discus area. Surrounded by three or four girls, the guy stood behind the track, about midway up another hill.

As we kept sneaking glances back at the guy while my teammates laughed something became obvious. We weren’t the only ones creeping. He and his female posse had definitely noticed me as well and they were taking turns looking in our direction. Finally our eyes met and on cue we started walking in their direction and they started walking in our direction until we met just right off the track. We shook hands, not really even mentioning why we were doing so. Up close some of our distinguishing features came a little more pronounced. For starters, I think he was of Hispanic descent. He also had brown eyes compared to my hazel eyes. But our same mop of curly hair with identical body build and similar mannerisms proved too perfect for our teammates and friends to ignore.

By this time a small crowd had gathered around us, including a person with a camera. For whatever reason the yearbook class sent a student on the three hour bus ride to cover the most boring meet of the season. I imagine the most entertainment he got all day was the opportunity to take that picture of the double and I. Even though our yearbook seemed like it was over a 1,000 pages, that shot never made the final cut. I never saw a copy of the photo either.

Too bad that I don’t have that photo at my disposal. Talk about a great piece to share on social media ten years later! The cliché goes that everyone has a double. Even though I don’t have a keepsake of that unique moment I feel fortunate that I got to meet mine! Don’t Blink.

November 19th Through the Years

If you read this blog enough you that in addition to this daily public record that I write, I also have a daily private record that I write. Yes, I am a big time journaler. For almost fifteen years I have written a detailed summary of every day within that span that I have lived. About five months ago I merged my blogging and journaling together. I wrote a post where I used my journals to give you a summary of every June 26 that I had lived for the past ten years. That particular post got descriptive and it also got very long.

I decided tonight to go with a condensed version of what I did in June. By condensed I mean I am only going to go back five years and I might leave some of the detail out. Keep in mind that deciding to do a flashback of November 19 was a totally spur of the moment thing. This date holds no significance to me and as you will see, no earth shattering events occurred. Here we go:

TODAY, Tuesday, November 19, 2013 – Typical busy day with Griz-Cat week in full swing. Got even more in the mood for the big game by attending the weekly press conference and the first practice of the week in the rain. After work I went to the local hospice center where I volunteer at and made about 20 phone calls to people reminding them about an upcoming community event.

Friday, November 19, 2012 – I created our UMGRIZZLIES Instagram account. One year later it has 2,306 followers and I have posted 609 different photos/videos to the account. Also on this day, Christie overheated our microwave in the office and filled up the whole area with thick smoke. The microwave was totally ruined and we had to take it outside where we were able to open the door and take out the charred bag of popcorn.

Saturday, November 19, 2011 – The cheer squad, some fellow staffers, boosters, and myself boarded a bus and we headed over to Bozeman for the 111th Brawl of the Wild. With everyone expecting the #1 ranked Montana State Bobcats to easily win the game, the Grizzlies had other ideas as they kicked the snot out of the Cats, 36-10. Standing on the sidelines watching our football team pull off the upset was a pretty neat deal. To this day it is one of my fondest memories.

Friday, November 19, 2010 – On this day I spent the morning prepping for the football game the next day, conducting a Monte rehearsal, and getting a workout in. I then spent the afternoon working sporting events. Our Griz basketball team played a very rare 3 p.m. weekday game against Montana Tech. The contest was never close at all as the Grizzlies pounded Tech. After that game I picked up my equipment and moved from Dahlberg Arena to the West Auxiliary Gym where I worked the 7 p.m. volleyball match against Weber State. Staying with the blow out theme, our volleyball team swept the Wildcats, 3-0.

Thursday, November 19, 2009 – I worked a pretty regular day and then worked out at 6 p.m. I grabbed a bean and cheese burrito at Taco Del Sol and then my friend Dan and I went to the Missoula Maulers hockey game where it was Mascot Night. During one of the intermissions they had the mascots play (rather attempt to play) a game of hockey on the ice. Besides Monte and Mo and the Maulers mascot, you also had costumed characters such as Red Robin, the Little Caesars guy, and a local taco mascot. It was quite entertaining.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 – I rolled out of bed at 5:30 a.m. and walked to the gym for my 6 a.m. workout. Later on in the day I worked on my semester statistics project with one of my group members, Jamie Groy. Man, that project brought about a lot of stress. Staying true to my broke college student ways, I donated plasma after lunch. I weighed in at 188 pounds and I got paid a whole $20 for an hour of discomfort. Later that night I got to experience the famous Jaker’s Happy Hour for the first time.

BONUS: Friday, November 19, 2004 (decided to throw this one in just because it is the oldest record I have here at my apartment…I have older journals located at my parents’ home in Spokane): Ahhh…my senior year at Mead High School. We had an easy workout for zero hour weights. In Accounting we worked on chapter 14. In Trigonometry we took the non-calculator portion quiz of chapter 3. In my Art-History class we looked at Byzantine art. In AP Government I got my 43/48 test back. I then went to basketball practice where I was a manager. I then came home and did homework and watched the Gonzaga basketball team beat Portland State. I then watched highlights of the ugly NBA brawl between Indiana and Detroit.

————

Thanks for getting in the time machine with me and going back through the years. Remember, you are never too old to start journaling. It has been very rewarding for me. Don’t Blink.