2017-06-16 / Opinion

Always a Fan


David Treadwell David Treadwell In the summer of 1975, we lived in central Ohio. Early one Saturday morning, I drove my 8-year-old son David to a nearby town for a swim meet. Shortly before reaching our destination, David announced that he was starving. Indulgence trumped intelligence, so I stopped at McDonald’s and bought him a Big Mac. Less than an hour later he swam in the first race of his life, the boys 8-and-under 50-yard freestyle. He broke the team record. The coach said, “I don’t know what you fed him for breakfast, but do it again!”

Forty-two years later — last weekend, in fact — I went to South Portland to see my 15-year-old granddaughter Emma (5’ 10”) play in four — count ‘em, four — basketball games. Her team won two and lost two, one of the losses came at the buzzer.

I’ve always loved watching my kids and grandkids in action and, in truth, most sports played by most people, with the exception of NASCAR and “professional” wrestling.

Here are some highlights of what I’ve seen as a lifelong fan.

• Younger son Jon pitching and older son David catching in Little League baseball.

• Two sons and two stepsons breaking the Gilman School (Baltimore) record in the swimming medley relay.

• Son Jon playing in the semifinals of a big junior golf tournament in Maryland.

• Hosting son David and 14 Princeton water polo players in our condo in Boxborough, Massachusetts when they played in a tournament at Harvard. (Those guys knew how to eat.)

• After a Princeton-Cornell water polo match, getting stopped twice by cops when leaving Ithaca - once for speeding, the second time for driving too slowly. (The second cop laughed when I explained why I had been driving so slowly.)

• Jon swimming backstroke at Bowdoin.

• Running as part of a five-man marathon relay team with my two sons and two stepsons at the Burlington Vermont City Marathon. The team name had to be health related. Our team (“The Omega Five Fatty Asses”) won the men’s family division, thanks to my four fast teammates.

• Jon running in a half marathon in Philadelphia and David competing in the Maine triathlon.

• Grandson David IV (Tina says, “They’re nice people, but they’re not very creative when it comes to names.”) scoring a career high 19 points in a basketball game in Seattle as a high school junior.

• Our good friends’ grandson Ashton Grant scoring three touchdowns in his first game as a wide receiver for Assumption University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Now a rising senior, Ashton has already been approached by two professional football teams.

I’ve seen hundreds of Bowdoin Polar Bear contests since moving to Brunswick in 2002. In fact, I’ve seen about every sport but curling, although the women’s basketball teams remain my favorite. I’ll even use my laptop to see one of our host student’s roommates play an away softball game. On such occasions, my wife Tina has been known to mutter something which sounds suspiciously like, “Get a life.”

I’m well aware of the dangers of zealous parents who get over involved, the ones who criticize volunteer coaches, rather than just sitting back and letting the kids play. In fact, I encountered a few of them when I coached Little League baseball. That said, most parents do the right thing most of the time.

Yes, it takes effort to be a hardcore fan. I planned many a business trip around my sons’ athletic schedules. And anyone who’s ever had a child on a swim team knows what it’s like to drive two hours to a meet and then swelter in humid stands for four hours while your kid swims a grand total of 2 minutes and 47 seconds. But I’d do it all again, no questions asked.

David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary or suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns at treadw575@aol.com.

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