Archive for the ‘Mud and Thunder’ Category

When you are a hugely successful columnist you often have to deal with unpleasant people. Sometimes they are from your past and decide to crawl out to try to discredit your integrity.

The sad part is they don’t realize that nobody cares what they have to say. But I really got a kick out of this one because we once served on a youth sports board together.

And then I noticed that she was commenting on some of my columns here and there. And then she tried to crash in on my FB page so I blocked her. And I ignored her comments because some were under fake names and I think she may have even been fighting with herself in some of the posts.

And now she’s sending emails that speak of people and issues from years back. I don’t think she likes to be ignored. And if she does have any friends who read this blog, perhaps she’ll read it and REALLY start to act up.

So check this out. I’ve blocked all names…

Her initial email:
Ron I saw (Jane Doe) the other night at  (High School) Grad Party. She is still working the volunteer circuit. I guess it’s where her friends are. How is she doing? She seemed to be the same as always; talking really fast, not focusing on real life things lIke the person in front of her. Does she even realize that I am a human being and not just a “thing”. She’s been in (their town) too long. She, like many of us, needs to get real. I hope she realizes this soon.

My respond:
Haven’t spoken to her since (the league banquet at least 5 years ago – maybe more). 

Her email #2

Remember when you presented her with that black and white picture?  I thought that was from the heart?  I guess it was just a business relationship.
I heard that her and her husband split up.  At least the kids are grown up and it won’t hurt them much.
Looks like you’re finally understanding the youth sports deal and that COACHES are a huge part of the problem.  Coaches seem to be the biggest problem in fact.  Parents (helicopter parents) are out there, yes.  But most parental anger comes from the coaches playing “favorites”.  And the favorites are not always the best players, not the best sportsmanship.  The favorites are the sons of the Coaches business relationships and friends of the Coaches’ son also.  It’s ridiculous how blatant coaches can be.  They don’t even try to hide it !!
BTW, my husband  told me that (former player) was a recipient of the (award that I present to a player each year and is voted on by a panel of parents).  Are you kidding me???  That kid is the least sportsminded (sic) kid I know.  He’s a prima donna big time.
He lost one of the biggest games in (our high school’s) history.  He got sacked at the end of the game and his Mommy had to peel the kid off the ground and walk him off the field.  Yup, that’s what I call courage !!  He’s a big baby.
You should have given the (award) to (another player).  He’s playing at (college) now and he deserved the award.  Not the big baby (player).

My response #2
Lol. I’ve always understood the problems of youth sports. 

(He) was very deserving when he won the award. 

Her email #3
Perhaps (he) was deserving in (your league’s) terms ‘cuz (your league) was an easy league to play in.  Put (him) under some real pressure in Pop Warner in (another town) and he would have a verrrry difficult time.

The kid is a big baby.  And to think that you overlooked (another player); the most deserving (league player) ever of that award !!  What a political shame.  It’s clear you were looking out for the parent who had the biggest mouth — (the father of the recipient).
(The recipient) is the most MARKETED kid ever.  His parents should own a marketing company. They would be brilliant.  And you fell for it.  Marketing your kid should be illegal.  If I was as good as (the father) at this trick, my kid would have everything like (the recipient) and his younger brother get.  With not much talent at all I might add.  Greedy family.  They will step over 12 dead bodies to get to their goal and they are not even on the football field !!  But they will use their money, power and influence to get it.  Sickening family.
Remember, like (a former coach and parent), I am from the neck of the woods that KNOWS THEIR SPORTS.  Not like the CT folks. 
You should be ashamed of yourself for letting politics rule (the league).  You kicked me in the ass when I was (on the board) and I was only trying to do something good and safe for the kids and you used politics.  Sickening.
I can’t believe people take your Blog seriously.   You don’t know _ _ _ _ about real sports.

Back to my commentary now
So there you have it. A crazy email from another adoring fan. Should I be scared? I’m sure I haven’t heard the last from her. Especially because I have not replied to her last email.

This is an example of what’s out there my friends. I have to laugh when a person like this tells me that I don’t know about youth sports and I’m a part of the problem.
Ugh – Can I get some bodyguards please?

Wow! My Blog stats are falling faster than my stocks. Either it’s because I haven’t been writing as much or some of you don’t like what I’m writing.

Hey! The blind guy on American Idol is a nice guy, nice story, but he can’t sing. The black guy Wednesday with the ( ) in his name was way better and he also played piano.

Phat! This is my first season watching The Biggest Loser. I like it. These unbelievably fat people work out harder than I can ever imagine (which is one reason why I’m not thin). After about two months, the changes in their faces alone are astonishing! Sign me up!

Tiles! I’ve become addicted to playing Scrabble on Facebook. It’s so cool being able to play people from all over the country. I’m holding my own but recently lost three games in a row to the same person. I hate her!

Yuck! I have a tummy ache tonight and feel as if I’m going to throw-up at any time. I don’t like feeling this way. I think it has a lot to do with being completely stressed out and not sleeping well. Oh, and worrying all of the time. I have my office trash can next to me.

Ouch! Crutches are not made for snow and ice or anything slippery for that matter. I ventured out on Wednesday. I wanted to drop off some Aflac fliers. During my second stop, my right crutch slid out from under me. I didn’t fall. My right foot landed first. It just happens that my right foot is connected to my right ankle. It hurt. I went home. It still hurts.

iPod! If you have an iPhone or iPodTouch (why isn’t it called an iTouch?)maybe you can help me out. Can I have it? Just kidding. Safari won’t let me access the Internet. My bookmarks don’t work. I can get updated stocks and weather. I can get email and my Facebook app works. It’s freaking Safari!

100! I hope I can start being active again next week. I have a goal of riding 100 miles in one day in early September and I’m anxious to start training and getting into shape. Let me know if you’d like to ride with me. I’m trying to get together as many people as possible. If I can do it, so can you.

Two! I’m looking forward to wearing two sneakers and shoes again. Well not at once. I can’t wait to take a walk around the block even if I’ll have a limp for a little while. It really is true how much we take for granted.

Just saying!

I was elected the President of the Farmington Valley MudHogs Youth Football & Cheerleading Association on Thursday night.

I ran unopposed so there really wasn’t much suspense in the final outcome. It’s a job that you take because after awhile it just ends up being YOUR turn. After eleven years of holding various positions on the Board, it was MY turn.

It’s not as glamorous of a position as you might think. The new VP picked me up in a fifteen year-old little Honda or Nissan or something like that. There were no armor doors. I’m not even sure if it had airbags.

Nobody introduced me to the Chamber as I entered and gave my acceptance speech.

The First Lady and I were ready for a night on the town at the conclusion of the meeting.

We had both chosen our favorite fashion designers to dress us up for the big night. My wife decided on Dress Barn and I chose Larry Levi and Don Docker.

We stopped by several homes of the newly elected Cabinet. They didn’t answer their doors and even after knocking on the windows, we were greeted by drawn blinds and barking dogs.

We went to Taco Bell. They had no idea who we were. I very nicely pointed out that we were the President and First Lady of the MudHogs and that several of the others in line were probably the Secret Service assigned to protect us.

The little twerp taking our order called the store manager over. Even HE became rude when we informed him of the occasion and how the cost of the food surely had already been taken care of.

We decided to leave and head to our new home. Maybe we had the wrong night.

When we got to the home of last season’s league President, he and his family were still there. In fact they slammed the door in our faces when we questioned them as to when they’d be vacating the premises. They’d been the First Family for five years and I knew the move was going to be hard on them but they’ve known since last November that it was coming to an end.

The police that arrived shortly thereafter had no idea about the situation at hand and treated us like common folk. They were even going to handcuff us if we didn’t remove ourselves from the property immediately.

I was beginning to think that something was not right in Mudville. The Secret Service assigned to us must have missed a turn along the route to the President’s residence because we couldn’t find them anywhere.

The night was not proceeding as I had imagined. We even had a gift for the former First Lady. She threw it at me while yelling, “Get the f**k out of here!”

There was a major disconnect someplace along the transfer of power. It was shaping up as quite a challenge for us. I just wanted to get down to the business of running the Kingdom that had been handed over to me.

I was the freaking President for goodness sake and nobody seemed to care outside of that Board meeting!

We decided to head back to 24 Circle Drive and spend the night there as we had for the past twelve years.

There was a car parked out front. Its lights were off, two men sat in the dark and watched our every move. The Secret Service must have finally figured out where we were. It was comforting to know that they’d be watching our every move.

For the next several days they stuck to us like dirt on a sweaty kid. We were finally getting the respect that my new position demanded.

I was worried about an attempt on my life. Several coaches were in jeopardy of not being recalled to their old positions. There was some chatter on the Internet that an attack was imminent.

I didn’t let any of it affect me. The First Lady and I still attended our ten year-old’s last basketball game of the season. The car that had stood watch over our home each night followed close behind as we made the three mile drive to the school.

In fact they even waited out in the parking lot during the entire game and made sure we arrived safely back home.

I’m hoping that the house situation will take care of itself very soon. For some reason, the Secret Service agents won’t let us get close to our new home. It’s been a frustrating few days since the Inauguration.

Being the new President sure has its challenges.

Each statement from a parent or friend below, is referring to a different player. So there are nine players, nine statements… one per player. Are you even more confused now?

The beauty (and irony) of the evening is that I can speak in front of 650 people for hours without stuttering or thinking twice about it… yet I can’t approach someone and ask them if they’d be interested in Aflac.


The Banquet

Posted: November 20, 2008 in Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah, Mud and Thunder

Our youth football league puts on the most incredible banquet. Nine years ago, I started handing out an award to a graduating (eighth grader) player each year. I wanted to give you a feel for how this award ceremony unfolded on Tuesday night.

The following is the speech that was read before the announcement of the winner. You’ll notice the speech is broken up by colors. I read the black sections while two friends (and fellow Board members) each took the other portions.

The excerpts are from emails that were sent to me by friends and family members of the nominees. A panel of seven voted and made the final decision on the winner. I have removed the last names of these players in the version below.

The book Distant Replay is Jerry Kramer’s account of the twenty-fifth anniversary reunion of the 1967 Green Bay Packers, winners of the first Super Bowl.


The book delivers a poignant and intriguing message regarding the importance of renewing old friendships and never forgetting where you came from. Its reoccurring theme is, “People need people.”


With this award comes the responsibility of attending next season’s banquet as our guest of honor and speaking to the new group of players that will be leaving Mudville.


Our recipient will also become heir to the book for one year. Hopefully he will read it and then find a space inside to inscribe a message for all future recipients.


Remember though, every player that puts on a MudHogs uniform becomes a life-long Big Brother to the league. You are forever family and always welcome to stop by for a visit.



“The Distant Replay Award is presented to a MudHog who has excelled both on and off of the football field. He is a positive influence for his teammates as well as his classmates. He is not necessarily the most talented football player on his team. He is respected by his peers; Unselfish, unassuming, and unspoiled. He leads by example.”



When I announce your names please come up to the stage and line up here…












Nine nominees

Nine distinct personalities

Nine extraordinary stories

Nine wonderful young men


How do you choose one of these young men from this group?


This mother writes, “If the qualifications for the Distant Replay award were most time spent in this league and most variety of jobs performed he would win hands down.  However, there is much more to this award and the attributes of a candidate.  He wanted to be a MudHog from age 3 when he sat on the sidelines and watched his big brother play.  Always the team’s little mascot, he ran around and in and out of the Snack Shack each Sunday until he was able to play Flag.  Flag was OK, but the fun really started when he was given his first set of pads and helmet, which he proceeded to try sleeping in that night.


How do you choose?


From a friend of the family: At the first game this season I was down on the lower field and saw the ambulance arrive.  My heart sank as it does for everyone when you see it pull up.  After a very long wait we were told he had broken his leg.  I couldn’t believe it.  His last year of Mud Hog Football and he would be out for the season.  Despite the injury, he didn’t give up on his team.  As soon as he was able to get around, he was back on the field for every game wearing his jersey with pride and cheering on his team.

This can show every player in every sport that just because you are not playing on the field because of an injury you are still part of a team.  That you can’t give up, and being a team player is not only what you bring on the game field, it is bringing your heart and soul to the game no matter what the circumstances are.  This commitment that he has demonstrated throughout his Mud Hog career will take him through every aspect of his life.  He will be there for his friends, family and teammates no matter what life will bring his way.


How do you choose?


This mother writes about her son, “Our family is built through adoption.  We have 3 wonderful boys.  And we are a multi-racial family.  He was very nervous about being a big brother but right from the beginning he was protective of his younger brother.  He wanted his brother to be in his room so he could watch over him.  As he grew older and began to understand prejudice more, he would tell us that he would always protect his younger brother and not allow anyone to say mean things to him.  Being a child of color in a white family, in a predominately white town, his little brother would comment that people knew he was adopted.  The older brother once said to him – “Why? It isn’t like you have ‘I’m adopted’ written across your forehead.”  When the younger brother responded, “duhhhh… I have brown skin & you all have white skin” – the older brother’s response was, “I never really noticed your skin color. To me you are just my brother”.


How do you choose?


Another mother writes, “This story is one that I didn’t experience first hand.  This was told to me by my dad, his grandfather (or “Pop” as we call him), with whom he has a very special relationship.  Pop brings him to practice every day.  On this one particular day, as was the usual drill, Pop parked the car and my son ran off to the practice field.  Pop pulled his camp chair from the trunk and brought it over to the sidelines.  Due to his Parkinson’s, Pop’s hands were quite shaky and he was having a difficult time untying the knot and opening his chair.  Five minutes later he was still at it.  Ten minutes later he was still at it.  Pop, head down, was still intent on untying the knot when suddenly my son appeared, untied the knot in a flash, opened the chair, and jogged off back to the field.


How do you choose?


This mother offers, “He began his passion for football while watching his older brother play for the MudHogs years ago. He has been involved in many sports.  Since the age of three, he has been quite a skier and when he suffered a broken shoulder after a fall last winter, his only concern was,  “Can I still play Football?” His passion is FOOTBALL.  He aspires to play High School and College Football. To be totally honest, of all the team sports he has been involved in, football has been the one that he has felt he has excelled in, and being a MudHog has done so much for his growth.    He has been extremely enthusiastic about playing with MudHogs, and they have done more for him than any other sport he has played.  


How do you choose?


From the father of a teammate: My son was new to MudHogs this year. The boys knew each other from Cub Scouts and school, and he went out of his way to help my son assimilate to the tryout process, and then the ropes when he joined his team. He has done the same for several other players. His experience in football, and in the MudHogs league, has been invaluable to new players coming in.  In many ways, he fully represents what MudHogs is all about.  Also, when my son got injured early in the season and required the use of crutches, this young man sought him out at school and helped him to and from classes, and in class when possible. His sense of team work and supporting his teammates isn’t confined to the field; it extends to the rest of his life off the field. He also encouraged my son to continue to attend practices and games after his injury, and this proved to be an important factor in my son maintaining his positive attitude during his recovery.


How do you choose?


From a coach: He doesn’t lose sight of what’s important. He works hard to win every game and every challenge, but knows how to accept defeat, learn from it and move on. He is concerned about others, no matter what team they are on. We have seen him take time to encourage other teammates and opposing team players when they were down.  He is very well-rounded. A sensitive young man, he is a model student and is actively involved with his community. He doesn’t do something because it will be seen as “cool” by others. He is very focused on doing what is right. He has a number of friends from multiple towns, and this is evident in seeing him interact with other MudHoggers. He is self critical, and would never consider himself for an award such as this. He’s been too busy making other people look good, especially on the football field. 


How do you choose?


From one player’s Dad: he is a multi-sport player. Away from the field he is an accomplished cello player in the IAR orchestra. He maintains an A average as an 8th grader there.

From his Mom: I of course needed to add my 2 cents!!! As parents we naturally think our kid is an all around good kid. That being said, the thing that makes me most proud as a mom is his ability to acknowledge the talent and heart in other kids he has played sports with and against. There is a humbleness that he has acquired along the way. I’d like to think he’s learned it from his dad and me, but I think he gets all the credit for that.


How do you choose?


From a Mom and Dad: His love for the game is infectious. In fact, for his Bar Mitzvah community service project earlier this year his desire was to share his love of football with Hartford children who could not afford equipment. He asked guests to bring Dick’s Sporting Goods gift cards so he could buy new equipment to donate to Hartford Public schools. Over $500 of supplies were donated!  It’s hard to put into words the impact that this MudHogs experience has had on our son.  It has become part of his identity that he cannot wait to carry into High School.  The MudHogs have taken a mediocre athlete and spectator and turned him into a strong, confident leader who sees the payoff of the hard work and hours that he has put into this. We feel that the MudHogs have helped to shape our son and helped him to grow into the person that he is, but we also feel that he has given back to the MudHogs in his dedication, persistence and spirit!                                                                                                                             

How in the world do you choose?


As one parent wrote to me in an email:


“Being nominated is the same as winning.   It may not seem that way to a 12 or 13-year old.  And we talked about how this is a great reflection on them, on the program, and on the way they are perceived by their coaches and parents.  This award is important for just that reason.  We need to recognize kids that are doing it right, setting an example and giving the young kids something to look up to.   We choose one winner because that’s what tradition tells us to do, but we must be sure to let these kids know that we are equally proud of all their accomplishments and proud that the choice was so difficult.” 



The recipient of the

2009 Distant Replay Award is: 




From Chris’ mom, Dee:

When Chris was 5, Cameron joined our family as our foster child and he was 19 months old.  Chris was very nervous about being a big brother but right from the beginning he was protective of his younger brother.  Being an older child, Cameron went through a period of tough emotional adjustment and even at such an early age, Chris knew Cameron needed his big brother.  So even though Cam had his own bedroom, Chris wanted his brother to be in his room so he could watch over him. 

A few weeks after Cam came into our family, another foster child was placed in our home.  He was a 2 day old infant, going through withdrawal from crack and fetal alcohol exposure.  Being a foster family has many challenges.  Because Cody was so ill at birth, many people were all of a sudden involved in our lives – lawyers, doctors, visiting nurses, social workers and the never ending stream of court appearances.  Through many trials and ups and downs, 2 yrs after Cam & Cody were placed with us, our family was official and complete. 

Even though he didn’t realize it at the time, these events were the cornerstones to Chris’ growing up into the young adult that he is.  Because of our circle of friends and our involvement in the foster care and adoption community, Chris has met many children with emotional and physical challenges.  From holding the baby who suffers from shaken baby syndrome to playing with a peer who was removed from his family due to physical abuse, Chris has learned that there are many children who are in need of secure and loving homes.

As they have grown, our boys are truly brothers – they fight and they yell just like any other brothers. But Chris is the brother they look up to, the brother Cam wants to emulate on the football field and the basketball court: the big brother that helps them with their homework and is protective of them.

The core of Chris’ character is evident in all of Chris’s school reports, through his Sunday school teachers, camp counselors and the coaches he plays for.  He is a natural leader, has a great sense of humor, is very aware of the hardships that other children go through – not just in his personal world but in the world around him as is evident in his project to help orphaned children in Afghanistan.  He is a team player and an honors student.  If you were to ask Chris his feelings about his adoption – he would tell you that he feels very fortunate and blessed.  But truly – we are the ones who have been blessed.  And above all else, as Chris told his second grade teacher when she asked him what he was best at – he answered – I am great at being a kid.



Posted: November 9, 2008 in Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah, Mud and Thunder

The Trade Show was disappointing as far as the amount of people that attended. I doubt they collected enough cans of food to even feed a family of two for three days.

The show was not a complete waste of my time though. I met a lot of other vendors and made some contacts that could turn into some possible business for me. It cost me $60 for the table and about another $20 for the items that I raffled away so I’ll just have to stop bringing flowers home for my wife every night.

My ankle was feeling like it was full of cement by the time I arrived home and sure enough it was swollen for the first time in months.

Sunday morning began earlier than normal because the five and six year-olds in our Flag Football League play their last game of the season every year on the high school field. I call it The BIG Game (OK so I’m not ALWAYS clever). We give them a sample of what it will be like when they become tackle football players. The kids are all announced individually and get to pick nicknames. So skinny little Johnny Smith can be announced to the rabid crowd as Johnny “I beat the Hell out of my sister” Smith. 

The day ended eight and a half hours and another swollen ankle later when the last player handed in his equipment on this, the last day of the season. Praise God.


OK NBC, you’ve got me curious enough to tune in next Thursday at 10pm to see how the heck you plan on bringing dead Dr. Green back for an episode of ER. I haven’t watched the show for over a year but I’ve got to see this. I took it extremely hard when he died. I remember the show ending with Somewhere Over the Rainbow being sung by that really really fat Hawaiian guy (he’s dead in real life).


So for the past couple of days there’s been a puddle next to the refrigerator. At first we thought the dog had gone pee-pee there or that the ten year-old had spilled something and just went on with his day without saying anything to us.

But now we’re quite sure that it’s water. OMG we don’t need to have to replace the freaking refrigerator right now! Some very good friends of ours returned home one day to find that their refrigerator flooded the first floor and leaked through the ceiling of the basement and ruined the carpet down there.

So this could be a wonderful opportunity for us. The carpet and flooring are about twenty years-old. Can you see where I’m going with this? Maybe it was dog pee or maybe the boy did spill something and didn’t tell us. How should I know? I’m not a freaking refrigeration diagnostic expert.

I thought I just read someplace that everything of value in your home should be on wooden blocks just in case a liquid disaster strikes. It never hurts to be proactive.

I’m back

Posted: October 28, 2008 in Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah, Mud and Thunder

It’s been a long few days.

My newsletter got a few people upset by me referring to a football game as the Loser Bowl. OK so maybe I wouldn’t use those exact words again but the message was meant to be a positive one. I’ll let you decide for yourself.


Then I was in the middle to two coaches that wanted to fight each other. It’s been a whirlwind of emails and phone calls and protests and mean people saying mean things so I’m completely burned out over the entire situation.

If you are thinking of being on the board of a youth sports league, don’t freaking do it! Run away as fast as you possibly can and don’t look back. The kids are fabulous are as most of the parents and coaches. But the rest of them suck the joy and enthusiasm for the job right out of your body.

I’m still riding a wave of emotions here so pardon me if I sound upset. I’m not even going to rehash the details except to say that one coach approached another after a game and then they began shouting. Both had to be held back. I was stuck between them. I was yelling too. I was shouting to one of them to go home and for the other to keep walking away in the opposite direction.

They wouldn’t listen. It was more important for them to keep fighting and thus setting a bad example in front of the kids that look up to them and the parents that trust them with those kids. It blows my mind. I always feel bad for the coach that was baited. But just walk away. Stick your fingers in your ears… pull hard enough to snap the line… and swim to deeper water.

I’m just a little worn down after my wonderful adventures this weekend. Don’t give up on me!