Friday, January 27, 2006

Dear "Coach"

In reading the newspaper, visiting with other parents and students at CHS, I often hear that kids don't go out for sports because they are too lazy or don't want to put any effort into sports. I hear confusion about why a school this size doesn't have better athletic programs. After watching for a season, I think I have some answers.
I started the year knowing that my son, Andy was going out for basketball. I didn't anticipate him starting varsity, or even starting the B or C teams. He didn't anticipate starting either, but loves basketball and wanted to be a part of the team. I realize that he doesn't have a killer competitive instinct, nor a lot of talent, but I do realize that he does enjoy being a part of a team. And I did anticipate that he'd be a part of the team, that he'd feel a part of the team. I anticipated that he'd participate in practices and learn. I'm sorry to say, that none of our expectations (mine and Andy's) were met.
I've watched several practices. Why? Because, Andy isn’t old enough to drive and he has to depend on me to get to and from practice and games. (Not often convenient for those who live outside the city limits, or work full time.) I also wanted to get a feel for your program. I was not impressed by what I witnessed.
I watched 4-6 boys spend lots of time watching practice. Granted, not everyone can be on the floor, but couldn't you have had someone work on drills with these boys? Work on passing, dribbling, both to improve and to keep their muscles warm. When these boys did get a chance to get on the floor and run plays, they were cold, and made mistakes. Instead of making those mistakes into a learning session, or waiting and giving their muscles time to warm up, they ran stairs. For 10-15-20 minutes or longer. What did they learn?
They learned that if you make a mistake, you are punished. They also learned that they weren't important--I noted on two separate occasions boys ran until you "remembered" they were running. And I heard 2 different coaches note that they had forgotten they boys were running. I noted that not one varsity player ran. They did 10 push-ups and then re-ran the drill--in order to learn. But these other boys, on the C-team, learned to run stairs--not how to play basketball.

During the Orange and Black Classic Tournament, 4 boys were told not to bother coming to practice. At first, I thought that only the varsity boys were practicing, which made sense, as they were the only ones playing in the tournament. When I found out that these 4 boys were singled out and not wanted at practice, well, I became angry. What message did that send to those boys? It told me that--they aren't valuable, they aren't any good, and the coach and the team didn’t want to deal with them. It tells your varsity players (and those B and C team who did practice) that those who aren't as good as they are on the court aren't worth having around, or having on your team. It says they aren't a real part of the team.
Isn't basketball at the high school level for fun? Aren't you a TEACHER first? Don't you want to teach these kids to love the sport and to have fun? From what I've witnessed, I'd say no. There were many teaching moments. Not one single coach took the time to teach, rather, all chose to punish. Four boys, who loved basketball, now dislike it. Four boys, who could cheer on their team mates, four boys who could have felt good about being a part of the TEAM were told they weren't wanted. That is such a good way to promote school pride and school spirit. These boys were told that if you aren't good enough to play, then we don't need you to be there with us or even for us.
Again, I want to stress that my expectations were rather low. But I am very disappointed in how these boys were treated and in the messages sent. I think I now understand why Colby doesn't have a good athletic program. If you want a good program, you have to work with the underclassmen, build upon their strengths, teach them, be patient, and make them want to come back year after year. Your varsity team is only as good as your B and C teams. I'd guess that you'll lose these 4 and probably many more boys over the next 2 years. And, it isn't because they don’t want to work, or aren't willing to work, it's because they got the message--they aren't worth your time and aren't wanted on your team.
As a parent of a boy who loved basketball, I find it sad to watch him slowly lose that joy--that excitement. I have a kid who won't cause waves, who doesn't complain. He might not be the best player, he would never be a starter, or one with much floor time, but he could be a great member of the team, one who was always there, who always worked, one to cheer on the rest, one to help out the up-coming underclassmen. But, I don't think he'll go out again. He now thinks he's worthless and that he'll never be any good. If he chooses to try again, I'll support his decision, but not your program. The booster club won't be getting my money. And that’s too bad.

Today is my birthday

Today is my birthday and I'm 42. This birthday snuck up on me. In the past, I've watched the calendar, and paid attention to how many days till my birthday. I'd think about how it will feel to be 21, or 25, 30, 40. But now, eehhh. It's another day. Really. I really could care less that it's my birthday. I came to work--like any other day. I work. We did have treats, but we do that every-so-often. Tonight, Andy will have a basketball game. I'll get to sit and watch him sit on the bench. Yipee. That's exciting. I'll fret about him wanting to play and not getting to. Then, we'll go home, get ready for bed and go. Might be some good nooky time, might not be. (I hope so, cause I like it!)

But, no real big parties, no special presents. Mom already got me some things that I needed and wanted (2 cross stitch kits which I'll use different fabric on, and some glass storage dishes for leftovers.) The kids never get me a gift. I'd rather Kev fix a couple of things at home rather than buy me something that I don't really need. (Unless it's those binoculars with digital camera built in, or boot blankets for hunting...) No cake, cause we won't be at home. No special supper, (same reason.) And, I really don't care. I even have to stop and think about how old I am. Age just doesn't matter. I feel good, I"m healthy. I have a wonderful marriage and good kids. I have a home I love. Pretty much normal. Why make a big deal about being a year older? It just doesn't matter. So, my life isn't really changing just cause I'm 42 today. And I'm ecstatic.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I'm a reader

I'm a reader. A voracious reader. I've had a book in my hand from the time I learned to read. When I was in 4-H, I kept a list of all the books I read. I started it again in 2003. It's an excel file and I just add to it as I finish a book. Last year, in 2005, I read only 36 books. Well, only 36 that I wrote down. I don't usually re-write my re-reads. I usually re-read some of my favorite authors--like Anne McCaffrey's PERN books, or Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series and usually the Harry Potter series.

I like re-reading old favorites because, well, I know the story, but sometimes the details register more on the second, third, or 4th reading. And, they are old friends, so it's nice to revisit them. I tend to re-read when I need some escape, some comfort. Sometimes I finish a book, sometimes, I just read what I need to "get my fix" and then I stop, and put them back on the shelf.

I also only buy and keep those I know I will re-read. Other books, I will borrow from the library--either our library or I'll Interlibrary Loan them in. Sometimes they are books I'm considering buying for the library, sometimes they are titles I want to read, but can't justify buying them for the library.

I don't buy books. A reader who doesn't buy books. Well, I do buy a few--those re-reads and I usually buy the Nora Roberts books. Those, I read and donate to the library. My re-reads are MINE. I do not share them.

Looking at my list, there are some trends. I seem to prefer women writers. I also seem to avoid most of the mainstream popular writers. I've never read Tom Clancey, or Danielle Steele. I don't do mysteries. I like some sci-fi, some fantasy, lots of time-travel, some romance, some general fiction that doesn't fit any category. I really like to read biographies and non fiction. Yup, that's weird, but who cares.

I read everywhere. While eating breakfast at the table, I've got a book or a magazine. Magazines are easier at the table. I read in the bathroom--while bathing and while not bathing. :) I read while watching TV and I read in bed. The only place I can't read is in a car. I get car sick, which is odd, because for 13 years, I read while on the schoolbus.

Right now, I'm reading two books--Wild Seasons: Gathering and Cooking Wild Plants of the Great Plains and and Anne McCaffrey book.

You'd think as a librarian, that I'd read at work. Unfortunately, nope, no time. Well, I do read book reviews and journal articles and some scientific articles to keep current on search terms and topics for students. Right now, I should be reading a report, but it's dry and I'm tired. Now, if I could read my Anne McCaffrey work...well, I'm not too tired for that!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Happy birthday bro

Today is my little brother's birthday. He turns 41 today, and he's not so "little". He's 6'3" or 4" and probably 210 lbs. He out grew me a long time ago. And, I'm so glad he did. For our entire growing up years, I was WAY bigger than he was. I hated it. I was teased and called "fat" and he was so little, skinney, and shrimpy. I so wanted to be like him. He was popular, had lots of friends, I had a few. He was very athletic. I had to bust my butt. He never stood up for me either. That so annoyed me. I wanted a "BIG" brother--one older and bigger who would stand up for me. Instead, I got this little brother who was also11 months younger than me.

I had my revenge tho--our history teacher in HS called him Shelly once in class. HA! He was mortified.

He's become someone I really like rather than someone I tolerate or someone I fight with--even to the point of chasing him down the hallway with a paring knife. (I wouldn't have used it, but dang it, I'm the big sister and he should do what I say and not make me so darn mad. It didn't help that he was laughing as he was running away from me.)

Now, we call each other with troubles. Me less than him because I have Kev and he's still single. I pray all the time that he finds someone to love. Someone to love him back. He's got a lot of love, to give, but is afraid. He's been hurt so many times, and this last time, well....I think that now he keeps women at arms distance. It will take a special, stubborn woman to break down those walls he built.

I love watching him with his boys though. Twins. They are so very much like their dad, and yet so very different from their dad and from each other. But I really saw my brother show love to those little boys--from the day they were born. He was loving, affectionate and actually took care of them. Showing affection to his sister was always something he was not good at--still isn't, but he can show love and affection to his boys. At times, I think he's a better parent than I am, but then I have to remember that our kids are very different, and our parenting is very different.

Because there are just the two of us, he calls me Sis. I never even noticed what he called me until Kevin pointed it out to me. Now, I do notice, and it makes me warm inside.

I see a great deal of my brother in my son. That's good, except when Andy (my son) is in trouble and I yell "Damnit Steve" instead of "Andy." We all laugh about it, but I know I do it because they react so very much the same. And, I love them both

Happy birthday bro. I love ya.

Friday, January 13, 2006

My first bow kill

Finally. I finally got a deer with my bow. It took me two years--two full seasons to do it, but I did it!

Last year, I used Lynn's bow. Why? Well, it was my first time bowhunting and I wasn't going to invest in all the STUFF unless I liked it. I knew I would, but didn't know if I would like it enough to really commit myself. So, we got arrows cut for me and my drawlength. We set the bow at 45 pounds, I practiced and practiced and practiced. We sighted in sights, the guys taught me which sight pin to use where. We all know that I suck at judging distances. (I think that's one skill that guys have that girls have to learn.)

Opening weekend--Kevin broke his bow the day before, which is bad, but that was great in my mind because this way he could sit in the tree with ME and help me. But, first, I had to get out of bed--at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m. We had an hours drive and then have to get into our trees in the dark. Great, walking into a pasture, into trees in the dark. Find the right tree in the dark. Climb up into the treestand in the dark. Can I do this? Alone?

Kevin and I walked into what we now call "my tree". There were two stands there since we don't have any two man stands. I was warned that we might not see anything, that the deer might not come close enough to shoot. Ok, fine. We'll get down at 10. TEN--that's THREE hours from now. How am I going to sit still for T-H-R-E-E hours--how am I going to be quiet, what if I have to go to the bathroom?

Around 8, Kev informed me that there was a buck about 50 yards away, coming right down the trail that would come right under my stand. He whispered "Stand up and get your bow ready. Don't draw back until you've got a good shot." Ok. I can do this. I see the buck. He's a nice 3 x 3. Not big, not little, and holy cow, how cool would it be to get a buck on my veryfirstdayout! Way cool. He is so considerate too, he walks along the trail and then he cuts off it a little bit, right in front of me. I put my sight pin on him, draw back, and fleelt--he takes off running hell-bent-for. I killed a dead tree--on the ground.

"Which pin did you use?"

"My first one. Was that the right one?"

Damn. You should have used the second pin. O well, at least we won't have to cut him up in this 80 degree weather."

Unfortuantely, that was my only opportunity to shoot that entire season. But, I learned that I liked being in the treestand. I liked watching animals come and go. I liked watching them, knowing that they couldn't see me and didn't know I was there. I got to see some deer do some serious deer-flirting. No mating, but flirting. That was fun. And, secretly, I was very glad that they didn't come by close enough for me to shoot. Because, well, what if I missed?

This year, I had my own bow, a nice, light small Browning Microadvantage bow. I love it! It's quiet, light, and it's mine. 45 lb draw. Mine.

Opening day, in my tree. Kevin is in HIS tree--across the river which is dry. 7:30 a.m. I can barely make out two--at least two--bucks getting a drink from a waterhole in the river just 40 yards east of my tree. I wait. It's lighter, I can see. I'm ready. Gosh, two years in a row, opening day shots! I'm going to make THIS shot.

The bucks cooperate, walk right in front of me. I draw, shoot....and did I hit him? Not sure. Yep, I got him. No, I didn't. I know which way he ran. Wonder if he died? Well, I'll wait till we get down at 10 to go look.

Then, 3 doe come out of the trees right to Kevin. I silently stand there, watch those deer beg him to shoot at them. He doesn't. I'll bet he wants a buck. 10:00 comes and Kev walks to me. I tell him to look for my arrow, it's right where I think it should be, but no blood on it. Kev was pretty sure I missed. Dang it. Two opening mornings, two missed shots. Maybe I'm not ever going to get a deer.

Every single weekend, we go sit. I try my tree, I try Kevin's tree. I try the tree at Helburgs. Nothin. Nada. No dang deer come by me. O sure, they go by everybody else. Kevin gets a deer. Lynn gets a deer. Gene hits two, but we never can find either. That sucks, but at least he hit something! At least he had a shot!

Last day--December 31, 2005. My last chance. Kevin got a deer on the second weekend. It was another suicidal doe. Really--she walked in circles around his tree. Watching from across the river, it was like she was daring him "do you want to shoot me here, how bout here? Is this a better spot? Nanner nanner, can't shoot me." She's now in our freezer.

My gut says that on this last day, I need to be on the north side of the river. I've seen lots of deer this season, none close enough to shoot at, but there's deer. So, I inform my wonderful husband that I need to cross the river and I'll sit in his tree. The river, dry early in the season is now running. It's about 2 feet deep and 10 feet wide. I take trashbags to put over my feet to get across without getting wet. In the dark, white trashbags. Fine. Wade across. Trashbags have holes in them. That water is COLD! I'll live. Lots of willows and cattails here along the bank. I think I sound like a herd of elephants moving through here. Oops, I hear a deer up above me in a clearing take off. Dang. That was probably the only deer I'll see all freekin day. And I didn't even see it! Finally, I'm at my tree. Unhook the string, attach bow. drop glove. Pick up glove. Climb treestand. Pull up bow. Drop glove. Forget stupid glove. Hook up safety belt, put arrow on bow. Now, where to hang bow. My hand is cold, the bow is cold--too cold to hold. Hang bow. Shoot, I can't reach that bow hanging there. I'll just sit down and think about this.

Crap. There's a doe. I'm not ready! Ok, I'll just stand up. I have my bow. No, if I stand up, she'll see me and run. Crap. What do I do. Ok. ...when she goes behind that tree, I can stand. Crap, she's already past that tree. Ok, shoot her sitting down. Crap. I'm not comfortable shooting from this position. Crap.

I wind up just watching this nice little doe walk by. She takes 3-5 steps, pauses, sniffs and walks on. No idea I'm here.

Crap. What am I going to tell the guys? They are going to shoot ME! I just let her mosey on her own way. Crap. Let's get this story straight. I shot and missed. Nope, I want a buck. That's my story. Crap, it's last day. They won't buy that one. What's that sound? Whoohoo! a buck! Holy cow, a buck! O crap, I gotta get ready!

Mr. Buck is behind me, getting a drink. I stand up. He turns around and walks straight up the treerow.

Crap--he's gonna cross my scent trail. Crap. he's gonna run. O wait...

His tail comes up, he smelled somthing strange, but he's not running away. He's still coming. I know, he's going to go straight to that doe's trail. Perfect. I draw back. I keep my eye on him. I keep my finger off the trigger of my release. He stops at the doe's trail, put's his head down and sniffs. He slightly quarters away. I can see the sholder bone, I see the pocket. I hit the release. Pfleet. I got him! I know I got him! I see him jump, I see the arrow hit! I got him! He's running.

Ok. Check the time. 8:25 a.m. Ok. you've gotta wait at leat 30 minutes. That'll be 9. We're getting down at 9:30. I'll wait till 9:15 then track him. I know I got him. I'll bet Kevin saw him go by! What time is it? 8:30. Shoot. It's going to be a long 45 minutes. I hope it was a good shot. I think it was a good shot. What if the arrow just hit a rib and bounced out. Shoot. I want a deer. What time is it? 8:35. Shoot. What if I just wounded him. What if we push him when we start tracking. Ok, we'll just be careful. Nope, it was a good shot. I know it. Yep, I got him. Let's see...he's a 2 x 2. Ok. What time is it? 8:40. Shoot. How far away was he? Probably 20 yards. Ok. I know right where he was--by that clump of grass. Ok. What time is it? 8:45. Shoot.

9:15. I can now crawl down and check for blood. Put bow on stringer, unhook safety belt, climb down. Pick up bow. I quietly walk over to where I hit the deer. BLOOD! I have blood! Ok, I don't want to go right after him, I think I'll follow the river back over to Kevin. I'll try to go quietly, just in case my buck is bedded down close by. Don't want to push him.

9:25 I'm still sounding like an elephant in these willows and cat tails. How do those deer move so quietly? Where the heck is Kevin. He's gotta be here somewhere. I hate camo clothing, cause it works! "Blaah" Ok, that's Kev, I see him now too. And he says, way too loudly...

"Did you get that doe?"

"shhh. I got a buck!"

"What about that doe?"

"Shut up! I got a buck, didn't you see him run by?"

"I never saw a buck, what about that doe?"

"I didn't shoot at her."

"Why not, didn't she come right by you?"

"Forget her, yes, I wasn't ready. I got a buck!"

"What! you let her walk right by you?"

"Dang it, forget her, I SHOT A BUCK. I HAVE BLOOD."

"Oh. Ok, I'll cross over and we can track her. I can't believe you let that doe walk right by you! I just knew you got her!"

We walk up the bank to the clearing. Kev tells me to walk straight up till I hit blood and then we'll track him. So I walk, no blood. Crap, maybe it wasn't a good shot after all.

"Shelly, come here."

He's got blood. So I track. Here's blood, here's some, oh, here's a lot of blood. This spot has bubbles in it--that means it's a lung, right? Here's some, blood. Ok, back up to last spot, turn looking for more...

SMACK--I smack my loving, wonderful husband's sholder.

"Dang it Kevin, he's right here on the ground--and you knew it all along. You were sitting right across the river! He died right in front of you!"

It's a good kill. My arrow is through him, but he fell on it and bent it. O well. The fletching is the only part of the arrow sticking out of the entry wound. Perfect shot. My first deer! A nice 2 x 2 buck. Small, but who cares! I CAN bow hunt.

I'm going on a limb here

I'm starting a blog. Might not even tell anyone where it is and just let them find it on it's own. Well, if anyone would think to look. Maybe I'll have to tell someone...just not sure who. Maybe I'll wait a while and see.

I like to write, and I like folks to read what I write, but...I hate asking someone to read. Maybe that's why I have my notebook on my desk where I write down what is on my mind, that won't leave me alone, that I want to remember someday, that I want my kids to read. Sometimes it's a compulsion, sometimes not. Sometimes I'll write it in my mind first and then write it down later--but it's never as good as the version in my head.

I've read cowtown Stacy's entire blog and I love it! But, then again, I love reading her album pages that she shares on scrapshare. I'm not that creative, but thought I'd just be me here and not try to be heror anyone else for that matter. But, she did inspire me to take the leap into this blogging world. I've been reading about it a long time, many many librarians blog regularly--and well. Many scrapbookers do as well. Homesteaders? Not sure about that group, but I'd bet some would.

So, here it is, my lunch hour, and I'm typing dribble. Guess that's my first blog--dribble. So, what do I want to say? Guess I'll know when it comes to me.