P.J- A.J

These little acronyms stand for Pre- Janet and After Janet. My wife always laughs when talking to people when she says that I have a whole other life. That is why she got me to write my stories in a blog. A lot before my marriage to Janet and still a lot A.J, because Janet gives me a pretty long leash. LOL!!

I actually have three volumes of this blog printed into coffee table books so that someday- it will be a reminder of all the fun times that I have had- P.J and A.J. Maybe my son and his kids will read it someday? Because really- Jack has no idea of all the antics that I have been through. He is not married yet but someday……?

The Coffee Table Books.

Now if you have been reading my blog, you will find that I have done nothing really spectacular. But in over 360 posts, I have chronicled a lot of life. My main purpose is to get people our age to keep doing things. That is important. I try to tell stories that make people chuckle- especially if they know me. The Pre J stories are fun. Skiing, cycling, hiking, etc. In fact- Janet picks up the coffee table books from time to time and says,” I never knew about that?” “That’s why I wrote it so that you and Jack can see the fun adventures that I have had.” My music that I blare at high volume in my Jeep by myself would surely be strange to her. The New Riders, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Susan Tedeschi, etc. Not her deal but that is part of my ………………..other life.

Heli Skiing with the Terrible Towel.
Fishing trips with my grandfather.
Mountain Bike racing with the Greenlee’s Team. ADJ trips!!

Then there are the stories that are A.J and also a new category that I call Adjacent to Janet. ADJ. Like I said- my wife give me a lot of leeway and I have adventures that she prefers that I do by myself. When I was first married, Janet was still flying for US Air as a flight attendant. I would use those buddy passes for many trips to the point where I would see her friends in the airport and they would say,” Pat- are you taking another free flight without Janet? Where is she.? ” I would laugh and say,” She is working” This was all pre Jack. My neighbors would call me the married bachelor. I would live my adjacent life when Janet worked and then when she returned, we would do things together. That still holds true today.

Snowshoeing with our pals the Flying Smittys.
Rails to Trails at Niagra on the Lake.
Skiing Locally
Skiing West
Hiking. An activity we do together. A.J

Janet and I are empty nesters now and she is doing a lot more things with me that she had not done before. Or more accurately, more of what we do. And the good news is that she is enjoying it. She still lets me go when she doesn’t feel like going and I take advantage of the time with myself. I enjoy my own company. I talk to myself and get answers. There are times that she is finished skiing for the day, for instance, and I can go rip a few by myself. Just to make sure that I still have it. There are days locally that are too cold and windy for her with low visibility. I like those days and take advantage of skiing by myself and work on things. I have my local posse of skiers and mountain bike riders that definitely fall into the category of ADJ. But for the most part, if I can do something with Jan, I do it and we build our memories together.

So- yes, I have had a whole other life as Janet would say, but those are fun memories and the concentration now is A.J more than anything. The more you can do with your significant other, the better. The empty nest makes us pretty flexible. Thanks for reading and go hit the outdoors.

An ADJ hike in the woods. Complete with bloody nose. LOL!!!

How to Ski an Area Effectively

Whiteface , NY

Jon Weisberg from http://www.SeniorsSkiing.com suggested that I write a piece for him on how to effectively ski a given area. Interesting topic which can be shared in his magazine and also on my blog here. Kind of kill two birds with one stone so to speak. So here goes.

Let’s start with the smaller areas like we have here in Western Pa. and Western New York. Moving from slope to slope or trail to trail regularly can be an effective way to maximize the satisfaction out of an area with a smaller vertical drop. I also try to make as many turns as I can in order to really utilize the terrain. Maybe a ski with a tighter turn radius can be used and often if you combine the tactic of ” keep moving” and “make turns”, you can see where the best snow is at a smaller area and then focus on lift lines and crowded conditions. My favorite local area has one really good slope- the best slope in Pa. It also has a number of trails and glades as options, but really, I like to lap Wildcat at Laurel Mountain and utilize its steeper terrain to the best of my ability. People ask- ” Pat- how can you ski the same slope all day long?” I tell them it is the best slope in Pa. and I change up my lines every run. Skiers left, middle and skiers right always yield a different challenge each run and really you can make the most out of limited terrain if you vary your lines. I mix it up with some selected runs down the trails at Laurel- often taking in great views of the Ligonier Valley. But for the most part, you can see me lapping the Cat each time from a different line.

Mammoth Mountain, California

Moving on to larger areas, a number of tactics come into play to effectively ski an area. The first one is to get there early to beat the crowds. This is true everywhere you ski. Oftentimes the best grooming is available in the morning or the morning’s best powder stashes can be accessed if you get up early and get to the parking lot and on to the slopes early. Once there, I often follow the sun. Look for where the sun shines first and go there for good visibility. If the slopes are not crowded, feel free to rip some big GS like turns because there is no fear of lots of people impeding your progress. Once the slopes begin to assemble people, those moving targets need to be respected and you can move on to another area which may not be as sunny and perhaps less crowded. I try to avoid the crowds at all costs. At Deer Valley a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the lifts servicing the black diamond slopes seemed less crowded. The reason is that the entry to those slopes were pretty icy and people tended to avoid another run. For me- that is the green light to keep skiing them. If you can stand a little bit of adverse conditions, you will have a particular run or runs to yourself with no lift lines.

Steins Way at Deer Valley

Skiing at lunchtime is another tactic where you see the lines dramatically disappear. Make use of the time and pump in a snack bar or some fruit that you have packed in your parka and wait until later in the day to eat lunch. It is amazing how areas empty at lunchtime and then especially on a Sunday, when people tend to leave for home, you can access a lot of vertical. I remember being in Austria with my friends Mark Singleton and Kenny Griffin. The local lift attendant looked at us quizzically and asked why we were skiing so much at lunchtime? We were supposed to be taking a “siesta” but as Type ” A” Americans, we were trying to access the most vertical we could get and take a break from the Euros stepping all over our skis in the lift lines. People want to ski and they want to get by you. Sometimes your skis tended to take a beating. LOL!!

On a powder day- people tend to hunt the fresh lines and leave perfectly good snow behind that is cut up from the masses. I ski with wider skis ( 107 mm under foot) on powder days and no matter how the new powder gets cut up from the crowds, the wider skis just plow through without even a thought. People with narrower skis tend to egg beater and disappear when the smooth, powdery, runs are cut up. But if you have the right equipment, you can continue to ski the cut up lines and avoid lift lines and the rush by the locals for new lines.

Arapahoe Basin ,Colorado
Northstar, California

Also- don’t be afraid to try new areas. It is easy to get into a rut and ski all the same areas on a trip or regularly in your home region. But the more terrain you can access that is different, the more your skiing will improve. I have skied in a lot of different areas in my lifetime and I am glad that I took the time to do so . I get in a little bit of a rut locally but even at that, I try again to mix up the lines, and the runs for maximum use of limited terrain.

When skiing with my wife, I also employ another tactic in that I check the area grooming report. I see where the most recent grooming has occurred and head there. She thanks me for the recon. Lastly- another tactic that can be used is to ski the lower part of the mountain after most of the crowd have moved on to the upper portions of the mountain. People will take a few runs down below and then head up to the rest of the terrain. Oftentimes if you ski the upper part early, you can come back down and the lower half of the mountain is empty. And the best is that- most of it is usually still in the sun on a good day.

Think ahead. Out think the masses and you will have a good day or week navigating the areas the most effectively. Ok Jon? LOL. Thanks for reading.

Ski Bars- Home of the Whoppers!

Ski Bars- Home of the Whoppers

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From the Best of http://www.chroniclesofmccloskey.com

One of the wonderful things about a great day of skiing is sharing the fun ups and downs( no pun intended) of the day with your friends at the local ski bar.  Apres ski, as it is called, is a celebrated ritual at great ski bars across the country like the Snorting Elk at Crystal Mt., Washington or the Classic apres at the Red Lion in Vail.  East Coast skiers hang at places like the Wobbly Barn on the access road in Killington, VT. or the iconic Matterhorn in Stowe, Vermont.20140227_174308slide4  Last March I had a great day skiing at Whiteface up in the Adirondacks with my pal Mike Smith and we sat at the corner of the bar eating a late lunch at The Cottaqe which was the scene of many a McCloskey, Durfee, Smith, ski outing.  We loved talking to the bartender about…

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The People Who Made a Difference

Peter Duke helping out in his son’s ski shop.

Scrolling through Facebook last week, I came upon an ad for Point 6 socks. Really great socks that I use for skiing and mountain biking. The owner and founder is seen above helping out in his son’s ski shop in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I know this guy and was happy to see him again in a photo even though I have not seen him for many years. Peter Duke was a great influence in my life at the time that I met him and this is the story.

When I taught skiing at Sugarloaf, Maine back in the day as a young guy, I was working towards my certification for ski instruction through the Professional Ski Instructors of America. I took many clinics in New England and met Peter as one of my course conductors. As it turned out, I had Peter for several clinics and we got to know each other. He was tough. At the time, we had to do what they called final forms which are basically maneuvers on which we would be tested and Peter wanted to make sure that they were perfect. He was a taskmaster that made us all work hard to get the final forms correct and to make sure our teaching was up to snuff in order to pass the exam. He had no problem whacking me on the backs of my ski boots if my ankles and knees were not flexed and telling me that I needed to perform or I would not pass any test much less an evaluation for the clinic in which I found myself. It was my good fortune that Peter was hard on me. I needed the work and he was demanding but fair. I respected him and was happy that I was getting what I think was the best teaching at the time. At 21 years old and just out of college, the exam was important to me because it was a way to validate what I had invested in ski teaching up until that time. It was not a career but was a great avocation. You learn a lot about your own skiing while teaching and taking clinics with the best in the country. Peter was one of those people.

Fast forward, I was at my exam in Killington, Vermont and Peter was there He was not one of my examiners but took the time to talk to me and remind me of what I had learned with him. I passed the test and became” certified” and will always be grateful to Peter for his skills, his teaching and his demand for perfection. He even introduced me to the greatest rain gear at the time- Bukflex. It was a sailing outfit and when I saw Peter wearing the gear, I had to get it. I used it for many seasons skiing and teaching in the rain. Seems like Peter had it all going on and whatever I could glean from that guy- I took it.

Several years later I was skiing in Heavenly Ski Resort out in California and I remembered that Peter and Stu Campbell ( of Ski Magazine fame), were running the ski school out there at the time. I went to the ski school office and had a nice chat with the both of them and they gave me comp tickets for the week. Nice!!! We talked about the days when they were at Stowe. In those days, the guys from Stowe were the kings and kind of a fraternity of the best examiners and course conductors. Peter and Stu got the opportunity to run the ski school at Heavenly. I told Peter what a great influence he was on me as a young guy seeking my certification. He acknowledged and said it was a tough test that many people cannot pass. He was glad to be a part of my success.

Lake Tahoe from Heavenly Ski Resort

Several years ago, I had heard that Peter had founded SmartWool socks and eventually sold the business. He was a savvy businessman and I was happy to see that he had founded a company with such great notoriety. At the same time, I was running in an off road team trail race out in Colorado called the “Colorado Relay”. Lots of fun with my Armada Supply Chain Solutions team mates and we were enjoying the expo associated with the event. I came upon a booth with the name Point 6 and went to investigate. They were giving away socks for the runners to try. I was talking to the rep in the booth when I heard him say that the founder of Point 6 was the same guy that had founded SmartWool. I looked at him and said.” Peter Duke?” He smiled and said yes and asked if I knew him. I said yes and he said, lets get him on the phone. I think he was kind of calling my bluff but when Peter answered, he said” Hello Pat. What are you doing these days? ” I think he actually was happy to reconnect and was also happy that I visited the Point 6 booth. We had nice chat and after all these years, it was nice to hear his voice again. A lot of time had passed and the exam process was a distant memory, but I always remembered his clinics and a lot of what he taught me is still ingrained in my skiing today. I still buy Point 6 socks because of the quality. But I also like the fact that I am supporting the company of a guy who had a lot of influence on me in my younger days.

Facebook takes a lot of criticism for many things- warranted and not so much. But the nice thing is that sometimes, you see these pictures of people who you have not seen in a while and they remind you of good times in the past and maybe how people have come and gone in your life but remain an influence. Peter is one of those people. He probably does not realize the impact he had, but when I saw his picture on Facebook under the Point 6 ad, I was happy to reflect on our past association. Point 6 is a great company that makes quality merino wool apparel. If you get the chance, check them out. You will not be disappointed and now you know a little bit more about them. Thanks for reading and think snow!!!

” If you really want something- give it.”

I was in the parking lot of my church with Johnny Salvini ( a great guy and friend) who quoted a wonderful Christmas saying . ” If you really want something- give it.” He heard that line while he was volunteering, ringing the Salvation Army bell at one of the local malls. I asked him how his experience was and he said it was really an excellent way to spend some time during the Christmas season. As with most people who volunteer, he stated that he got more out of it than the time that he gave. He greeted people with “Merry Christmas” and they responded with smiles and donations to the kettle. Some people said ” I don’t celebrate but thank you.” You see- Merry Christmas is not offensive but a wonderful way of greeting people this time of year and celebrating the Christmas season. Christmas is a time of giving and if you focus on that, you will really get what you want at this time of year.

The Pittsburgh Creche- US Steel Building

Switching gears just a bit, I am in our local county park a lot and I often think of the many nights I would run around the lake and finish at a grove right near the parking lot. That grove had beautiful lodgepole pines surrounding it and was a perfect setting for a Christmas creche that was set up for years inside the grove. I can remember running in the winter on cold, clear, nights, looking up at the stars and thinking about the birth of Christ. When we speak of giving- that birth, life ,and death on the cross with the Resurrection, was the greatest gift of all and we celebrate at this time of year. I thought about that a lot as I ran around that lake and at the end of the run, I always walked up to the pine surrounded grove and spent some time looking at that creche. Loved it when it snowed too- just added more to that ambiance. I thought about the significance of the Christmas season and also what was going to happen with my life. Would I ever have a child? What would lie ahead for me and my young wife Janet? What could I do to give more at this time of year and how those acts of kindness would mean more to me than the ones receiving the gesture? It was comforting to run and then stop to see that creche at the Christmas season. It was a symbol of the greatest gift of all and how we are called to walk in that light.

The vacant grove

Things have changed in the last several years and there is no more creche in that grove. It is kind of cold and lonely out there at night and when I rode up to the grove the other night on my mountain bike, I was kind of saddened at the scene. The creche was always a reminder to remember the true meaning of Christmas and in many ways, an inspiration to be true to Johnny Salvini’s quote- ” if you really want something- you have to give it” That inspiration is ringing that bell for the Salvation Army, volunteering and giving your time to a cause that is bigger than yourself, visiting a sick friend and giving them hope and inspiration, and in general being kind and loving rather than angry and bitter with the current state of the world today. People need your help. Please – give it. Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas.

Flying Solo

One from a while back

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From the Best of http://www.chroniclesofmccloskey.com

photophotoMount_Rainier_from_west So here I am out in the Pacific Northwest for a meeting in Sumner, Washington. As is my custom,I take a personal day to do something fun as well and today, as I am driving up the rural road to Crystal Mountain, I thought of my dad. It was 52 years ago that he and my mom took my sister and I skiing for the first time in a raging snowstorm in Pa. What a great gift he gave us and look what he started. The gift that kept giving all of these years. I had a chance to think about it on the drive because I was by myself and had time to think and enjoy the drive through the Cascades. I was supposed to connect with a friend who lives out here but she and her daughter were still in Vail and we…

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Wagner Bowl

Wagner Bowl – Seven Springs, Pa.

For most of my life I have always looked forward to this time of year when the ski season in the mid -Atlantic rolls around after 8 months of waiting. You have to be a real enthusiast to be watching the weather and looking for the snow reports. As a kid, I used to scour the weather on TV and call the ski report to hear the iconic Lars Skylling tell everyone that the ski season has begun and the skiing is ” good to excellent with a few izzzzzy spots.” It is tough to be enthused with the climate change affecting our ski seasons but none the less, I always get excited to make those first turns- no matter where. If you are a skier, you understand. If you are a person who goes skiing here and there, you might not have that same vigor. And the first turns for about 60 years now have been on Wagner Bowl at Seven Springs Resort here in Western Pennsylvania.

My last turns for the season were with my friends Mark Hutchinson and Eric Durfee at Mt. Rose out in Nevada. I make an effort to get out west twice a season and also get up to Western New York and the Adirondacks to try to stretch out the season and possibly make up for any shortfalls here. I live in Western Pa and can’t be out west all the time, so I try to ski locally as much as I can. People harass me and say why would you go to Seven Springs and ski Wagner Bowl when you have the opportunity to ski elsewhere? I tell them point blank, I like to ski. I like to make turns. And if that is limited to Wagner Bowl, so be it. At least I am on the snow and making that first turn over the crown of the bowl every season. More will be open at Seven Springs and Laurel Mountain as the season progresses, but for the moment, if Wagner is the only game in town- I am in.

The Chutes at Mt. Rose
The Summit Chair at Whiteface – Lake Placid
The Daly Chutes at Deer Valley, Utah

I can remember as a kid skiing Wagner Bowl with wooden skis, cable bindings, and leather lace boots. No snowmaking then and no grooming. Cold Friday nights with icy conditions. I couldn’t get enough. Richard Nicolette and I would rush in and grab a hot chocolate and warm ourselves by the roaring fireplace being careful not to melt our jackets or gloves. We then would rush back out the door and head up the Wagner chair lift for more. We hated it when the lifts stopped. I still do.

Young Pat in front of the old Ski Lodge

So yes, I have plans for this season skiing with my wife out west and some other plans that will stretch our ski season. But it will all start with that first turn over Wagner Bowl at Seven Springs. Just as it has for the last 60 years. People will laugh and think I am crazy or I will get the usual jazz from people who say that they just ski out west. I tell them so do I, but if you only do that, you ski maybe 5 days a season and you are a person that skis, not what I would consider a skier. A skier who lives here makes the best of it. I ski in the rain and whatever the weather throws at me. The more days I can get in the better. It is a short season in the mid-Atlantic and the Laurel Highlands and you have to make hay while the sun shines. Because in spite of your trips, the season will end and it will be a long 8 months until you ski again. Some people are not hooked like me. Some have given up. But I try to maximize the ski experience. I watch the World Cup on TV and watch carefully how the world’s best make turns. I always learn something every year and that keeps me going.

Love to watch Mikaela Shiffrin ski. A portrait of balance
Mammoth Mountain , Ca. But it all starts on Wagner Bowl.

So I am waiting. And so are lifelong ski friends around here. I have skied with most of them for 60 years. We all started as kids and still text, email, and call each other in anticipation of the coming season. I can’t wait to see them and really folks, I can’t wait to ski Wagner Bowl. Think snow and thanks for reading.

Dixon, Melissa and Jaime- still skiing after all these years.
The Nicolette Brothers at A Basin- still skiing strong.

The Toilet Bowl

The Toilet Bowl from the Best of http://www.chroniclesofmccloskey.com

chroniclesofmccloskey

From the Best of http://www.chroniclesofmccloskey.com

QCBFL_-_Snow_Game_2011_Vander_Veer_Park%2C_Davenport_IowaYou know ,we all are really like a piece of malleable iron. Life’s experiences mold us, shape us, prod us, squeeze us, as we go through the refiner’s fire of life. This shaping process makes us what we are as adults and forms our basic personalities. A lot of this happens during the formative years of our lives. Take for instance when I learned to swim as a boy. I took lessons and was pretty good in the shallow end. When it came time for the test, I was afraid of the deep water. My mother who was sitting in the lounges with all of her girlfriends in hysterectomy row, as the lifeguards called it, was observing the proceedings. She instructed Don Geyer the pool manager to throw me in much to the horror of her friends. She said,” ladies- that water is going to…

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The Return of the Ride King

Jeff Wuerthele- aka ” The Ride King”

You know, you have to be a special kind of enthusiast to get two knee replacements and then come out on a 28 degree morning to bounce around on the rocks and roots of Laurel Mountain in November on a mountain bike. Jeff Wuerthele is that kind of person. In fact this whole crowd of guys who are in their 50’s and 60’s are enthusiasts who think nothing of weather and just appreciate the opportunity to ride in the Laurel Highlands on one of the last nice, sunny days of the year. From this point on, the weather here gets a little sketchy but these guys take it all in stride. They are also skiers and snowboarders so it stands to reason that they are not inhibited by weather that would make most people shy away and just sit on their couch watching SportsCenter. These are fun guys and I am happy to call them friends. In fact, my doc who is also in this group, commented that we all are good friends united by the sport of mountain biking. Guys like Jeff Wuerthele kept us all together for years with rides in the mountains and I am happy to have him back on the trails. He said it was the first group ride he has done in a while and he was happy he showed up.

Just to give you a snapshot of how these guys tick- lets take a quick look at this group, of which I am the elder statesman soon to be 67 years young.

Jeff Wuerthele- retired, former bike industry luminary and overall fun guy who lives full time in the Laurel Highlands and enjoys snowboarding and riding a mountain bike- again after two knee replacements.

Angelo Ross- the youngster in this crowd. A true renaissance man who is a retired school teacher, is currently on the Alpine skiing education staff for the Professional Ski Instructors of America. He has his own podcast, his own clothing business, and is also a guide for Wilderness Voyageurs in Ohiopyle, Pa. Very talented in a lot of areas.

John Cassucio- successful businessman and mountain bike and skiing enthusiast who is in excellent shape and fuels himself on Hammer products and vitamins. He is a testament to living cleanly and respecting his health as he ages. Not to mention a fun guy with a great sense of humor, and a skilled videographer.

Mark” the Shark” Sauers- mentioned many times in this blog. A true character who is a successful sales guy in the medical field, a certified snowboard instructor and excellent mountain biker. Perhaps his greatest asset is his willingness to share his faith on the trails with all those who ride with him. He walks the walk for sure.

Steve Gurtner- dentist and enthusiastic skier and mountain biker. Great sense of humor and a really skilled rider. His famous self deprecating line is ” Pat- we are bringing our B game to an A ride.” Not quite true in his sense because he is a fit, skilled rider, but funny all the same.

The Doc- Syed Hyder- seen here on the right. Syed is always on a busman’s holiday on our rides because he is always patching up people. The story of him inserting a presta valve into some guys chest on a ride to relieve air pressure is legendary in the medical community. An excellent and skilled rider and a really funny sense of humor always entertains us on the rides.

5 old ding dongs trying to repair Syed’s tire. Jeff working hard- LOL!
The Doc prior to Wolf Rocks eating his tire.

While we were all out in the woods as far as we could be from the cars trying to repair Syed’s tire in many different ways, we all remarked that just hanging around in the sunshine in the Laurel Highlands was enjoyable enough. Nobody cared that we were temporarily dead in the water as it was all part of an adventure for old guys out in the wilderness. That is the cool thing about mountain biking. Probably more than any venture I do outdoors, this community is responsible for fostering many lifetime friendships. Hard to explain – you have to be a mountain biker to understand. But, the adventures, the laughter, the camaraderie and the ability to participate as we all get older is fantastic. Most of my friends are either mountain bikers or skiers or in many cases, both. Lots of gray hairs under those helmets.

The wonderful end to the day of adventure was eating at the Out of the Fire Cafe in Donegal with our good friends – Julie and Jeff Chetlin. Jeff is very much like the Ride King in that he is the lynchpin of many cycling groups. Currently rehabbing from a health issue, Jeff is anxious to rejoin this group of merry men as well as others in the expansive network of Chetlin ride partners. He and Julie were so happy to see everybody and hear the stories of mishap on the trails. He is missed and we are all sure he will soon return to full health. Like Syed, he remarked that he has met all his good friends through mountain biking. Again, there is something about this sport that is uniting in many ways and we all feel it one way or another.

Angelo, the Ride King and Cassucio- just hanging around.

So, as I finish my rambling this week, I guess the point of all of this is that there is value to being active outdoors that extends beyond the health benefits. To participate in a healthy, challenging sport and to foster life long friendships as a result, is a real plus as we all age. I always remember Scott Nichol, of Ibis Bikes, stating a simple encouragement. When I asked him how long did he think we all could do this at this level as we age? His simple remark was,” Pat- don’t think about it- just keep doing it.” That has been my mantra for sure- just keep doing it. And if I can do it with friends like these guys, I will be a happy man living a long, healthy, fruitful life. Thanks for reading.

Friday Night Lights

Jeremiah Hasley and Kristin- his mom!

Nothing quite restores your faith in humanity than taking in a high school football game on Friday night. It is there you see excitement and happiness. Kids hanging out and supporting the booster club refreshment stand. Looking around to see who is there with smiles and maybe this boy or that girl is noticing them. The booster parents talking to each other about where their son or daughter is going to college, how is life going in general, and a feeling of camaraderie in selling whatever they can to support the team or the band. Football parents talking about the upcoming game. Who will win? Will they go to the playoffs? Who will they play? And if there are any offers on the table for their sons to play college football? Everyone is happy. Everyone is excited. And the stadium where I went last Friday night is nothing short of spectacular. Pine Richland High School Stadium looks like a small college stadium. Well kept, beautiful field, and when the band came out to play……..WOW!!!! A lot of college bands could take a look and see an amazing spectacle. Even the tuba players were all ladies. With white tubas. What an atmosphere and makes you feel pretty good that the youth of America- at least the ones participating in high school sports and the band, were really on track.

Senior Night – Jeremiah and mom and dad.

So, the forecast looked iffy and I donned the rain suit to go inside to meet Daryl, Chris, and Craig Hasley. We were all there to see Daryl’s son Jeremiah play for the Pine Richland Rams. Now the interesting thing about the Hasleys is that they all support the football program and they all are excited to see Jeremiah play. The cousins, the uncles, the aunts, and even the matriarch of the family – Mrs. Hasley. Mother to Daryl, Chris and Craig and Jeremiah’s grandmother. No matter what the weather, she is there to support her grandson. That night it was senior night and the pride for Daryl and Kristin, when they escorted their son Jeremiah on the field, was evident in their bright smiles and happy conversation. Big night for the Hasleys for sure.

As the night went on, I was amazed at the announcer who seemed to say at the end of every play, ” Tackle by the senior- Big Jeremiah Hasley.” Or ” gain on the play by the senior- Big Jeremiah Hasley” Or ” reception by the senior, Jeremiah Hasley.” The young man is a human wrecking ball and it is not surprising that a lot of Division I football programs are interested in him. But he made his choice recently and accepted a full scholarship at Duke University. The young man is not only a good football player, who plays both sides of the ball the whole game, but is an excellent student and Duke should feel privileged to have him as a student athlete. This season is a wonderful finish for him seeing that he has state championships already in the bank as Pine Richland is the reigning Class 5 A State Football Champion. No small feat and unfortunate that their championship winning coach is no longer with the team. The school board had a perceived issue with him and summarily dismissed him despite his huge success and his cohesiveness with the team. The seniors were devastated that their coach was the victim of an agenda that was never really validated. But the team persevered and Jeremiah leads the team this year as the captain and soul of the team. At 6’3 and 225 pounds, Jeremiah is an imposing figure on the field and he is visibly the leader of the Rams as they wage their way through the 2021 season. But that is not exclusively why Jeremiah and young men like him restore our faith in humanity. It goes much farther than his scholarship and his athletic ability.

Jeremiah and his grandma.

You see, Jeremiah has character. When Daryl and I went down on the field after the game, we came up to a completely exhausted player who leaves nothing on the field. He was tired and in a ball of sweat, but was the first to say- ” Hi Mr. McCloskey- how are you? ” Thanks a lot for coming to the game.” He summoned up all the positivity he could after a brutal hard hitting game to greet me and thank me for coming. Not the typical dead fish handshake, or someone who doesn’t look you in the eye when he greets you, but rather a polite, engaging young man who on senior night wanted to make sure that his grandma who was waiting in the wings was happy and that all his cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends like me had a good time at the game. How could we not?

Jeremiah at his old grade school classroom

Young men like Jeremiah give back to the community too. He recently visited his old grade school classroom and spoke to the students and answered their questions about football, what is is like to play, and other questions that Jeremiah patiently answered. They even asked for his autograph which he sheepishly gave them in humility befitting a young guy with his character.

As I said goodbye to the Hasley brothers, I went to my car and thought about what a great kid this Jeremiah is. I thought to myself, ” don’t believe all the junk you see on TV about the youth of America and the negative portrayal of the generation growing up today. Sure there are issues, but if you look at the youth today playing high school sports, participating in the band, or other extracurricular activities, you soon see that you can have faith in the generation coming up. As an older guy, I nostalgically look back on those days of my youth when I see things like Friday Night Lights. I am refurbished with the bright conversation and polite demeanor of a young man who has his life ahead of him. Good luck and God’s speed to Jeremiah and his parents. As Huey Lewis would say, ” his future’s so bright, I have to wear shades.” Thanks for reading.

Photos courtesy of proud mom – Kristin Hasley