Archive for the ‘sports’ Category


The Greatest Winter Day of My Life

January 29, 2014

blizzardIt is never a good sign when you look out the window and the snow is falling sideways. When you can look for miles in a city and not see a single car on the road, you know you are experiencing some kind of Snowpocalyse.

My daughter is living currently in Chicago and experiencing a week of arctic conditions. She ends every Facebook status with “#Chiberia”. I’ll let you figure that one out.

Her winter problems reminded me of the worst and best days of my wintering life–and they were the same day. We lived in Canada for many years and moved to Montana in 1989. In 1996, Montana suffered through the worst winter conditions on record. That winter, 17 feet of snow came down on Northwest Montana. So much snow pelted the ground that my boys made a toboggan run off the roof of the garage and were able to schloss down their manufactured run without any jump. Yes, it was that much snow.

Between Christmas and New Years’ the snow starting falling heavily and the wind picked up to 40 mph. It was coming down from the north and did not stop for three days. After the first day, the snowplows gave up trying to clear the drifts off the main highways and everyone was advised to stay in and wait out the blizzard. Montanans live for these kind of days; it gives them a sense of achievement similar to Californians tanning without burning. I digress.

The only person not happy with staying indoors during the blizzard was my wife. Normally, she is more than content with snuggling by a fire, reading a good book and napping. But she also is the most dedicated worker I know and she was supposed to show up at the hospital for her shift as a nurse.

My wife worked on a heart Telemetry unit at the Kalispell Regional Medical Center. They worked 12 hour shifts and hers started in a half hour. The phone lines were not working, so Kathy couldn’t call the hospital to find out if they were expecting her. But after looking at the closed highway, she realized they probably needed her desperately. The nurses working these 12 hour shifts could not go home until they were replaced. No one was driving in or out of town at all, so we figured these nurses who had been looking after patients all day would have to continue in that vein for another 24 hours. That’s when I got a bright idea.

We only lived about 6 blocks from the hospital, straight down Highway 93. We had done cross-country skiing for years and now we could put good vocational use to the sport. Since we had both grown up in Canada, we were well stocked with all the accouterment clothing for frigid weather, including long, thermal underwear. We layered on the garments, pulled on our ski boots and headed out the door. It took us almost a half hour to navigate the drifts and bare spots on the road in near zero visibility, but we did arrive at the hospital doors right as her shift was supposed to start.

As we sloshed down the hallway, the nurses on duty just stared at us as if we were living snowmen. Kathy was able to relieve a couple of them, allowing them a few hours sleep. Over the next 24 hours, they were able to keep spelling each other off in 3 hour increments, thereby giving some of the most medically fragile patients the best care.

The next day the road was still closed, so I skied back up to the hospital and retrieved her. I remember stopping at one point on the way home and looked into her frost-covered face. She was smiling with a tenacity I had never seen on her before. She was actually enjoying this!

There is something about conquering adversity and overcoming obstacles that thrills the human soul. It is ironic we spend most of our lives wishing for comfort and ease when what we really enjoy is the challenge of living.

Perhaps we should think a little longer about how much comfort we really need.



One of the Most Wonderful Letters a President Ever Wrote

February 20, 2012

In the 1993 NCAA basketball finals, Chris Webber and his Michigan Wolverines were down by two points with several seconds left. On the inbounds pass, Webber called a timeout – except he didn’t have a timeout left! Because of that blunder, they lost the championship. It was one of the greatest mistakes ever made by a star athlete.

Several months later, President Bill Clinton sent Chris Webber the following letter:

Dear Chris,

I have been thinking of you a lot since I sat glued to the TV during the championship game.

I know that there may be nothing I or anyone else can say to ease the pain and disappointment of what happened.

Still, for whatever it’s worth, you, and your team, were terrific. And part of playing for high stakes under great pressure is the constant risk of mental error. I know. I have lost two political races and made countless mistakes over the last twenty years. What matters is the intensity, integrity, and courage you bring to the effort. That is certainly what you have done. You can always regret what occurred but don’t let it get you down or take away the satisfaction of what you have accomplished.

You have a great future. Hang in there.

Bill Clinton

I can only imagine the impact that letter had on Chris Webber. As a Sacramento Kings fan, I saw Webber turn into one of the greatest power forwards of all time. I believe that Clinton’s letter was one of the things that helped him get over his mistake.

Do you have a letter like that in you today? Is there a “failure” in your life that could  use a letter of encouragement?


My Tribute to Phil Jackson

May 9, 2011

For non-basketball fans, Phil Jackson is the just-retired coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. For basketball fans, he retires as the most successful coach of all time – winning 11 championships and having the highest winning percentage of all time. He rarely if ever lost his temper on the court, perfecting the gracious annoyance look. He had a lot of chance to practice that last night. But I digress.

My tribute to Coach Phil comes from my only encounter with him. As very few people know, he began his coaching career at a little high school (Bigfork High) in Northwest Montana. It just happens to be a few miles from where I lived for many years. In the summers, after basketball was retired for the season, he would retreat back to that pristine area and enjoy himself with his wife and five kids.

1996 marked what may be the pinnacle of Phil’s career. His team, the Chicago Bulls won an unprecendented 72 out of 82 games. They went on to beat the Seattle Supersonics in 6 games to win another NBA title. Then, several of the Bulls went on to anchor the USA Men’s basketball team in the Olympics that summer.

During the Olympics, I was working out at the gym connected to the hospital where my wife worked. After my workout, I went upstairs to get a smoothie. As I sat watching the previews for that night’s basketball game, I heard this deep-throated chuckle beside me. It was Phil Jackson, getting a kick out of something his guys were doing on the screen. I figured if he was sitting out in public like that I could at least say something to him. But I didn’t want to faun all over him or say something stupid, so I adopted Workout Casual as my approach.

“So are you going to watch the guys play tonight?” I asked. It seemed casual and yet “with it” enough for banter.

He looked at me with a wry Phil smile and took a big gulp of his drink. Then he laughed. “Nope. I’ve watched WAY too much of all of them this year.”

I like a guy who takes his work seriously and then leaves it behind when he goes home. Have a happy retirement Phil.


Very Mixed Golf Results

June 17, 2008

How great is a blog? I can brag, whine and moan all within its confines.

Yesterday, I hit a 38 on the front nine, the best score this year. That included 3 birdies, two of them coming on par 5s. However, Don and I had to play with two of the biggest jerks we have yet encountered. The one guy wandered in front of our putts, talked while we hit, swore continually for no reason and made fun of us when they thought we couldn’t hear. We could.

The other guy is now in my Hall of Fame for Sanctification testers: A guy who hits a better shot than mine to a par 3 green and swears like he shanked it. I don’t even know what to call him.

When I got up to tee off on ten, I took a humongous swing and threw out my back. Considering it saved me from these two missing links, and considering my back doesn’t hurt this morning, I think God was doing me a favor.


Is there a Word for it?

May 28, 2008

This is for golfers primarily. We need a word for that putt you take after the putt you missed you were sure you would make. We have all done it. The five-footer that had your name on it pretended like it didn’t know you. Then, after you miss it, forswear grounding your putter on the green in case there is a marshall lurking in the bushes, you pull back the putt and try it again. Everyone knows you won’t count this one, but your ego and desire to improve (are they the same thing?) requires that you try it again. Twice is probably the limit for such a putt. If you don’t make it by then, it was not to be.

But, returning to the question: What should we call that putt? I would like to hear from my golfing lurkers on this one.

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