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Every Rose has its thorn

Golf’s a weird game. Always has been, always will be. Hardest game in sports, which is inexplicable since the ball isn’t moving at 90 mph (baseball). Nor is someone putting a hand in your face when you take a shot (basketball). Or anyone trying to snap your spine in two as you reach your goal (football).

I remember Justin Rose from when I was a kid. He was 18, and I was the dorky golf type that sets his alarm (still am) to watch The Open Championship across the pond. People thought it was a little obtuse that a teenager would set his alarm for 4:30 a.m. to watch golf, but back then, I figured I had a shot.

Rose was like 17 or 18, and I thought it was cool that someone only a few years older than me could be hacking it with the legends on golf’s oldest, and in my opinion, grandest stage. Rose finished fourth. I had my mom drop me off at the local county course to play all afternoon. If he could do it, I could do it. Flawed logic, but whatever.

Fast forward 15 years. Rose won a major finally, long removed from a spry teenager jumping with glee at every shocking shot, the world now offering so far fewer guarantees than it did those many years ago. For all of us. While it won’t ever make golf’s annals of greatest finishes, the US Open was as exciting of a golf tournament as you’ll watch over a four-day period.

I was probably the only American rooting for Rose, because I remember the fleeting, momentary impact he had on my youth. Rose is one of the good guys on tour. Not getting into who isn’t, how I know, or why. But he is. He could win another 100 tournaments. He’ll still be one of the good guys.
But this US Open featured it all. It had the typical high scores early Thursday. It had weather wrecking dreams (Nicolas Colsaerts). It had the old (Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker) in contention. It had the young bloods, on hands and knees for their first tournament, the way we all who play competitive golf fall a time or two every round (Jason Day, Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler). It had a long shot (Billy Horschel). It had it all.

Yet in the end, it had a Rose. It wasn’t the most iconic imagery you’ll find of a winner. That Merion crowd so badly wanted a Phil moment when he dumped in a 76-yard eagle wedge on 10. That was supposed to be the greatest US Open shot ever when he won. So was Day’s chip on 11 for bogey. I mean, if you’re walking away with a bogey after canning it in a creek, you’ve got to win, right?
Nah. Rose did nothing special, which was special. He had poor shots here and there, but never imploded, and didn’t bother having poor shots enough. Golf is odd like that. There really is no momentum, to be honest. It goes from hole to hole, because a blown putt can easily be forgotten by piping in 320 down center on the next tee. And each club has its own momentum. You can feel like you’re going to stripe it every time off the tee, but reading putts and making them is ostensibly trying to mow grass in the dark.

In the end though, it was Justin Rose, all alone, chest bumping his wife watching television whilst he won the grandest tournament of his career. That’s how golf is. No one wins immediately, which is why people like Tiger Woods will forever be fascinating. And winning isn’t the alcoholism it is in other sports. You win once in the NBA Finals, people want more. You win once in golf, and your legacy is forever cemented.

Because it’s so hard. And it always will be, which makes it so great. Golf is different, because the dreams start in the teens, take a body shot in the 20s, and last through the 50s. No other sport offers such. For all the rest take time from our bodies, cartilage from our knees, hitch in our giddy-up.
But not golf. It hangs on until the bitter end, when you’re barely able to walk with a 30 handicap, and some young flower is depending on you to hit a putt to win a club scramble championship.

What Rose did today is amazing, but it’s golf. It’s the sport that keeps on giving, long after the others move on, constantly looking for a younger, more vibrant model. Rose’s win was one for the good guys, the dreamers, the guys who never give up. He missed 21 cuts straight at one point in his early professional life. Ball is just sitting there, couldn’t be hit.

And undoubtedly, somewhere, there’s a teenager on his bed watching it all unfold, watching a Fowler, a Michael Kim. Three miles down the road, there’s a guy pushing 40, maybe older, watching Stricker. Watching Phil. Both are dreaming the same thing, because in the moment it makes sense … and because they can.

Me? I’m still stuck in 15 years ago. It’ll never happen. Not shooting mid-70s at local golf courses with a creaky back. But it’s fun to dream. The US Open gave us all that this year, again. Every Rose may have it’s thorn, but the scent is still beautiful. Long after we’ve given up on smelling everything else sports has to offer.

About the author:

Bart is a  writer for the Hendricks County Flyer.  He also covers college football for Scout.com as well as his own website. He played basketball in college at Indiana University East and apparently he feels that gives him autonomy on writing about college football somehow. In addition to all of this, he enjoys being mediocre at golf, coaching basketball, eating chicken wings, and apparently typing in the third person. He lives at home with his wonderful family, cat, and other generic items.

Please send any suggestions, comments, insults, checks, or cash to bart.doan@flyergroup.com.  If you figure out how to email cash, you’re a genius.

Innocuous Good Person of the Week 19

At this point, I should probably rename this to “Innocuous Good Person of the Whenever I Have Time to Write it,” but it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. I haven’t done one of these in awhile not because I can’t find any good people … rather that there’s just not a groundswell of time in the week to do much.

 But it’s back this week, one week after you seriously had to question humanity for a moment when citizens who came here for a better life, achieved it, and still harbored grudges against the place that allowed them to have it started injuring and killing innocent people simply for being Americans.

 So in light of those events in a state I hold dear to my heart, I figured maybe a column about a good local person was in order, so in effort to save my incessant babbling about nothing, here we go.

 There’s a corner shop at the end of Odell Street in Brownsburg, a small, cozy place called Hendricks County Estate Buyers. Going on about two and a half years ago was my first stop in there. Not to sell anything, but to meet the owner as it related to my job with the newspaper.

 His name is Justin Briggs (I promise, this will start reading less like a fifth grader wrote it soon). Anyways, my first time in there I knew we’d at least hit it off in our interactions. I know nothing about gold, less about silver, and absolutely nothing about estate buying. But he had golf clubs sitting in his shop, and it’s pretty much unspoken man-code that when you see golf clubs and you golf, it must be talked about.

 We’re fairly simple folks. There are a few categories that men just look for to know what they can hold a conversation about. Golf/sports is one of them. More then than now, I came to spend a lot of time getting to know Justin and his family.

 Honestly, I was always stunned by his generosity. People he barely knew would literally walk in and ask for help, money, whatever, and he’d offer anything he could. I’ve never really met more generous people that I’m not related to. This is the type of guy Justin is: one day I told him my driver was struggling. He picks up a brand new Taylor Made and says “here, if you want this, go ahead and have it.” I was stunned.

 And his place is a breeding ground for interesting stories. If I had 50 grand, I could sit there in his shop daily and come up with the Great American Novel in about six months. Justin said he’d been at a point when he had less than nothing. So that’s why he got into the business he did, to help other people get back on their feet.

 But nothing really lasts forever, other than death, taxes, the NBA playoffs being rigged, and Nickelback making terrible music. So the time I spent in there witnessing all different scopes of life dwindled, and ultimately came to an end. I hadn’t talked to Justin in months.

 Then I got word that his father passed away, after having battled illness for years. I dropped a card off in the dark of the night on the way to basketball practice for the kids I coach and said a short prayer, because I think death stinks.

 About a week ago, really out chance timing as I was looking into a major purchasing decision, I ran into Justin. Typical of him, even though I hadn’t been in the shop for months, he always has a warm greeting for you. He reminds me of Santa Claus, even though he’s not fat, old, nor does he have a white beard or ride reindeer.

 Justin spent about a half hour with me giving me some advice, as he had inherent knowledge of what I was dealing with. Gave me tips I honestly would have overlooked had I not run into him. But more than that, it was a guy going out of his way to help someone random whom he’d not seen in forever, because that’s Justin Briggs. Really, that’s his wife Michelle and children too. All fantastic folks.

 So as the IGPOW comes back after last week to remind society that there are good people out there, remember that for every terrible story that makes you question your fellow man or worse yet, your faith, remember that the world is littered with nice individuals too. Right around the corner. And even on Odell Street. Sometimes like me, we don’t always have time to find out.

About the author:

Bart is a  writer for the Hendricks County Flyer.  He also covers college football for Scout.com as well as his own website. He played basketball in college at Indiana University East and apparently he feels that gives him autonomy on writing about college football somehow. In addition to all of this, he enjoys being mediocre at golf, coaching basketball, eating chicken wings, and apparently typing in the third person. He lives at home with his wonderful family, cat, and other generic items.

Please send any suggestions, comments, insults, checks, or cash to bart.doan@flyergroup.com.  If you figure out how to email cash, you’re a genius.

20 years it’s been waiting for this moment. Go Blue.

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“Jalen Rose takes the ball at the elbow. Dribbles once. 3…2…1…shot goes up…it’s IN!!!! IT’S OVER!!! MICHIGAN WINS!!!”

Back when we were kids, we’d run up to the courts or meet up in a driveway on a crisp summer evening, world way more ahead of us than behind us as it is now. Maybe stop at the local gas station on a run there if we didn’t have a ride to blow part of our allowance for doing chores on sugary soda pop and Sour Patch Kids.

Then we’d run up there and pretend we were the heroes we watched on television, never really putting it all together that we’d be college kids wondering how or why anyone would look up to us. One of us Jalen Rose. Maybe someone else was Jimmy King or Ray Jackson. Man, those were the days.

Been around the game, and been a Michigan Man for a long time, that University coursing through my veins with every maize and blue garment bought for me by my family. The first basketball game I ever watched was Michigan vs Seton Hall, the 1989 National Championship. My dad still has that game on VHS, and it’ll still send chills down your spine when Rumeal Robinson does what Rumeal Robinson did once, and because of it no one will ever forget Rumeal Robinson.

Then came the Fab Five. I’ve read Mitch Albom’s book upwards of 10 times, and end up sort of misty eyed every time I finish it. Michigan was cool. They changed basketball, marrying defiance, hip hop, and basketball in ways that changed the sport forever. I don’t think I’ve worn white socks or shorts above the knees since.
This weekend is surreal for us, the Michigan Men (and Women). Kansas controlled us. Everyone knows that. About 4:37 left in the game, I laid down on my stomach near where my brother was. Kind of that “alright, maybe moving off the couch will in some stupid, superstitious way help us go on a run.” Fans think like that.

Then all of the sudden it happened. A three. A loose ball lay-up when 0.5 seconds longer and it’d have been a pile driving jump ball turnover. Then a missed free throw by a guy who hit our center in the jejunum earlier. Then Trey Burke, from the parking lot by way of Ann Arbor. When he hit that three (and I don’t need to even be any more descriptive. It was that iconic.), I jumped up so high, you’d think I wasn’t white, and was 17 all over again and yelled “Oh my God!”

And then it was OT. And then it was over. Michigan lost a basketball game ostensibly on a half court shot at one point this year. Yet two decent Kansas looks to win wouldn’t go. It felt every bit of the Fab Five’s epic win over Kentucky in 1993. My brother and I hugged so hard, I’m pretty sure someone’s spine snapped.

And then there was Florida, from the allegedly awful SEC but with one of the most prideful, if sometimes delusional fan bases in sports. They were a shark forced to swim with minnows, we were told. They were always here in the Elite 8. Birthright stuff. This time, they’d get it done.

But it was never a game. Somewhere, Florida Gator Guy had to be saying, “oh, so THIS is what Ohio State felt like in 2006.” It was about as close as me and my first girlfriend. And we (thankfully) haven’t spoken in well over a decade. Final Four. Cut down the nets. Feels like it’s the early 90s. Come on, Florida. All that wise you crack about SEC football? This is the B1G. You really think you’re getting through on one of their elites? Pfft…

I ran outside and screamed a good, hearty Easter scream. The neighborhood kid was across the way working on his car, and turned around with a look on his face like there was a Unicorn drinking from his toilet.

Being a Michigan fan is easy. We win at the important stuff…football and basketball…a lot. Sure, it’s been since 1994 that we’ve been to a Sweet 16, but in my calendar lifetime I’ve witnessed a national title, now three Final Fours, and the first B1G tournament championship. Imagine rooting for Northwestern you’re entire life. I’m getting shingles just thinking about it.

But this is awesome. It’s juvenile to be this old and care this much, but it’s awesome. Michigan feels like it did growing up. To be Michigan basketball is to be “cool” again. And to win in Atlanta, man, it’d be all the more epic. Once upon a time, I revived my life down there. A place the Wolverines may this time next week, do the same.

So the Victors are again two wins away, coming off a weekend that conjures up memories, all of them, of the black socks, baggy shorts, Geto Boys music, and a culture shift that has withstood the test of time since. Basketball was never the same because of Michigan. Twenty years later, we’re reminded of that.

Somewhere, there’s a kid calling up his group of buddies, imploring them to scour every aperture of the couch to scare up enough loose change for some gummy worms and Jolt. And then to run down to the courts and fire up a few shots as the sun goes down and the spotlights come on. Years take our youth from us, but the dreams carry on, recycled forever.

For once upon a time, we were all Jalen Rose or Jimmy King, nailing last second shots with stars in our eyes. A generation later, they’re Trey Burke or Tim Hardaway Jr. Times change, but the dreams never do, just the names. Somewhere, there’s a kid…

“Trey Burke takes the ball at the elbow. Dribbles once. 3…2…1…shot goes up…it’s IN!!!! IT’S OVER!!! MICHIGAN WINS!!!”

Shut your windows Monday night if it all goes as planned. I’m not hitting jumpers in the park at 11 p.m. But I still can sing pretty loud. And not well. Hail, Hail, to Michigan…

About the author:

Bart is a  writer for the Hendricks County Flyer.  He also covers college football for Scout.com as well as his own website. He played basketball in college at Indiana University East and apparently he feels that gives him autonomy on writing about college football somehow. In addition to all of this, he enjoys being mediocre at golf, coaching basketball, eating chicken wings, and apparently typing in the third person. He lives at home with his wonderful family, cat, and other generic items.

Please send any suggestions, comments, insults, checks, or cash to bart.doan@flyergroup.com.  If you figure out how to email cash, you’re a genius.

Keep on dreaming. March: 2013

“In a world filled with cynics, don’t forget to stop and dream.” -unknown

I heard it driving in the early morning, ironically, when many people are still stuck in a dream. I’m not sure that it’s completely right, and I’m not sure who said it. I was pulling in, another cold, unforgiving morning flipping talk radio stations just a week before the NCAA tournament would begin. It struck me because the guy saying it was crying, on the air, in homage to a friend lost to death. And though I don’t remember it completely, I’ll never forget it.

March is for those people. People like me. People like you. The dreamers. Sports inspires very little anymore, wrought with scandal, feel-bad stories, drug use, and lies. Nothing is above it. No man, no coach, no system. Other than March.

I’ll never stop playing it through my mind, this month. Still shuffle through the old newspaper clippings of my last college season, yellowing at the corners sardonically reminding me of my age. There will never be another time like that. March is different. It’s a pilgrimage of the mind. Every year, I shoot a message over to my back-court mate off the bench, seeing if we can meet up for a game or two after not talking for at least 300 days. Every year, it seems natural. It’s March.

It probably shouldn’t mean as much as it does as you age. Other people playing out a game that’s long passed you by, now a decade since I peeled off a college jersey for the last time, should fade in due time. But for whatever reason, it doesn’t. And I don’t think it ever will.

You feel it because you lived it, though not as grand. Flashbacks rip through your heart like a scene in a callous horror movie, taking with it all the emotions you left behind so long ago, yet still feel the sting of as though they were yesterday. Anthony Booker of Iowa State, being held back by teammates as tears streamed down his face, realizing what all of us who plays this game must at some point. Dwayne Evans of St. Louis, in tears at the podium, realizing a game that means as much to you as family, has finally been embalmed.

You feel it in the hug from father to son, Greg McDermott to Doug, wondering how they could both choke back the emotion that come with Father Time ripping one more moment, one more memory away from the two. You feel it when you watch Matthew Dellavedova’s eyes well up before he hides them in his jersey, encapsulated by the reality that it’s all over.

March is different. It’s a silly game to some, a ball through twine strung together to fit on metal. But then again it isn’t. It’s an ice cold December in a gym that takes 30 minutes to heat up, so you do your suicides in sweats. It’s a coach (I swear) intentionally breaking the clock on the wall so we couldn’t tell how long we were actually doing defensive slides. It’s an 85 degree day in a cage at Daytona Beach, with  beautiful co-eds in brightly colored bikinis lining the outsides, making you feel like a celebrity with every shot. It’s a gym in Atlanta with 50,000 people looking on, and millions more on their couches at home.

But it’s also a 2 a.m. in the driveway, with a cold sweat, and neighbors that wish you’d go to bed. It’s a small, stuffy gym in Ohio where you watched your dreams come true for the first time. It’s a blacktop in Iowa, or a school yard just outside of Detroit, where you pick and choose where to dribble, because the cracks in the ground will throw off your handle. It’s a dimly lit gym in the basement of an inner city school deep into the night, where you can hear the roaches scurry under the stage when you flip the lights on.

It’s also people in an office pool, forging relationships based on teams they couldn’t care less about any other time of the year. March makes you find friends you never knew you had, teams you never knew you’d root for, memories you didn’t bother trying to blueprint.

And lastly, it’s a tiny gym in a small town when your back and knees tell you that the game has finally passed you by and a group of kids who ask “are you sure you want to coach us. We’re not very good.” And man, it all comes back.

Three weeks ago, like an old college buddy that just wants to catch up on how things have gone all these years, the game gave me a random call. Ran a mile to the schoolyard to shoot around for an hour, knowing my body would hate me in the morning. Three months ago, it was a half court bank shot coaching in a high school game where what little hate I have left in me was put into the affair. As you age, it becomes easier to forgive. This one team, my heart will never allow me to offer that forgiveness.

I still have nightmares, weekly, about that game. I probably always will. It’s March. It’s basketball. Tears down the eyes of the kids you coach, choking back every emotion you have so to not let them know how much it hurts. It just means more, and if you’ve never done it, you don’t understand it. Crusty high school gym or Cameron Indoor, at its root, it’s all the same.

And another year of it fades from anticipation into reality into memory, gone. We’ll experience too few of these in our natural lives, because rarely does life get any more pure. I heard a song today driving home from church, icy winds whipping “something wicked, this way comes.” Was by the Eli Young Band. Chorus goes “keep on dreaming, even if it breaks your heart.”

Always do that. Always. Goals are only a dream away, the impossible just a strong bout of believing in oneself. For the world is full of cynics. But if you’re smart, you’ll set aside time to remember to dream. For every March, by God, those dreams remind you that they can, in fact, come true.

About the author:

Bart is a  writer for the Hendricks County Flyer.  He also covers college football for Scout.com as well as his own website. He played basketball in college at Indiana University East and apparently he feels that gives him autonomy on writing about college football somehow. In addition to all of this, he enjoys being mediocre at golf, coaching basketball, eating chicken wings, and apparently typing in the third person. He lives at home with his wonderful family, cat, and other generic items.

Please send any suggestions, comments, insults, checks, or cash to bart.doan@flyergroup.com.  If you figure out how to email cash, you’re a genius.

Innocuous Good Person of the Week 17

I know I said I’d try to be better at getting this out for the 17 people that read it (but hey, thanks for commenting, all 17 of you), but I met my December demise at the intersection of  “violently” and “ill.” So I missed like, half of the month with a variety of illnesses, some that were mentally harrowing.

Anyways, we’ll try this again. Maybe I’ll do two this week. Or maybe not. I have another one done, but I don’t know if I should roll with it. It involves my life as a coach, and with that comes divisive opinions. Either way, I’d rather not get sick. I’m backed up on “good people” so we’ll go back to the first. A month or two ago, I went to cover a story for a donation check being given by Bill Estes Ford to a host of groups, and just was minding my own paid business. There was a gentleman there that I’d spoken with before and since he’s always nice to me, we have similar conversational interests like sports, and he’s a genuinely good person it seems like (hence the column now), it seemed natural to shoot the breeze. Josh Laycock was his name.

We asked one another how we were, as normal people do. It usually doesn’t start out with “so, those Oregon Ducks…wow.” Which is one of the most vexing parts of human interaction. For that split second whenever someone asks…be it a casual acquaintance or store clerk…you have that moment of wonder..”should I be honest here, or is that a mean thing to do when the answer is…awfully lousy.?” But when I ask someone how they’re doing, if nothing else, I expect honesty, so I just give it. I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t care enough to hear a short story if applicable about how someone is. Likewise, I don’t sell that snake oil either. If I’m not good and I don’t want to talk about it, I’ll sort of just groan.

Well, on this day it was during a week when I was getting over a hideous back injury. Somehow golf came up, probably because we’d talked about it before. At the time, I was told I probably was done playing until this coming spring. Which is tough, since I consider anything above 10 degrees to be “golf weather” and I also consider golf to be a family member, and would like to spend a little more time with it this year. Josh actually listened to how I was doing, offered a bit of advice from his own back injury, and recommended a place to go on a non-health insured budget. I was a little taken aback (Ha. Ha. Ha. Pun. Intended) because most of the time, I just expect people to say “oh, that’s too bad” and then pretend a comet just flew in the room behind them, forcing Godzilla to rise from beneath the ground, and they just have to turn around and see it.

No such action with Josh. We talked about five minutes, he said he’d text me some advice on where to go, and wished me the best. Magically, over the next 24-48 hours, it’s like Tim Tebow put in a good word for my back. The bulging disc stopped showing pain, and within a month I was okay to take swings on the range. Not too shabby. So I never had to use Josh’s back doctor at Danville Chiropractic.

Well, after being off most of the month, I got back in earnest around Christmas time and had a small pile of mail to go through, which I routinely procrastinated in opening because growing up, my parents always were happier when they went to the mail box and nothing was in it. I know why now. It’s all ads for stuff I shouldn’t buy or eat and bills. Oh, the bills. One of the letters was from Josh. It was a gift certificate to Danville Chiropractic whenever I might feel the need to go. I was pretty flattered to be honest. I don’t accept gifts well and feel indebted horribly for such things.

So I hope in some small way this is my way of paying him back, letting whoever reads this know what a good person Josh Laycock is. It’s not like we’ve played 18 holes or he’s on my rec league basketball team or anything. We’d talked maybe twice previously, yet he thought that much of wanting to help someone that he went through all that trouble. That’s fantastic stuff, and in the grand scheme of things, if we all were more like that…so desiring to help someone else whether you know them intrinsically or not…the world would be a better place. Motivates me.  Hats off to Josh. I’m pounding the golf ball again and got better almost instantly after I talked to him, but the gesture itself was mind blowing.

About the author

Bart is a  writer for the Hendricks County Flyer.  His views do not express those of the Flyer necessarily, or anyone sane for that matter. He also covers college football for Scout.com as well as his own website. He played basketball in college at Indiana University East and apparently he feels that gives him autonomy to write about college football somehow. In addition to all of this, he enjoys being mediocre at golf, coaching basketball, eating chicken wings, and apparently typing in the third person. He lives at home with his wonderful family, cat, and other generic items.

Please send any nice comments, nice suggestions, checks, or cash to his Flyer email address.  If you figure out how to email cash, you’re a genius.

Innocuous Good Person of the Week 17

I know I said I’d try to be better at getting this out for the 17 people that read it (but hey, thanks for commenting, all 17 of you), but I met my December demise at the intersection of  “violently” and “ill.” So I missed like, half of the month with a variety of illnesses, some that were mentally harrowing.

Anyways, we’ll try this again. Maybe I’ll do two this week. This one’s different because it’s the most personal I’ll ever write. There are eight winners this week, and I respect each one of them. As some of the 17 who read this know, I played basketball into college and coach high school now. I cannot play much anymore (that met at the intersection of “old” and “injured”) but I can pass the game on in hopes that it can make the personal contributions to others that it made to me all my life. And throughout the three and a half year’s I’ve done it, I’ve had success. My first full team was three years ago, and if I coach an other 50, it’d be one of the favorite I’d have. They were a scrappy bunch who weren’t great basketball players, but inspired so much with effort and made a deep state tourney run.

My second was at a small private school in Hendricks County called St. Susanna, where I am now. When my brother and I walked in to introduce ourselves, one kid laughed “we’re awful. You sure you wanna coach us?” I laughed. Won’t forget it. Because at that moment I knew we were in the correct place. Anyways, we went undefeated last year in the regular season, winning by an average of 27 points per game. Staggering, I thought. And then promptly lost an overtime game in the state tournament on a last second shot. Sports has a way of dissecting hubris right and quick.

So with one loss to my team, a heavy one, as he was the best individual player my bro and I ever coached, back we came. This year has been trying. We’re suddenly younger and smaller than everyone we play. It’s been my toughest year of coaching, but sometimes those can end up the most rewarding. It’s only January. But the days of bulldozing teams are long gone.

Last night, we had a game against a team that personally, to me, meant the world that we show up and give our best effort. More than any game I’ve ever played in, coached, whatever. Wasn’t really for me. What I saw was nothing like I’ve seen since basketball became a year-round passion for me when I was about 10. I’ve played through college. Several nights a week down at Ben Davis in the salty heated summers. At Ellis Park, where emotions tended to run high. Even played pickup ball at now defunct St. Anthony’s down off of Warman Ave.

Never, ever, have I seen a powder keg of a gym like that. Within five minutes, three of the other teams players were kicked out. Then a coach. Then a referee had to go to the stands to try to calm parents down. Then there was a sojourn to mid court where one of the heads of our program had to give a fierce speech on sportsmanship. It was pretty dreadful, because they should be hard fought games without the histrionics.

But with all that background, enough. I’m not listing the other team’s name, because that’s unfair to do to them. And I cannot tell anyone how proud I was at times of the eight kids on my bench. One of my kids got his head slammed into the wall when the ref’s back was turned, he got up and walked away, albeit woozy. Several collisions happened. Every time, in spite of being constantly cursed at, cheap-shotted, and called names, every one extended a hand to help the opponent up. Not a single time did one of them back talk the officials.

As for the basketball, that was not innocuous at all. We were as bad as we’ve ever been, and missing my center for the night, easily the most athletically intimidating player I coach, we lost on a half court shot that banked in. The other team dog piled in front of my bench. I got heckled personally a bit (actually, quite a bit, and from people I genuinely tried to help in my life), and the sting will never fade, to be honest. I harbor, if nothing else, a lengthy memory. Sports has dealt me over my life, a remarkable amount of bitter pills. None worse than that night in that small, sweaty gym.

But in the end, emerged with a basketball team that was undermanned and honestly, didn’t put up the effort necessary for some reason, but they emerged as good people. They emerged as mature individuals who could separate themselves from that powder keg. It’s not easy to take a punch to the back, a shove in the head, and still be okay helping up the guy doing it. Yeah, we had immature moments, self probably included, but from a sportsmanship perspective, it was a blowout win. Something maybe that wasn’t always the case last year. Just gotta start getting a few more real ones now…

About the author

Bart is a  writer for the Hendricks County Flyer.  His views do not express those of the Flyer necessarily, or anyone sane for that matter. He also covers college football for Scout.com as well as his own website. He played basketball in college at Indiana University East and apparently he feels that gives him autonomy to write about college football somehow. In addition to all of this, he enjoys being mediocre at golf, coaching basketball, eating chicken wings, and apparently typing in the third person. He lives at home with his wonderful family, cat, and other generic items.

Please send any nice comments, nice suggestions, checks, or cash to his Flyer email address.  If you figure out how to email cash, you’re a genius.

Innocuous Good Person of the Week 16

I like donuts. A lot. Being as that I’m somewhere between 8 to 10 percent body fat, I can get away with liking donuts a lot. And when I get the liking for donuts enough, I rattle on off to Dunkin Donuts in Brownsburg. They have these chocolate frosting ones with chunks of mint on the top. I’d argue there’s nothing better on the planet to eat, and I’d be right. Wouldn’t even need a lawyer.

 Anyways, I started going to Dunkin Donuts about a year ago or so as a ritual sometimes with my kid. I figure nothing screams “wonderful dad” like “hey, you wanna go get donuts and call it ‘breakfast?’”

 So that’s where it started. You know how it goes. You go some place enough, you start to recognize the employees. Every time I go in there, a lady named Denize is working. I mean, I’ve gone at all variety of days, and she’s always working. Solid stuff.

 Anyways, a few thousand people probably rattle through there a day, and I typically go in there looking like something off of a truck stop horror movie scene, same ratty Patriots knit cap, some variety of poorly constructed sweats. So I don’t stand out.

 Went one morning with the whole clan for breakfast. Denize was working, mostly I think because they were…uh…open. And we get up to the counter, and she greets my son warmly, wife warmly, myself warmly. As employees do. I thought not much of it other than the usual good service.

 But since my wife had never been there, and it’s sort of a place from my youth that stands out, the Dunkin Donuts on the corner of the street we lived a block over from in Michigan, the restaurant carries a special place to me a bit. I know this isn’t on the outskirts of Detroit, but still, it does.

 Denize really, really warmly starts explaining all the stuff they have, what’s good, what we should try, what her favorites are, and you know, you could tell she was really into just being a nice person.

 When I went to pay, I handed my credit card, which I always and would advise anyone to put “check ID before using” only with a check mark. If you just put “check ID” it seems like people just glance, the way liquor store people do when they know you’re like 40 but they have to check anyways as per store policy, and swipe it. You draw the little check mark, people notice. And they check. At about a 50 percent clip, up from the 10 percent it was.

 Well, she looks up and says “oh, I know you. You’re in here a lot.” And then says something along the lines of but I don’t remember exactly, about it being sweet that I bring my son in there with me. Kinda made me feel decent.

 She punched my little card that lets me know I drink too much coffee, and then hands it back and says that I am at the limit and that I get a free one. Normally, a person would say “next time.” But she literally right there took one of the coffees I’d bought off the bill right then and there.

 Every time I go in now, before I leave, she’s offering to refill my cup. I don’t know if that’s DD policy. I don’t really care if it is. All I know is, I don’t get treated like that at most places, if anywhere. Denize works hard at her gig, and the reality is that I probably wouldn’t be going anywhere else even if she didn’t, but I can say that if an employee is rude, nah, I won’t go back. I have long standing grudges against several eateries.

 So more than anything, out of the ironic chances someone who works above her reads this (heck, it worked for other places), I hope Denize gets recognized as a pretty awesome employee and a person that keeps customers coming back. That’s the whole point of the Innocuous Good Person of the Week. Anyways, I need more coffee. So have a good day, and Go Patriots.

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