Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Change in Life, A Change in Priorities

Two years ago this weekend, I was in Richmond, Virginia, sitting on press row as I was "covering" the 2012 CAA Tournament for my site as well as for the Mid Majority's 800 Games Played Project.  The CAA Tournament was responsible for ten of my fifty nine Division One games I covered that season.

To me, I wasn't "covering" the CAA Tournament, I was really more soaking in the CAA Tournament, a part of a sold out Richmond Coliseum crowd.  It was the year after three CAAHoops teams made the NCAA Tournament, fulfilling the hashtag dream of #3Bids4CAA. I was there among good friends, either super fans, bloggers or writers;Defiantly Dutch, aka my "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" partner in crime, my good friend Jerry Beach, Mike Brodsky, Joe Suhoski, Tom Block, GheorgetheBlog, Batogato,VCUPav, Mason Fanatic, Geoff Sorensen, Josh Verlin, Matt Cerilli, Rob Canady and Brian Mull.

It was one of the most awesome, fun, rewarding experiences of my life.

Two years later on a Friday night in Columbia, South Carolina, instead of watching my alma mater, Hofstra face UNCW on "Pillow Fight Friday" in the first round of the CAA Tournament, I spent five hours helping clean up a rain mired Little League Field for an Opening Day Ceremony that next day.  I ended up soaking in dirty rain water as several of my fellow Trenholm Little League board members, volunteers and I dried off the field to get it ready for over three hundred kids to parade around it on Saturday.

It was one of the most awesome, fun, rewarding experiences of my life.

So what changed?  Isn't this The College Hardwood?  Shouldn't I be in Baltimore, Maryland, among several of my CAAHoops friends to take in the first CAA Tournament outside of Richmond in like forever?

Life changed.

In August, 2012, as my loyal readers, aka "The Few, the Proud, the Followers of my site" know, I accepted a position at the University of South Carolina Law School.   The job has been terrific and I have never been happier than I am today in both my job and my life outside my job.

But I didn't fully comprehend that moving down south also results in seasons becoming longer and starting sooner.   Well, actually I sort of did know.  The main reason I am down here is because my color analyst, aka my older son Matthew, signed off on coming down here.  Despite moving away from several dear school friends, all of them who I coached in Little League up in North Bellmore, Matthew was looking forward to playing baseball ten months of the year.

And that really is the baseball season here.  From February to November, you are practicing and playing baseball.  Spring Season starts here the first week of February with our baseball evaluations and draft.  And you are playing till fall ball till mid November.  Literally, my year of baseball ended on November 14 when we lost in the winner take all Minors Fall League Championship game.

Up in New York, Little League baseball season doesn't start until late April.  Thus, you can fully involve yourself in March Madness. You can spend your first weekend in March from 2003 to 2012 going to the CAA Tournament in Richmond, Virginia when you live in New York (I missed the 2010 CAA Tournament due to my younger son's kidney surgery).

The past two years, I have spent my first weekend in March being a part of Opening Day at Trenholm Park in Forest Acres, South Carolina.  And there's no other way I would rather spend it.

As much as I love college basketball, I love coaching Little League even more.  I was coaching Matthew in Little League in North Bellmore, New York for two years before I moved down here.  Now I am coaching both Matthew and his younger brother, Jonathan, and have been since spring of 2013.  I am the head coach of a Jonathan's tee ball team and the co head-coach of Matthew's minors team.  And when I am not coaching, I am umpiring, scorekeeping or announcing Little League games.

As much as I "experienced" live college basketball, I am experiencing baseball even more.  And it's not just me, it's also my wife Michelle.  Chelle is my bench coach on my tee ball team and has been for the past three seasons.  She keeps the kids organized and ready to bat in the dugout, she assists with practices, she even made the banners for both my teams for the parade on Saturday.  Chelle has even advised me on my tee ball practices this season.  And in her spare time, she even works the canteen at Trenholm Park when I am not coaching/umpiring etc.  Plus, she makes one hell of a baseball banner.

Baseball has very much become a family affair for us.   Just about all my friends down here are from Little League and it's a family affair for them too.  Little League baseball has now become my passion, above college basketball.  And it's something I truly share with my entire family

Last March, after Opening Day on Saturday, I still had a chance to go to the Sunday Semifinals of the 2013 CAA Tournament in Richmond, likely the last ever CAA tournament held in Richmond.  Matthew had Coach Pitch Baseball practice that next day on Sunday.  I was an assistant coach on his team, but I figured I could miss one practice and make the trip up to Richmond.  I asked Matthew if he would be OK if I went to the CAA Tournament and missed practice.

My college basketball loving son, who accompanied me on many games during the 2011-12 college basketball season, thought for a moment and said "Dad, I want you at practice there coaching me."  It's all he had to say.

And that was enough for me.

So I missed the 2013 CAA Tournament.  And Saturday, while my alma mater played gallantly but lost to Delaware in the second round of the CAA Tournament in Baltimore, I was at Trenholm Park, on a beautiful sunny day with 300 plus kids, their parents, local dignitaries and guests like University of South Carolina Hall of Famer and current Gamecock football announcer Todd Ellis.  Our Opening Day ceremony was fantastic and was even covered by local media.

That doesn't mean The College Hardwood is going away any time soon or that I no longer will cover college basketball in March.   I will be at the Big South Conference championship game today and I will be attending the second and third regional rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Raleigh on March 21 and 23.  You can be sure that I will be writing about both of those.

It's just there has been a change of priorities.  And often, that's a good thing.

Cheryl Crow was right.  "A Change Will Do You Good".

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