TEAM FREDETTE

TEAM FREDETTE…..It’s a name in the sport’s world that was first known nationally because of the TBT basketball tournament.  TBT stands for THE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT so putting the basketball tournament at the end of that last sentence is sort of redundant but it’s for those that aren’t aware of those initials. 

Last year in the 2018 TBT, Team Fredette came up just short of the finals in a thrilling succession of wins to get there. Jimmer played on the team at the request of his older brother TJ, who is co-manager along with Dan Britten.  For the last 3 years, Tj recruited and put together a great group of talented guys and a coach who would become Team Fredette.  This year Jimmer did not play but was assistant coach (for the opening game in Salt Lake) along with his former BYU coach, Dave Rose.  I loved seeing them together once more.  Again Tj recruited a great group of guys, but unfortunately suffered a very close loss in the second round. 

Their claim to fame in the TBT so far is that Team Fredette staged the greatest comeback in TBT history to come from behind by over 20 points in the second half, which by the way is only 18 minutes long in TBT.  They put on a shooting display that was phenomenal.  Very exciting. The next game could have gone either way in the end, but it was not meant to be.  Besides being a little frustrating at times, it’s an exciting and enjoyable experience for all that are a part of that team, not only for the basketball, but for the social atmosphere and lifelong friendships that have been formed. 

More recently and locally, the TEAM FREDETTE name has been used for a 5 week summer basketball league. It was something that we had never tried before so we didn’t know what to expect.  A parent named James Cuyler, actually came to us the year before and asked our permission to use the TEAM FREDETTE name to start a summer league over in another area park. We want to give him credit for initiating the program. He does a great job encouraging and recruiting kids to join the league. This year we decided to bring the program over to Crandall Park in Glens Falls, which is a more visible venue to the public.  We weren’t sure about how many would sign up for the league and if we would have enough kids to form teams to play each other.  To our surprise, over 130 kids signed up (boys and girls)…. so we all got to work.  

Coming from a very sports orientated family, I can say that I have watched hundreds, if not thousands, of games over my lifetime. My father was a coach for over 35 years, 3 brothers played and coached, my 3 children played, my husband played and coached and even now my grandchildren are playing…over the years I have watched summer leagues, AAU, middle school and high school games, college games, professional games and still going. 

So for me to sit and watch this Team Fredette Summer Basketball League was second nature to me. I parked myself under a shade tree with a table in front of me. I guess I had the easiest job at the games because I was sort of the information table and could direct them to bottles of water or distribute what was needed like extra shirts, schedules, whistles, tape, pencils, etc.  On a side note, the chair that I brought and sat in at every game was my father’s sturdy, colorful, folding chair. It was one of the things I saved for myself after he passed on.  He has been long gone but it seems like the chair has a spirit of its own and the auro around it still lingers. Maybe his spirit is still there.  It was the one that he used to sit in at every game that he could find to watch after he was retired from teaching and coaching… high school summer basketball league games, football games, soccer games, baseball games, including his grandchildren’s games.  He would sit there with his sharp coaching eyes and access the talent that he was seeing. I feel like I carry on that tradition….something about that chair. Maybe someday one of my children will keep it.  I hope so.  

I absolutely loved watching the kids play.  It was a wonderful action-packed family atmosphere with parents and grandparents gathered on the grass to watch their kids.  There was soccer and softball going on also at the same time in the fields. Lots of action! To me, it felt like old times and brought back memories of the many times our kids played at Crandall Park.  I remember how excited Jimmer was to finally be old enough to play with his older brother TJ and father in pick up games on those courts. Crandall Park has a real history to it with our family.  How good it felt to see this new generation of kids playing and enjoying team basketball on these courts again.  As I watched the kids, both boys and girls, because of my background and maybe because of that chair, I could pick out the kids that were advanced in their skills, the kids that had that real killer instinct in sports, the kids that had no idea how to play, the kids that had obviously been taught some fundamentals of the game, and then the kids that were only there because their parents wanted them to have some physical activity this summer. That was ok too!  But I can tell you for sure, by the end of those 5 weeks, the kids learned how to run up and down the court and be a part of a team.  The first few games on the courts were not easy because it was very hot and very humid so I have to hand it to the kids, as well as the coaches and refs, for hanging in there throughout it all.

Our son Tj was gone for most of the league because he was out West at the TBT tournament with our professional Team Fredette but he was able to be at the last few games at Crandall Park.  He said he enjoyed the fun atmosphere of the league and was able to talk to some groups about the importance of setting goals.  He told the story about “The Contract” that he entered into with Jimmer. We actually still have the original contract written on that beige crummy paper. As long as I can remember, Jimmer’s goal was to be a professional basketball player and make it to the NBA.  Even way back to grade school when the kids were expected to write something in their journal everyday, Jimmer always wrote about something pertaining to basketball.  He never wavered from his belief that he was going to play in the NBA someday and wrote down many times that he was going to make it to the NBA even though he was only in the 3rd grade. I still have the journals. Somehow he absolutely knew what his future was going to be. I know that a lot of kids say that when they are young and we all think it’s cute… but Jimmer really meant it! He lived and breathed it.  The seed was planted in his brain at about the age of 3 and that desire just grew and grew.  One day as Tj watched him workout in high school, he could see that Jimmer had real talent and fire in his eyes, so that day TJ whipped out that old piece of paper, quickly drew up a contract that Jimmer signed, as well as Tj as a witness, saying that he was setting a goal to do all of the work necessary to make it to the NBA.  TJ half jokingly said, (but was actually serious), something to the effect that you know Jimmer this is a legally binding contract so you can’t break it. Jimmer didn’t joke at all.  He was never going to break that contract so he worked hard every day with that unshakable determination and commitment to reach that goal…and he did it!  So with one of the groups, Tj talked about the importance of setting goals…some short term goals and some long term goals. He told them that it doesn’t have to be in basketball or even in any sport, but find out what your passion is and go work towards meeting your goals with that passion. Plant the seed in your brain and go get it…and your never too old to set goals for yourself.  

In our program we try to instill in them the value of making good decisions in their lives.  Good decisions build good character. Our mission statement is simple and the intent of our programs is this:

“Team Fredette’s mission is to help young people strengthen their character through training and playing fundamentally sound, competitive basketball.

Players will be strongly encouraged and reminded often how important good choices will be for their future.

Players will learn the importance of respect, including self- respect, manners, self- control, hard work, teamwork and sacrifice.”

I said this before but I will say it again…never once during that whole 5 week session did I hear any swearing, see any fighting or trash talking, and saw no one intentionally trip or try to hurt another player.  Instead I saw kids that encouraged their teammates, gave up shots to pass to their teammates, helped each other up if they fell on the court, pats on the back or high fives after making shots or a good pass, and on an on. Always a thank you and please when asking me for something.  Kids offered to help us carry things back and forth to the car.   I saw friendships formed after starting out a little shy or hesitant about playing with kids that they didn’t know.  They all grew in many ways, maybe learned a little bit about the game, about interaction with other kids, about teamwork, and hopefully they will take some lasting memories of their time in the TEAM FREDETTE SUMMER LEAGUE.  I know that I will.  It was wonderful to see.

Before I close I have to thank so many people.  I hesitate to mention any names because I don’t want to leave anyone out but here goes…First and foremost, we want to thank the Buttino family, Debi, Nick, Dante and Tia. I don’t know what we would have done without their help. They drove down from Chestertown every week (3 times a week) lugging tables, chairs, basketballs, water, and the kitchen sink. They came early to help set up and at the end help clean up. They loaded up their van and then helped to load up our car at the end of the night. Debi spent countless hours on the computer sending emails out to all of the registrants to keep them informed, answering the phone and answering the many questions that the parents had.   Things kept changing because of parent’s requests so she had to keep updating the registrants on a daily basis or hourly basis sometimes. She did a great job and she did it cheerfully.  She also took many pictures and downloaded them on the Team Fredette facebook page.  Way to go Debi!  

Nick Buttino is one of nicest men on the face of the Earth.  I really mean that.  He is kind. He is helpful. He is encouraging to all of the kids.  He is patient and he is humble.  He carried those scoring tables in and out of his van at every game.  He helped to coach where needed. He kept score and kept time with the blazing sun shining down on him throughout the games. He was there at every single game and all we had to do is to ask him anything and he would do it.  What a tremendous help he was.  Thank you Nick. 

Their children Dante and Tia played on their separate teams, but they also helped us in any way that they could.  They were referees, they coached, and they carried things in and out of the vehicles.  Their help was invaluable to us and we thank them so much. They are following the example of their parents to be helpful and to give service.  Wonderful kids and I’ll miss seeing them. 

A big debt of gratitude to Brian Travis who traveled to be with us and help with coaching, reffing, even playing one time to fill in for a missing kid on a team.  He gave of his time to have many free sessions of basketball training in the oppressive heat. He would drive up after a long day at work to help in any way that he could.  He is a skilled and knowledgeable basketball and agility trainer and we are happy to have him on board with Team Fredette for our Contract Training program.  Josh Horton, a former Argyle high school and college player, joined us for a few sessions to help with basketball drills and training methods.  He is a terrific guy and a great basketball player also and we thank him so much.

James Cuyler came to every game to coach his son’s team and any team that needed a coach.  He also reffed many games. I could hear him shout out encouraging, constructive words to his teams.  James is a part of Team Fredette and will also be working in our “Contract Training” program.  He recently was hired by the North Warren School system to be a head coach for the varsity team. He’ll be one busy guy. Thank you James for all that you do for Team Fredette.

To the parents…thank you for your support of our Team Fredette Summer League and beyond.  Without you, of course there would be no local Team Fredette.  Thank you to the parents that volunteered to coach or to ref, to keep the score, and the time or do anything that was helpful to us.  Thank you for bringing your children each week and staying to watch them. Thank you to the grandparents that came to watch also.  You don’t realize how important it is to show an interest in your children or grandchildren’s endeavors no matter what it is. They need your approval, encouragement and attention as they are forming their self image and building their self-confidence little by little.  I could see the thrill in the kid’s eyes as they made a basket or made a good pass, and they would look over to see if their loved ones were watching. Makes me happy just thinking about their reaction when they knew they did good in their parent’s eyes. 

To all of those that came to fill in for Al or help in any way, thank you!!! I don’t want to name names for fear of missing someone but you know who you are. There is a group of friends that are always willing to help us. Thank you to the refs that came in their “official” reffing shirts.  That always gives a special mental boost to those kids playing in those games.

Also a big thank you to the Glens Falls City Hall Rec. Dept for allowing us to reserve those 2 Crandall Park courts for the 5 weeks of basketball.  The city workers were kind enough to bring benches and picnic tables over for the convenience and comfort of the teams and the parents. Also for the days it rained, we are so grateful to Sam at the Ft. Edward school for allowing us to use the High School gym. You were a lifesaver! Thank you! 

Last, but not least, since it’s me that writing this, I’d like to acknowledge all of the work that my husband Al and my children do to help this venture of Team Fredette. Al did a tremendous amount of work to put the summer league teams together.  Believe me it wasn’t an easy job.  He worked long into the night to get them all set. Our daughter Lindsay is a whiz on the computer so she is a great asset for us and always willing to help in any way she can.  Tj will oversee everything.  He likes organization.  He will also do agility/basketball training in Contract Training.  He’s very knowledgeable in both basketball and agility training because he has been around it for so long.  He trained also as a little guy with his uncle Lee Taft, one of the best in the world.  TJ is also a great motivational speaker so it’s something that we will incorporate into Team Fredette from time to time.  Then there is Jimmer who has limited time but is always willing to help and appear at anything we ask him to do.  He never hesitates. If he can do it, he will do it for us. He keeps an eye on all that we do and enjoys watching the kids learn and grow like he did.  He is actually coming to Glens Falls for a short stay (has to be best man in a family wedding) and agreed to do an appearance at the clinic we have planned for August 31st.  Lee Taft, my brother, has also agreed to come to do the clinic with his great knowledge and experience of teaching agility, speed, footwork etc.  He has agreed to be someone that we can always consult if there are any questions from us or the parents of our athletes.  Thank you to him. We are so thrilled and grateful to both Lee and Jimmer to give up their time and energy to do this for Team Fredette.

One more thing….a professional photographer, who is also a huge basketball fan, happened to be there at the park when the league started. After seeing all that was going on he came back the next day to take some wonderful pictures of the whole scene.  I’ve seen some of them and they are beautifully done.  He will have them available soon for any parent that wants to purchase one of their son or daughter.  We will let you know. 

So that’s it!  Team Fredette has a lot of help from many different people and without them it wouldn’t be possible.  Al and I are not young chickens anymore so we appreciate all the help we can get. It was a labor of love for our area youth. 

Thanks for stopping by! 

Kay

Here is the link in case you are interested in registering your child for the clinic coming up in 2 weeks. What a deal you are getting! 

https://campscui.active.com/orgs/JimmerJamBasketballCamp?season=2684708

team fredette summer campsummer league 5team fredette summer league2

girls summer drills crandal park

 

 

tj talking to girls

contract 1

The famous contract…mispelled word and all.

 

 

 

 

 

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Jimmer Comes Home

jimmer in front of home

It doesn’t happen very often but it happened this summer….my 3 children Lindsay, Tj and Jimmer were all together in our humble little home in Glens Falls, NY.  For a time one lived in Utah, one was in California and one lives in Colorado. It just never seemed to work out that we would all be in one place at the same…someone was always missing.  But this summer it happened.  They all came home with their respective families and loved ones, and for me, as they say, it was a little piece of Heaven.  Families all together enjoying the good and simple things of life.  There was alot of laughter, alot of eating, alot of playing in the backyard where my children spent most of their childhood years.  It was almost like time stood still and they never left.  But they did leave…. and came back with families and loved ones of their own.

Our daughter Lindsay and her husband Brent added 4 children to our family and Jimmer and his wife Whitney added little Wesley.  Tj added his wonderful girlfriend Dani. So our family has grown and they will continue on with the traditions and enjoyment of our backyard whenever they come to visit. It was a yard that everyone in the neighborhood used to come to play in and it was always ok by me.  The more kids that came the happier I was.  There is something about the sounds of children playing and laughing that is music to my ears. It is where Jimmer learned to play basketball with his brother TJ as his mentor.  Lindsay was more concerned about his welfare so it was a good mix of instruction, fun and supervision.  I just took it all in from my kitchen window.

During their stay we made the most of our time together.  We don’t have alot of room in our house but we were able to accommodate Lindsay and her 4 kids down in our finished off basement.  When her husband joined us later on in the week, they decided to stay in a nearby hotel so they had more sleeping room.  This house is full of love but not full of space and with that kind of humidity last week, the sleeping can be rough.

Unfortunately because of lack of space, it’s impossible for us all to stay in this little house, so Jimmer and his family stayed up at the Sagamore Hotel in Bolton Landing.  It’s about a 25 minute slow drive from here because of the windy road lined with hotels and private camps along the way.  It was a good week weatherwise if you could jump in a pool or a lake. The humidity was oppressive at times so we pretty much spent it by the pool during the day hours. We were Jimmer’s guests during his stay so we had access to anything that the Sagamore has to offer…..which is alot!  We swam, we boated, we jumped off the popular cliffs across from the Sagamore, we paddled boarded (well they did, not me) and we ate and ate.  Jimmer even managed to fit in a round of golf with his cousin John and good friend Robby.  They said it was spectacular early in the morning when it was cool and dry as they took in the amazing Adirondack scenery along the course.  Thank you Chris Doster for suggesting and offering it for them.  The Sagamore staff treats Jimmer and his family really well.  What a great place it is.

Unbeknownst to me, there was a camera crew that wanted to follow Jimmer home to get some footage of where he came from.  They have followed him throughout the year in Shanghai, to his home in Denver, and even to the TBT basketball tournament that Tj and Jimmer were recently involved in.  They are planning a documentary of a year in the life of Jimmer and his family.  The problem is I wasn’t aware that they were coming until a day or two before they came.  Wow!  My first thought was no no no…not again.  What can they show that hasn’t already been shown here?  I don’t have time to redo the whole house in 2 days. It needs to be painted.  It needs to be cleaned up. I need to put in a new rug.  I have to fix the mirror that fell down and on and on.  Anyone who knows me knows that I hate to be interviewed and hate to be on camera so it was a no for me.  Well the guys came and they were so nice and so respectful of what we wanted that I ended up giving in and I did actually get on camera.  Oh geesh!  It’s not going to be pretty but at least everyone will know that my kids do have a mother.  They filmed us all at dinner in a restaurant, they filmed around town in Glens Falls, they filmed the house, inside and outside, messes and all….but I hope one thing that they could capture and could feel in here is the warm spirit of God and the love we have for one another and anyone else that came through our doors.

Ok now actually at this minute, I am getting cold feet about me being on camera.  I am thinking that I may have to have them edit me out.  haha….so stay tuned.

There are 3 spots that we always have to hit when my family comes to town.  Angelina’s for their amazingly delicious pizza or any other Italian food, The Log Jam, and Martha’s ice cream place.  Angelina’s is owned by family friends so they are especially good to us whenever we go there.  We appreciate the Aunchman’s love and support to our family and give that right back to them.  The Log Jam is such a great place to eat and have the best waiter that you can ever ask for, Todd Howk.  He actually is a cousin to my husband and wow does he treat us good when we go there each time that we get together.  He is a good waiter to all, not just to us, I might add.  Then there is Martha’s.  It has been reviewed and visited by the Today show a few years back so it has some pretty good notoriety here in the Northeast.  It’s the place to be for your social and ice cream fixes.  It just doesn’t feel right to my kids to not visit those 3 places every time they come to town.  Now there is a new generation coming up in our family so they will enjoy those places for years to come I’m sure.

Everyone knows that when you plan a family vacation you get excited and anticipate it for months and months and then it comes….. and then it’s over in a flash.  Then you start thinking about all that you wanted to do and all the people you wanted to visit but it somehow didn’t get done.  It seems there is never enough time.  That’s how it went for us. There was so much action….kids playing, kids crying, alot of eating, messes, washing machine and dryer always running, wet towels everywhere, swimming and boating at the Sagamore, sprinkler going, water balloon fights, bubble making, zip line riding in the backyard, mosquito bites to attend to, sunscreen for all, nose wiping, diaper changing, chasing after kids that get away, magic marker artistry on the house, popsicles dripping …..did I mention eating eating eating?… and on and on.  Just as a side note…. Jimmer makes a mean guacamole dip.  I asked him how he learned how to make it and he gestured towards his wife Whitney.  She probably learned how to make it from her Mom.  Good stuff Jimmer!

You all know what I mean if you have families with kids. It can be a circus sometimes especially for the Moms and Dads….but what a fun circus for me!  My role has changed over the years as slowly I went from being a young Mom of 3 children to a Grandmom of 5 children.  I heard someone say one time that you have to gradually let go of being in control of your children and then when they have children of their own, you have to learn to sit back and be a spectator. Hopefully they have learned some good things from you that they will pass on to their children. Any grandparent knows that that’s not always easy to just be that spectator because you want to help and pass down some wisdom.  So sometimes we aren’t good at it…. but we try.  They learn it all as they go anyways.  “Experience is the best teacher,” as they say.

Jimmer was able to visit the Super Hooper Camp that is held every year at the Glens Falls school district to give some words of encouragement to the kids.  It is a camp that all 3 of my kids had attended when they were young so we think of it fondly. It means alot to Jimmer to go back there when he can because it’s where it all started in school.  He also was able to help out his brother Tj as he had his first basketball clinic under the name of “Contract Training.”  It was a success and it was so nice of Jimmer to help him out there too.  It was a family affair and we all helped out…. but it was Tj that planned it out. Can’t let a chance go by to thank the Ft. Edward school and their AD for providing them with the gym. Thank you James Cuyler too of course.

So Jimmer did what he could to accommodate the requests that he gets when he comes back and there were sure alot more people that he would have liked to have visited but as I said, time goes by so fast.  We are so blessed with good friends and people that have been so supportive of Jimmer and our family over the years.  We would have loved to have visited everyone but it just doesn’t happen that way unfortunately.  Days and nights just fly by and the next thing you know, it’s over.  Saturday was the perfect day for me….other than the fact that I had twinges of sadness because I knew they were leaving the next day.  So we all gathered here at our home after the Contract Training clinic and just enjoyed being together.  A couple of friends stopped by with their young daughter and my kid’s aunt and her son John were here too. We played in the backyard, had dinner together and for the grand finale….another stop at Martha’s ice cream place.  Can’t ask for a better ending.

I think before it began I was thinking of the day that it would be over and we would all have to say good-bye. My kids know that there will be tears (ok sobbing) from me when they leave.  It’s just the way it is and they expect it.  The next day after they all left, I went out in the back and looked around the yard.  It was just silent and I was feeling the void. There were a few leftover signs that they were here….popped water balloons, balls around the yard, the little ones artwork on the white board, a few stray mismatched socks…..luckily for me, our daughter Lindsay and her family moved to Rochester, NY from Utah so we get to visit them quite a bit now and also luckily for me, Tj has come back from California to stay for awhile with his girlfriend Dani until their next move.

But for almost 10 glorious days I had all 3 of my children here with their children. Our daughter Lindsay got to spend some time with Wesley, her first niece on our side of the family and Wesley got to meet her cousins for the first time on our side also. Like Jimmer said, it was important for him to bring his wife and little daughter back here to see where he grew up even though Wesley may not remember it this time.  Eventually she will.  He is proud of this little house and this little city because it’s has helped form him into the young man he has become.  I can say that about my other children Lindsay and Tj also.  They have all been many different places and have had many different experiences but they will never forget the experiences, love and relationships they built  at this little blue house on Ogden Street.  As I have joked and told people many times over the years, this house was suppose to be our starter house but now it looks like it’s going to be our finisher house too.

Thanks for stopping by everyone.

Update:  Jimmer has left for China to begin his season.  Tough for him to leave his family but we all are grateful for these opportunities and anticipation of what is to come.  Time goes by so fast that they will be together again before they know it.  They will meet in Houston and Whitney and Wesley will go over to China soon.

Until next time…..

Kay

PS.  Here are some pictures and video of our times together.

jimmer linz tj

My 3 wonderful children. Notice the battered and worn out basketball hoop in the background. Used to be a little bball court right there.

Jimmer lindsay Tj on boat

together again enjoying summer…

whit wes on boat

here we go….off to the cliffs.

sagamore at night

The Sagamore at night.

whit john Kathleen

My nephew John and his girlfriend Kathleen and Whitney having fun at the pool.

tj linz in pool

Tj and Lindsay catching up.

boys on boat

Little “Titanium”, cousin John and TJ

jimmer tj dani on boat

jimmer wes on boat 1

family

fun days of the summer of 2018

My Father’s Writing

dad at retirement

The other day I was looking through some old pictures and old memories that I had stored away and among  them was a card that was written by my father.  It was an anniversary card to my husband and I. He must have sent some money in it because at the end he said to go out and have a nice dinner on him.

My mother died in 1999 so it must have been written somewhere in the 9 years that he lived after her passing. He wrote a very sentimental note to us about treasuring every moment that we had together.  Looking back I realize that as he wrote it, he must have been suffering his own personal pain of loosing his wife (my mother) of 57 years.  As he wrote those words, I’m sure he was thinking how fast time goes by and that he never thought that he would be sitting there without her. He always said to me “I always thought that I would go first.”  So besides the anguish that he felt of loosing his lifelong partner, he had anxiety about living on his own.

It was with a lot of sadness and concern that my siblings and I watched him struggle to come to terms with life without her.  I must say though, even at his age,  being left alone was a growing experience for him because all of a sudden he had to do everything that my mother used to do for him.   We were proud of him as he learned and handled the day to day responsibilities that my mother always took care of for them.  He was always too busy working outside the home to even notice all the little things that had to be done in a household. Little by little he managed to carve out a life and a routine for himself.  Not saying that he didn’t miss and think about my mother everyday, but the pain of it all lessened as time went on.  Of course all of his children pitched in to help in any way that we could and as he got older and more forgetful, it became more of a worry to us. I think he may have banged into a few different things in Whitehall with his big Cadillac, that we weren’t aware of……yes the car situation becomes an issue eventually in every family with elderly parents to monitor. I think our kids may have to wrestle the keys out of my husband’s hands.  That’s ok, you may be able to take him by then.   Ha ha

When I saw the writing of my father, a flood of emotions came over me. Wow he really was here. He was our father and we had a life with him. After so many years when your parents have passed, the memories fade and it almost seems like a dream. You remember bits and pieces and certain times you had with them, maybe something they said or did…mostly good, and maybe some not so good, but then you think, no matter what, they loved you, sacrificed for you, and did their best.

Some children don’t have the blessing of a father in their home but I have seen many uncles, grandfathers, older brothers, or good responsible male friends step up to the plate and be good role models for the children. It goes without saying that the mother in the home is without a doubt one of the most powerful forces and examples to the children…but I am just talking about fathers today.

My father was a printer….not a cursive writer and it was unique to him. It’s funny because my son Jimmer prints his notes also.  He signs his name in cursive but other than that, it’s all printed.  The inclination to print must have been hereditary in some way because I know Jimmer never really saw his grandfather print.  It is just Jimmer’s style.

My father had a long list of accomplishments in his life, father of 6 children, good athlete, served in both the Army Air Corp, US Navy, teacher, iron worker in the summers, director of athletics, high school principal and one of his most notable and enjoyable positions was that of a high school coach.  Until the day he died, his athletes affectionately called him “Coach.”  Although he coached every sport that was offered in our small school, his main stomping ground was down at the “Playground” in Whitehall.  In fact, I remember helping to hand out the football uniforms every year along with my brothers and I proudly got in all of the team pictures taken on the field each year.  Such fond memories of that field we all have.  It was named “The Clint Taft Memorial Field.”  “Legacy of a Coach”  He would have been so happy to see the monumental stone that was erected for him.  My Mom would have loved it too.

Granddaughter Lindsay and Grandson TJ. Jimmer was away at college at this time.

Sports was something that sustained him all of the years that he was on his own after my mother died.  He would scour the paper to see what sporting event he could attend that day. He was fiercely loyal to his hometown teams of Whitehall, NY.  My brother, Lee, was a football coach in a town about 45 minutes away from Whitehall.  Dad made sure he drove up to all of his games, to not only enjoy them, but also to support him.  As I talked about, it was a time of Dad’s life when he probably shouldn’t have been driving, but he did it anyways because the desire to see his son’s football games overshadowed everything else. He loved it and it was something for him to look forward to every week. I accompanied him to all of those games and it was a chance for us to spend hours of good quality time together.  Lee was such a good coach and I know Dad was proud of him…. and maybe relived his coaching days through him. Actually my brother Jerry was a coach for a short amount of time in Luzerne when they had 8 man football.  Fun to watch him too.  He was also a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable coach. We all never missed those games either…it was always a family affair if we were living locally. My brother Jimmy was a great basketball coach in Connecticut for years but it was too far away to see the game regularly but if it was possible, my father would have been there at every game. Me too! 

Sports was in his blood. He played it, he coached it, and he watched it until the day he died. He also attended all of my children’s games (his grandchildren) that were at least a half hour of driving away.   Both my mother and father would attend my son Tj’s games, Lindsay’s games, and Jimmer’s little league games if it was possible.  For little league, you could see them sitting behind the backstop in their fold up chairs.  I still can remember the feeling I had, after my mother’s passing, when I looked behind the backstop at the game and there he was…. sitting alone without my mother until Al and I went to join him. Even if we weren’t there I know he would have stayed to enjoy the game. Took some getting used to seeing him come in the ball park alone, but it made me feel good that he still enjoyed every minute of it.  After all, it was competition and it didn’t matter if it was tiddly winks, he would enjoy the process of the back and forth effort to win.

He was a wonderful man, father and “Gramps” to us all.  My son Tj called him the king of the one liners.  He was kind, compassionate, competitive, funny, a kidder, and of all that he had going on in his life, one of his greatest joys was being a father of 6 children and grandfather of 14 grandchildren. He was an only child himself, so a big family was something that he never had, but wished for, when he was young.  He had that large family eventually with us 3 girls and 3 boys.

So Father’s day was last weekend. I honored the great fathers in my life… my husband, one of my sons who is a father now, my brothers, my son-in-law, my children’s friends who are now fathers, and all in our extended families that are fathers, but my thoughts gravitated to my own father, who I loved and lost in this life but have no doubt that I will be reunited with him one day.  It’s the plan and God keeps his promises to us.

So I hope everyone enjoyed their special Father’s day.  You are all an integral and special part of your children’s lives. You only get one chance at this parenthood thing. Even though it’s inevitable that you will look back with some regrets, make a conscious effort to give it your very best shot.  I can promise you that giving your children time and attention will be the greatest accomplishment in your life.  Never underestimate the importance of fathers or father figures in a child’s life.

Those 18 years or so you have with them go by faster than you can imagine.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time…see ya.   

PS…I wrote this in green because it was his favorite color.  It’s funny that Jimmer’s uniform colors are now green.   For you Dad. Thinking of you.  Happy Birthday…

dad's signature     gramps dad

 

PS  This picture of his writing was the last that I got from him.  You can see that it was getting a little wobbly from age… but his heart was all in it for me.

 

 

 

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Jimmer and China

A few weeks ago an article was written about Jimmer and his basketball season in China with the Shanghai Sharks.  It was brought to our attention that the article painted a negative picture of his life over there.  I didn’t think about that at the time when I first read it so I went back to read it over again.  I guess I can see what they mean.   It does sound a little bit bleak in some of the writer’s assessment of Jimmer’s life over there. He’s a really nice guy and a good writer but I think that maybe he was going for the dramatic affect and maybe his perception of what he saw was a little different than what Jimmer and my husband (who has spent many weeks over there) know to be true.  Some of his description of things over there made it seem a little more lonely or negative than it actually is for Jimmer.  Maybe the name “Jimo Dashen”, meaning the lonely master, got to the journalist.

After the article appeared in the Deseret News, another man, who currently lives in Shanghai and has met Jimmer, took offense to the the article because of the perceived dreary portrayal of Shanghai and published a rebuttal blog post. (Both articles are on my Facebook page) I must say after reading his blog , I can appreciate his thoughts on the Deseret News article.   I am actually grateful to him for bringing this to our attention. I didn’t think that people would take it that way but I guess some people did.  The last thing Jimmer and our family would want to do is to offend, in any way, the Chinese people and the great city of Shanghai. So I wanted to set the record straight concerning that.

My husband Al went over to China with Jimmer on the first trip last year.  I was so glad that Al was going to accompany him because, let’s face it, going that far away in a strange land, not knowing the language or what to expect, is a little intimidating for anyone. Jimmer’s wife was pregnant at the time, and understandably, she couldn’t go with him.  Not only is the length of the flight tough, but the time change throws you off for a few days, along with the jet lag.  They both were wiped out but also excited for the new adventure.

Right from the start, the Shark management, took good care of Jimmer.  They met him at the airport and had a Chinese English speaking gentleman, “Teddy”, who came to be Al and Jimmer’s sidekick for the entire time that they were there with the Sharks.  Al said he is such a great guy who wanted to make sure that they were comfortable and well taken care of during their stay in China. He would take the time to explain so many things to Al and Jimmer about the culture and their monetary system.  They got the hang of it pretty quickly, but if it were me, I’d still be wrestling with it.   Teddy was there to “show them the ropes” of  Shanghai.   He would teach them, or make suggestions as to what they should do and what they should not do so they would not inadvertently offend the Chinese people.   For example one of the first team dinners they had, they all were expected to take a drink of Saki (Sake) to honor the team and the coaches before the start of the season.  It’s customary over there to drink and toast this or that.  The interpreter explained to Al and Jimmer that it was considered disrespectful if you didn’t participate in the drinking part. It put Jimmer, as well as Al, in an awkward position because they don’t drink at all, but yet as the new guys, they didn’t want to give the impression that they were being anti-social or disrespectful.  Jimmer explained to the interpreter beforehand that he and his father were not going to drink anything other than water or something non-alcoholic when they did the toasts.  So that’s what they did….they raised their glasses of water for their toast.   Once it was explained to them (the team) by the interpreter, they all understood.  That’s just the way it was going to be.

They had a driver that took them to Jimmer’s apartment in downtown Shanghai and would be there the whole season to get him to the games and practices on time.  At the games there is always an interpreter for the import players (2 imports for each team) because the head coach didn’t speak much English at all.  The assistant coach was American but lived in Australia so he could help with the language barrier also.  I’m sure it was very confusing at first for Jimmer but he adjusted really well.  After all, it was basketball….something that he could figure out no matter what language they were speaking.  Surprisingly enough, he said that most of his teammates spoke English.  Some of them better than others.  That was very helpful.  I’m sure that they learned some things from Jimmer and he learned some things from them as well.  But ultimately, it was the team camaraderie that they felt.  Regardless of the language, they came to feel a bond with one another.  Jimmer genuinely has fond feelings and appreciates his teammates, his coaches, the trainers, and the entire staff of the Sharks organization as they reciprocated those feelings for him.  They support and encourage one another.

Now a few words about his apartment….  I know the first article mentioned that the apartment seemed lonely and cold, devoid of the homey feel that one might like.  My first thought was what young professional athlete, who is temporarily living away from their permanent home, cares about where they are staying as long as it is relatively clean, has a kitchen, TV, and a bed?  What athlete would go out and buy homey things like colorful throw pillows and accessories to liven up a temporary place?  Only a mother would do that, and to be honest, if I was over there, then I probably would have done that.  Wouldn’t have mattered one bit to Jimmer and to most guys, but it would have mattered to me.  Us mothers are like that sometimes.  I remember when Jimmer was staying in Westchester County for the Knick’s D league.  His apartment was in a high rise building.  It was small but nice.  When Al and I went to visit the first time, and this was before Whitney got there, it was bugging me that the couch was in the wrong position in the room and so were the coffee table, rug and lamps.  He had to go out to go to practice for a few hours and when he came back, I had completely rearranged the furniture.  Even though it had a small amount of furniture there, I thought the placement of it was crucial for Jimmer’s utmost comfort and coziness.  At least it was in my mind and it was important to me that he was comfortable.  Jimmer didn’t care one way or another but graciously told me that it looked nice when he came back.  He is a really neat person so it was never messy, but now I felt that it was a little more homey for him.  So I’m sure over in China, the apartment was just fine for him and didn’t signify loneliness or anything for that matter. It’s just what they had provided for him and it was fine.  The location was great. One of the first things that I asked Jimmer to do when he got there was to give me a tour of the place by facetime.  My thoughts were that it looked very clean and shining with beautiful hardwood floors.  It had more of a modern contemporary feel to it. He had at least one flat screen TVs, (maybe two), a washer and dryer and a kitchen. He was all set.  Was it cozy looking?…probably not by most mom’s standards, but it was nice.  If he has a TV and his ipad to facetime his family, that’s all that he needs.  As I said before,  I think the writer of the article just perceived it to be lonely looking for the dramatic effect of his story.  When I saw a recent video of his apartment, he had so many colorful sneakers around that it would be hard to feel down with all of that bright neon color! Who needs throw pillows for color when you have those brightly colored sneakers?

Both Jimmer and Al have told me of the beauty of the city of Shanghai.  There are flowers everywhere, interesting statues and art sculptures, beautiful high rise buildings that light up the sky with color at night, there is a Disney World amusement park, there are stores and malls so big that Al got lost in a few, there are street vendors eager to barter with you.  So many things to see and experience. So much history.   The first article mentioned the smog and bad air over in China.  Yes there are times that people choose to wear masks to shield themselves from an especially bad day, but as the man said in the blog, parts of Utah, where the man used to live, and many other cities have bad smoggy air sometimes too, so you can’t define a city with just that.  I have experienced it myself in Utah.  It’s what they call Inversion. It would be nice to be able to wave a magic wand and bring in clean air but with large cities or areas with so many factories and traffic, it’s hard to keep it under control.  I know the writer of the first article was going for the gritty feel of the city of Shanghai and maybe it added to the dramatic theme of his story, but it wasn’t really an issue for Al or for Jimmer.

I remember Whitney saying that she felt so safe over there.  It’s probably because they have guards to monitor the streets for any signs of trouble.  Even at the games they have guards to keep order if it is needed.  I was worried that Al was going to be taken away if he didn’t stop yelling so much at the refs.  Ha!  I think they gave him a pass because he was Jimmer’s father.   It’s a Communist country and it’s something that you have to always keep in mind.  They do some things differently than we do here in the USA.

I think when Al went over there with Jimmer the first time, he was worried about what he was going to eat. Yup he’s always worried about that.   It’s no secret that when going to a different country, you may have to adjust to their cuisine. One of the first things Al said to me when we finally talked for the first time was that the food was amazing in Shanghai.  Anything that you can get over here in the USA, you can get over there. There is a McDonald’s, a Burger King, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, a Wendy’s, lots of pizza places, seafood places. steak places, dessert places, fine dining places etc. etc. Anything that you want to eat, you can get….even great ice cream places.  I know that because I saw pictures of Jimmer and Whitney’s little girl with chocolate ice cream on her face.    He tries to eat healthy things to stay in shape so maybe it’s hard to decide what to eat sometimes, but the choices are certainly there. Are there places in China where the food is less desirable and inferior than in Shanghai?  Absolutely.  The team travels to some rural areas during the season that can’t provide all of the food options of Shanghai, but they plan for that and bring food for the team or the guys can bring their own snacks. There is sometimes the threat of food poisoning for the team members, or not being able to tolerate certain foods that they are not used to, so they have to be careful of that.  As a matter of fact, one of the imports did suffer from a bout of food poisoning and had to sit out a game.  But that’s also true for athletes or anyone in the USA…. or any country for that matter.

The article mentioned something about Jimmer just watched TV or movies in his downtime, and that’s probably true when he was alone, but when someone is over there with him, he ventures out on the streets and takes advantage of all there is to see. I think most people are like that.  It’s much more fun to have someone to share those things with than doing it on your own.  He goes out to the occasional get together or dinner with the coaches and team.  He goes out to shop when he wants or needs to go to a store.  When you’ve seen just about everything that there is to see in your area, what more can you do by yourself?  Besides Jimmer has time restraints everyday because everything is centered around practices, shoot arounds, travel and games. Sometimes he has to do endorsement obligations that can take up quite a bit of time.  That’s his job.  The time that he does have off, which is not much, he probably likes to stay put and relax from the exhaustion of a very busy schedule. I know one thing that he enjoys every day and does it as many times as he can in a day….. and that is Facetime with his family.  Thank heavens for modern technology.  It makes being away from your family a little more tolerable for the many people that have jobs far away from them.

I mentioned this before on Facebook but I’ll say it again, one thing I disagreed with wholeheartedly in the article is the statement that the writer made about Jimmer having no rhythm and not being about to dance.  What?!!!  Jimmer is known for being a terrific dancer.  That assessment most likely comes from a person that can’t dance at all so it’s hard to pick out a good dancer if you have no dancing skills of your own.  It has been my opinion over the years that most athletes can dance.  They are born with good hand/eye coordination and can find that rhythm when they hear a beat.  I have 3 brothers that were all good athletes and everyone of them can dance really well.  So does my other son and daughter…both good athletes.  Of course there are always exceptions to the rule but generally, athletes can dance.  So I really took offense to that comment.  It made him sound like he was awkward on the dance floor and nothing can be further from the truth.  The video that the guy put up of Jimmer and the wedding crew was a fun day for them.  Any confusion of the dance moves was because they put that dance together pretty quickly and had to perform under pressure for the bride and wedding guests.  Ha Ha.   It was fun to watch.

The CBA….I know that people say that the Chinese basketball league is an inferior league and it’s not as good as the NBA or the Euro-league and that’s probably true about the NBA,  but the Euro league, that’s just a matter of opinion.  Yes the NBA has the top basketball players in the world but there are some players that have been cut from the NBA, gone over to the CBA, and then work their way back to the NBA. There are a couple of Chinese players that played in the NBA for a few seasons but wanted to go back to play in their homeland. One example is a player named Yi Jianlian, who played for the Dallas Mavericks for a time. The competition in China can be a little weaker sometimes, depending on the team.  Some of the well known players that have played there or are still playing there, are Marshon Brooks, Carlos Boozer, JJ Hickson, Jason Thompson, Josh Smith, Gilbert Arenas, JR Smith, Metta World Peace, Tracey McGrady, Pooh Jeter, Chris Anderson (Birdman), Shavlik Randolph, Stephon Marbury of course, and many more. Some came over for a short time and went back to the NBA and some left basketball altogether but China was their choice of where to play, so it can’t be that bad.  Although the teams can only have 2 imports on a team, some of the Chinese players are very skilled, scrappy and can shoot the lights out!  It all depends on the team of course (that’s also true in the NBA) but to Jimmer, every game is a battle.  Because of his scoring abilities, he has become a target no matter where he plays.  To those who have said, oh of course he can score there, the competition is weak, I would challenge them to spend one game in Jimmer’s sneakers and see what it is like.  He is grabbed, scratched, tripped, elbowed, pushed, slapped and yes even head butted.  After some of the games he is sore and beat up. This season he came home with a black eye from an over zealous defender. They rotate fresh defensive players on him throughout a game in which their only assignment is to just stop Jimmer, never mind the ball, just stop him!  I don’t know how he can stand a guy two inches from his face all of the time and constantly touching him.  I guess he is used to it. The reffing is less than perfect (just ask my husband who has been there in person) so they let a lot of that kind of fouling happen for the most part.  Every once in awhile they will call a good game but seems like those games are few and far between.  I won’t say too much about that but there are articles written about the reffing in China and the CBA in general.  As I think back, I don’t even remember Jimmer being roughed up that bad in the NBA.  Almost every game is tough for him and I am still in awe of what he can do in spite of all of that.  But still he is enjoying it.  It’s a challenge and Jimmer always did love a challenge.  He is a starter and he plays the majority of the game. The worry that he is going to be taken out if he makes one mistake is gone.  The coach recognizes that sometimes he needs time to get warmed up and play through mistakes (a luxury he didn’t have in the NBA)….but when he catches that rhythm, watch out.  People sometimes think that Jimmer is just a shooter.  That was the misconception that the coaches had in the NBA.  They stuck him in the corner waiting for the ball that never came.  No doubt that he has the 3 point shooting talent, but I always say to people that he’s not just a shooter, he is a scorer, plain and simple. He’s been that type of player since he was a little boy.  He has a variety of shots.  He CAN create his own shot but I have heard so many announcers say that he can not.  Wow they haven’t really watched Jimmer if they say that.  That’s why he is so hard to stop.  If his 3 point shot is not working in some games, he tries something different.  He’ll take it in and score that way.  He is a great passer and sees the floor really well.  He is quicker and a lot stronger than people think.  You have to have a certain amount of strength and quickness to score like that.  So not only do the coaches and players in Shanghai have confidence in him, but he has gotten his own confidence back.  As a very astute and fair announcer said once when Jimmer was in the NBA, the talent that was on display at BYU has not gone away, it’s still there, but he hasn’t found the right situation yet where he can showcase that talent.  That was the frustration for all of us in the NBA.  That’s why going to China was a good move for him.  As the article said, he’s gotten his swagger back.  I could go on and on with this subject and my feelings, but I won’t.  I will move on.

I want to say something about the Chinese people.  Both Al and Jimmer have mentioned to me that they are the kindest, most loving, giving people that you would ever want to meet.  Very hard working.  He said that they have a sweet spirit about them… and they love their basketball.   Al has so many stories of encounters he has had with the Chinese people.  They are more than willing to help you if you just ask (and if they speak English.) He ventured out every day to experience some of the local color.  Sometimes he went with Jimmer if he had some free time, but mostly on his own. The population, of course, is mind blowing in Shanghai…about 24 million people, almost 3 times the population of NYC.  Some days are wall to wall people. Lots of activity and lots to see and do.   Sometimes Al got lost and sometimes he maneuvered himself around Shanghai pretty good.   He told me that because of Jimmer’s notoriety over there and the fact that Al’s face was frequently shown on TV during his games, that some people started to recognize him on the streets and asked for pictures with him.  He once walked by a group of armed guards that must have watched the games because they started talking back and forth with each other and as Al looked back, one of them was going through the motion of shooting a basketball.  They laughed as Al smiled and nodded yes at them.

My intention was not to slam the first article from the Deseret News about Jimmer’s life in China.  In fact, the journalist is a very good writer and the article was well written.  He spent alot of time researching it. He talked for hours with Al, Tj and his sister Lindsay on the phone. He flew over to Shanghai to spend some time with Jimmer.  If you scroll down to the end of his article, you will see a video in which he did a great job describing his findings of Jimmer’s life in China.  However, I just wanted to counteract any feelings that one might have had after reading it and coming away with the conclusion that Jimmer’s experience over there is not a good one.  On the contrary, it has been amazing.  Let’s just say that he is as happy as one can be living over there without his family by his side the majority of the time.  That’s probably where the journalist’s perceived melancholy feelings from Jimmer may have come from.  As Whitney said, he is pretty level headed and doesn’t get too high or too low.  He is a go with the flow type person.  To go back, one of the inaccurate comments in the article was that his brother TJ said that Jimmer became extremely depressed when he was with the Sacramento Kings.  Tj told me that he never used those words but rather he said that he was having a tough time.  When Jimmer heard that he quickly said that he wasn’t depressed and that was too strong a word, but frustrated was the correct word for the situation at the time. Again I guess for the writer, the word depressed was more dramatic. He was going through alot of adjustments.  I was there for his first year in the NBA so I was sharing in that frustration, as was all of our family. Did he get on his knees for strength and guidance as it was written in the article? I didn’t see that myself like Tj did, but I would say, knowing Jimmer, that it was absolutely true.  Jimmer is such a positive thinking person that he doesn’t dwell on things too much and moves forward.  Tj always told him that you have to have a “short memory” in sports. It’s a term used that means that you can’t stop to think about a mistake that you may have made on the court because otherwise if you do, you will loose your focus and it will take you mentally out of the game.  That term can also be used in life in general.  Have a short memory and not dwell on past mistakes or even the injustices that happen.  That is good advice. I think Jimmer lives his life like that.  He could have very easily harbored resentment against the NBA, but he chose to have that short memory and look ahead at other opportunities and it landed him into another round of Jimmermania.  He is grateful to everyone of his fans in the USA and now in China.  So yes after awhile when he is in China towards the end of the season, he is ready to come back to the USA because like anyone else, you can’t be totally happy without your family by your side. This is his job and it is a way to give his family a good life.  It’s also doing what he loves. He is so appreciative for the fans that he has, the people that he has met and the opportunities that he has been given.  I know that he has a grateful heart for his blesssings, as do we as his family.

One last thing that I really pondered a lot is when the article mentioned that this was not the way that it was suppose to happen. In other words, he was saying that Jimmer’s dream was that he was suppose to be successful and playing in the NBA and he wasn’t suppose to be playing in China.  My thoughts are maybe this is EXACTLY the way that it was suppose to happen. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball, as they say, but sometimes it’s just the right pitch.  Life is not only about basketball. It’s about learning, and growing, and experiencing all kinds of things in our journey.  If he didn’t go to China, he would have not met all of the people that he has met. He would have not experienced another culture and learned about life in a country different than our own.  He would not have gotten the opportunities that were made available to him and will be in the future if he stayed sitting on the bench in the NBA.  He belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Who knows if he has influenced someone there in a largely non-Christian country to investigate what he believes.  Maybe there is a reason why he is there other than to play basketball.  Those are questions many people have thought about.  He has one more year under contract with the Shanghai Sharks.  After that who knows what will happen.  Maybe he will again play in the NBA and maybe he won’t, but make no mistake about it, Jimmer has alot of basketball left to be played and wherever he goes, he will bring with him the light that he has, a positive attitude, and a work ethic that any team would want.  Time will tell.

I have posted some pictures and a video to show you some of the experiences that he has had in China over the past two years.  The final video was last year when he won the MVP trophy.  What’s not to love over there?  The first 4 pictures were taken as he arrived back in China for the second season.  How great for a mother’s heart to see that.  Thank you to the Shanghai people.  Right now Jimmer is home in Colorado with his wife and his daughter (and their great dog George)….another perk of China basketball is that it’s a short season so it means more family time for him.

Take care everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,

Kay

china welcome 1china welcome 2china welcome 3china welcome 4

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wes wit jimmer at bund

At a place called “THE BUND”.  Beautifully colored buildings to see.

wes wit at bund

wes 36

Wesley was the star on the streets.

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jimmer in China

got her Disney ears in Shanghai.

Jimmer giving talk in China

accepting an award

colorful scarves

Beautiful silk scarves that Al brought home for me.

jimmer and roger federer

Got to meet his all time favorite professional tennis players, Roger Federer, who had a tournament over there in China. He said he was a really nice guy. Liked him alot.

china picture

china pics2

memories of a lifetime

pink building

great wall

Great Wall of China in Bejiing…about 2 hours away from Shanghai.

china picture 2

china photographer

Wonderful lady who was a photographer for the team.  Al said she is in her 80s.

Honoring our Veterans

Hi Everyone!
Just like to say that I hope everyone had a nice Memorial day. Lots of rain in NY but they managed to get the parades in before it got too bad. So thankful for our Veterans and the service that they have given to this country. It’s easy to say that we are thankful to them and appreciate their sacrifices but to really feel that connection to them you almost have to personalize it and feel that sacrifice that they made everyday for us as they served.  So many stories of tragedies and death and lives turned upside down, but the inspiring part is that most of them wanted to serve our country and took pride in it so their families could live in this great country while preserving our freedoms.  So many families were torn apart as they sacrificed for us. Some temporarily and some sadly forever.  We need to think that that could have been my family, my brothers, my sisters, my father, my mother, my spouse, my uncles that did the sacrificing by leaving their families and going off to serve our country in wherever they were needed.  Most people have a relative that has served in some capacity but not all have a tragic ending.  It’s important for those families that lost loved ones to know that they didn’t die in vain.  They died for a purpose….to protect the rights and freedoms of the people in the United States of America. Those that served and came home should be honored for the special men and woman that they are. We are so grateful to them.
In my case, my mother saw my Dad who served in two branches of the armed services during World War 2… the Army Air Corp and the US Navy, go off to serve until she could join him. He was fortunate that all was well with him until he was honorably discharged. Another Veteran in my mother’s family was her mother, my grandmother. She was an army nurse. She actually met her husband, my mother’s father, who also was a veteran, while she was serving the country. Never quite heard whether he was her patient at the time that they met, but I’d sure like to think that’s what happened.  I imagine that it was probably the case.  They were married and had 5 daughters together. The sad part of this story is that he died at the young age of 45 from shrapnel complications from the war. He left behind his wife and those 5 daughters. He served his country well but there was a price that he paid. My mother was the oldest and a teenager at the time. I can only imagine what my mother and her sisters felt as they lost their father when they were so young.  They had to carry on without him.  My Mom used to tell me how tough a woman her mother was.  She had to be. She had 5 daughters to raise on her own.  So much of the responsibility fell on my mother and the oldest girls while their mother had to continue to work and make a living for them.  I think it profoundly changed my mother.  I can’t feel what she felt, but I can imagine the deep sadness that they all went through after they lost their father.  She became almost like a mother herself as she had to help take on more responsibility at such a young age to help her younger sisters.  They helped each other and they leaned on each other for support and affection.  Our family, still to this day, call them the “Barker Girls.”  (their maiden name).   If there was anything good that came out of this it was how close they all became as a family of 5 girls and their mother. There was no denying their closeness that carried on through their lives.   They all survived the tragedy of loosing their father and I think what kept them going through the years was their sense of humor.  Anyone who knew them, and there are two still with us, knew that there was never a dull moment when they were together.
I barely remember my grandmother and I never met my grandfather, of course, because he was gone before my parents got married.  He was a casualty of war but he and my grandmother and my father served our country well and they all were buried with full military honors at the cemetery.
This is such a special day for our country.  A chance to honor those that gave so much to America.  It’s not all about having a day off and having a barbeque with the family.  It’s about the men and women that sacrificed and are still sacrificing so that we will always have the freedom to do those things.   I hope that everyone took some time to reflect on what are Veterans mean to this country…..and also those that are serving now that will be Veterans one day.   They deserve our respect and our gratitude for giving up their lives, and in some cases, literally….enduring the suffering of war, both mentally and physically, and the separation from their families, to keep this country free for all of us.  We are so proud of them.
So to all of the Veterans and those that are serving now……THANK YOU!
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time,
Kay
Pictures from my small but wonderful hometown of Whitehall, NY…..

Another NBA presence in our house…

When Jimmer was a Senior at BYU and just getting started with basketball season, it was customary for the team to play a game at the Seniors’ hometowns….or at least close to it.  Many of the guys are from Utah, or somewhere in the West, so it’s not much of a problem to schedule their games. Jimmer’s situation was different, he was from NY.  After much deliberation and planning, it was going to happen.  A D1 college game was coming to Glens Falls, NY.  I’m not going to talk about all that happened during that game on this post, but I’ll just say it was a perfect, magical night for us all.  BYU won the game against UVM.  It was a memory we will never forget.

Something interesting happened at our house the day of the game.  I was sitting on the couch when I heard a knock on the door.  As I looked out the window, I saw a tall middle aged man.  I didn’t recognize him but I noticed he was holding something in his hand.  As I cracked opened the door (my husband was home so it was ok), the stranger asked me if Jimmer was home.  Obviously he knew that Jimmer was in town for the game and assumed he would be staying here with us at home.  Actually Jimmer had to stay with the team at the Queensbury Hotel so he wasn’t here at the time.

“Well I wanted to give him these pictures,” said the man.  As he showed me the pictures, I recognized that they were taken in our house.  He told me that he was one of the guys in the pictures and that he used to live in this house.  He grew up here with 2 or 3 brothers ( I can’t exactly remember how many)….very tall brothers in this little tiny house.  His name was Ray.  I don’t know what I was more surprised by…. that he lived here at all, or that those TALL people lived here.  Our house is not made for tall people.  Everyone knows that if you are tall, there are places in our house that you have to duck your head, especially upstairs.  How in heaven’s name did these very tall teenage boys manage in this house?!!!  Ray said he was 6′ 6″ tall!   I guess you make due with what you have.  Well anyways, we talked for awhile about his life here and in this neighborhood.  By then I had invited him in to look over his old homestead.  He was clearly going down nostalgia lane as he looked around.  We all can imagine how he felt being in the home where he grew up.  Lots of memories.

He then proceeded to tell me that this tall black man in the picture was a young Bob Lanier.  He was the #1 draft pick in the NBA in 1970.  He was 6’11” tall.  He was drafted by the Detroit Pistons.  At the time that this picture was taken, I’m not sure if he was already in the NBA or he was in college where he was playing for St. Bonaventure, a college near Buffalo, NY.  He actually was born in Buffalo. You can google him and read about his history and accomplishments.  Very impressive.  His shoe size alone is very impressive actually.  Size 23!!!  Of course my first question was how did he happen to have his picture taken in our house?  Unfortunately I can’t remember what he said, but I know he did mention something about basketball in Albany.  It will forever be a mystery as to why Bob Lanier was here.  The point is that he was here.  Maybe he left behind some NBA “vibes” in our house.  I noticed that Lanier’s jersey was #16.  Jimmer was #16 when he played for the Knicks D League.  I personally like the #32 better.  Ha!

Ray not only lived in this house but I also found out that he played basketball on some of the same summer teams as my husband, Al.  You can see in the picture that Ray is not much shorter than Bob Lanier.  Al said that he loved playing basketball and he was a good player himself.  If that wasn’t a coincidence enough, he dated and married a girl who went to the same college that I did.  I actually knew her.  She was a wonderful, very sweet, girl.  The sad part of this story is that he told me that she had passed away from a rare form of cancer a few years ago.  My heart sank.  As he talked about her, even though it had been awhile since she had been gone from his life, he clearly was still in a lot of emotional pain.  He lingered here in the house longer than I expected.   In retrospect, I realized that this man was here, not only because he was a Jimmer fan and wanted to do something nice for him by bringing him those pictures, but he also came back to his childhood home to soak in some memories of days gone by….a simpler time for him.  I’m sure it gave him some comfort to be here and to talk to someone that knew his wife Kathy. Ray ended up coming back one other time just to talk but we haven’t seen him since then.  My hope is that he has found solace and happiness once again in his life.

So it was quite a day that we experienced.  Bob Lanier is about 68 years old now.  Hard to believe those pictures were taken so many years ago.

So this tiny little house has a history for sure.  It may not be in the best shape, it’s weathered and warn out,  but a lot of excitement and interesting things happened here.  We’ve had people from everywhere in this house.   We’ve had the prestigious Naismith Award, Oscar Robinson Award, Wooden Award, Oscar Robinson award, AP award, the Espy award, etc., ESPN crews, BYU media crews, NYC crews, newspaper people, whole basketball teams from both my sons playing years, people from other states stopping by to see where Jimmer grew up, my daughter’s accolades from school, dancing and winning Miss NY Teen USA….the house actually looks like a small museum (some people have said), but to me the best thing that ever happened in this house is that all 3 of my children were born and grew up here.  It was full of love for each other and love for God, much excitement, good friends, an occasional pet or two, good times, some tough times, but like every family, you wake up every morning and go to sleep at night and hope that in between, your days are filled with good health and meaningful, productive, successful experiences.  The pages of life turn very quickly, and the years fly by, but this house, such as it is, has given me a lifetime of memories….and more to come I’m sure.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time….see ya!

Kay

Ray and Bob Lanier in our house…the house where Ray grew up also. Yup that door is still here. They made those doors sturdy back then.

 

Yup this is our front entryway….an older version, but you can see how Bob Lanier had to duck to get out of the house.

 

 

lots of action and love in this humble little home….

Meeting Mr. Kelly….

This post is a departure of what we usually write about here on this blog but it goes along with the theme and mission of our Fredette Family Foundation…. and that is to help and be of service to one another in any way that we can.

I want to tell you of an unexpected time that I had the opportunity to help and be of service to someone.   I’m not sure that I told my children (maybe I mentioned it in passing to Lindsay, my daughter) but if they read this they will read it for the first time. This is not to brag about helping someone, but rather I’m considering it a blessing for me to help this man named Mr. Kelly, who I’ve never forgotten, even though it was more than 20 years ago.  On this day he called me his guardian angel.  Let’s just say that I received much more than I gave to him.  This is my story.

The time of year was in late Fall when the nights were starting to get very cool.  For some reason, and I can’t even remember why, I was coming in on the Amtrak train from NYC to the Ft. Edward, NY station, about 50 miles north of Albany.  My husband was scheduled to pick me up at 9:00 PM.  Finally we got to my stop and I exited the train.  I was the only person that was to get off there…so I thought.  My husband was not there yet but I knew that he would be coming along soon, so I stood under the overhang of the rooftop of the station.  This particular station and its services for passengers coming in had been long since abandoned and there was no activity or signs of life around this old, crooked, dark building.   The only light I had was from the street light that was adjacent to me.

Usually when all of the passengers exit the train at their destinations, the door closes swiftly behind them and they take off immediately.  This night they didn’t speed away as I expected.  I noticed when I exited and turned around to face the train about 20 feet away, in the light of the doorway, stood the conductor talking to a man.  He was a smallish older gentleman with white hair.  As I observed them further, I noticed that the white haired man had an oxygen tank that he wheeled along side of him.  They spoke for a few minutes and I could sense that there was a desperate aura around both of them.  From the hand gestures of the older man, I could tell that he was upset over something.  The conductor seemed to be in a quandary as to what to do because he was under pressure to keep the schedule of the train.

Finally the conductor looked out of the train and spotted me standing there under the very dimly lit area.  He came out to me carrying the man’s suitcase, set it down beside me, and asked if I could help this man. He needs a ride.  To his great relief, I said sure I’ll help him.  The conductor assisted the man out of the train with his oxygen tank and they both came over.  The conductor thanked me and the man just nodded with a smile.  I hadn’t even done anything yet, but I guess I relieved the anxiety that both of them were experiencing at the time. I felt no fear of this small, white haired stranger even though it was just him and I in an area with very little light.   How afraid would anyone be of a small old man with tubes in his nose from the oxygen tank that assisted him with his breathing?  The conductor waved to us, hurried back to the train and it soon departed.

The man and I introduced ourselves and as he told me his name, both first and last, all I picked up was his last name….Kelly.  So I just called him Mr. Kelly.  He was a very friendly, animated man and it didn’t take me long to notice that he didn’t speak like a person from the USA.  He had a thick accent that was unmistakable to me as to where he was from. I could hear that he was from England and I was guessing, but almost certain, that he was from a particular part of England because he spoke just like The BEATLES did!  Not like the royal family British accent, but from Beatle-land!!!…. Liverpool, England!!!  Anyone that knows my group of friends from our teenage years, knows that we LOVED the Beatles.  We actually were able to go to Shea Stadium, thanks to one of my aunts who lived in that area, to see them in concert.  Yes, we were fanatics and picking up on someone else that spoke in that particular accent and dialect was easy!  It’s like the difference in how a person from Brooklyn, NY speaks as opposed to upstate NY.  Very different and very distinguishable.  So I proceeded to ask him where he was from….sure enough, he was from Liverpool, England!

Mr. Kelly told me that he was under the impression that there would be a full service train station here and that he would be able to catch a taxi or a shuttle service to get to his hotel.  It was then that I realized how desperate and fearful he must have felt as he looked out the window of the train approaching his stop.  It was not filled with the activity of a full service train station, but rather a dark, desolate, empty train station.  Ft. Edward, NY is a great, friendly, little town, but it’s a very small town where most people settle in for the night and there is not much action on the streets.  Anyone of us can imagine the fear that Mr. Kelly must have felt being in, not only in an unknown dimly lit town, but in an unknown country.  An able bodied Mr. Kelly could have gotten some help somewhere by someone…. but this was a vulnerable, weakened man depending on oxygen to keep him alive.

He was here to have a reunion with some of his old friends and they choose to meet in beautiful Lake George, NY.  Seemed like it was on their “bucket list” to meet one last time. When I look back I think about the determination and great desire he had to fulfill this last journey in his life.  It clearly wasn’t an easy trip for him to make.  Since his friends also weren’t very familiar with this area, they assumed Mr. Kelly would not have a problem getting a taxi to bring him up to the hotel.  This was back in the days when we didn’t have the convenience of calling someone on their cell phone.

My husband, Al, soon arrived and I told him that we needed to give this man a ride up to Lake George.  If you know Al, you know how kind and charitable he is.  He would have carried the man up there on his back if he had to just to help him out, so of course he said… “hop in, no problem.”  Mr. Kelly insisted that we didn’t need to do that but rather  just give him a ride to where he could make a phone call or to a taxi service.  He was such a nice man and so grateful just to be in contact with people willing to help him in this strange, unfamiliar country.  We wouldn’t hear of that and gave him a ride straight up to the Lake George hotel.

We let him sit in the front seat to make it easier on him with his oxygen tank and put his luggage in the back.  I sat in the middle of the back seat so I could eagerly lean forward to hear him talk.  I so enjoyed hearing that accent.  Of course it didn’t take me long to ask the big question.  I couldn’t resist.  After all, he was from the land of The Beatles.  “Did you ever see the Beatles play in Liverpool?” I asked.   He laughed a little and was very forthcoming with his stories about the Beatles.  I was thrilled to hear, yes, he did see them.  He called them “lads” and said he saw them before they were called “The Beatles”.  He said they were called the Quarrymen and several other names before they settled on The Beatles.  I knew he was right because I was an expert on the history of The Beatles.  They were just starting out when Mr. Kelly would see them and there were guys that were in and out of the original band.  They were a work in progress but they were beginning to become popular in the area “pubs,” as he called them.  Little did Mr. Kelly know how popular they would become.  He said that many similar group bands were springing up all over Liverpool and all over the whole country of England.  It was called the British Invasion when they began to filter into the United States.  If you grew up anywhere near the 60s, you are well aware of those times. What great music that was and actually still is.  It was like a walk back to my teen years as Mr. Kelly talked.  So we very much enjoyed our conversation with his lively personality with an intriguing Liverpool accent.  He called it a “scouser” accent for those of you interested in looking it up.  Just a thought I’ve always had….have you ever noticed that when a person that has a British accent or any accent, sings, the accent goes away?  Interesting how that happens.  It definitely happened in the Beatles’ music.

Finally we arrived up at the hotel in Lake George.  We helped him in and waited to make sure that his friends were there.  They were….and he invited them down to meet us.  Very nice also and were grateful after they heard that there was no transportation for Mr. Kelly at the station other than us….he obviously was their much loved friend.  They asked us if they could take us to dinner the next night but unfortunately we weren’t able to do that.  Before we left, we exchanged addresses so we could maybe keep in touch.  The next day sometime during late morning, I got a knock on the door.  As I looked out, I saw a big beautiful bouquet of flowers ready to be delivered to me.  I looked at the card and it read….”To my guardian angel.”  Thank you….(signed) Mr.  Kelly

I think when he got back to England, we wrote at least one time to each other but that was it.  Mr. Kelly was not a well man.  He told us of a heart problem that he had and after listening to him struggle to breathe, I understood that this trip was probably the last trip that he would take.  I felt strongly that he probably passed away a couple of months after he arrived home.

Some might say how lucky he was to have me there to help him to his destination…. but I say how lucky and blessed I was to meet such a wonderful, lovely, friendly man like Mr. Kelly.  I’m sure that 100% of those reading this would have done the same thing to help this man, so I don’t feel special in that way, but I feel like maybe I was meant to be there at that time to meet him.  What a blessing and a privilege it was for me.

I think that opportunities and certain special situations in life are all about timing.  Some good, some bad.  You hear people say that you were in the “right place at the right time” and you also hear about being in the “wrong place at the wrong time.”  I think that we sometimes find ourselves in a situation on God’s perfect timing.  My husband is never late and he is very respectful of me when it comes to picking me up….but on this night, for the first time, he was late.  If he hadn’t been late, I would have been gone and there would have been no one there to help this man…. who actually reminded me of my father.  I believe that was an example of God’s timing.

Mr. Kelly said that I was “his guardian angel” and I’d like to think that that was true.  I wasn’t a guardian angel in the mystical sense where I appeared out of nowhere then magically disappeared.  (although I believe that can happen and has happened to people).  There used to be a song back in the Oldies era called “Earth Angel”.   I think that’s maybe what I was…an earth angel for Mr. Kelly.  Every single one of us has the chance or potential to be someone else’s “earth angel”.  Those opportunities present themselves to us every day.  A kind word or a kind gesture may be all it takes to change someone’s day…. or even someone’s life.

Would Mr. Kelly have made it to his hotel in Lake George without my help?  Yes maybe he would have, but not without much fear and anxiety for him.  I think he would have had to sit down on someone’s porch steps so that he could rest. The center of town where he may have possibly found a phone or a place open, was about a quarter of a mile away….that’s over 1300 steps that this poor man would have had to take wheeling his oxygen tank and carrying his luggage through an unknown, lonely, dark street.  He would have had to choose whether to go left or right, and if he guessed wrong, it would have taken him on an even longer route. The average person would have no problem making it up the street, but for Mr. Kelly and all of his health challenges, it would have been tough.

So the point of my story is that you never know when you are going to be called upon and be given the honor and priviledge to be of service to someone else…..someone’s earth angel.  I’m sure many of you have stories like this and have received the blessing of being able to help someone in need.  The “feeling” that you receive when you have helped someone and gone that extra mile is something very special.  It’s like on Christmas day….we all like to get a present or two but how much more fun and special is it to watch someone open something that you picked out for them.  It’s no accident that are spirits soar and we feel good when we do something nice for someone else. It’s how we are all wired.  Just like when we do something bad to someone or do something wrong, we feel bad inside.

In closing, this is not to say that you don’t have to be careful in helping out total strangers, because you do, but in the case of Mr. Kelly, my instincts told me that he was no one to fear and I think if you rely on that and the spirit, you will know too.

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,

Kay

This is what the train station looks like now. I don’t think it is in service now either, but it was renovated and painted and they tried to put a little restaurant and shop in there. When my story happened, it was not painted, and looked very scary and abandoned. There were no lights anywhere except from the street light across from where I stood. Can you imagine Mr. Kelly’s thoughts as we pulled into it?

This is the lonely dark street that Mr. Kelly would have had to walk down to the middle of town.