Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dad Returns a National Champion and Finds a New Favorite Player

Well, the basketball season is over. Dad has returned from his annual outing to the NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four. And for another year, Dad gets to claim his alma mater as the best women's college basketball team in the land! Thank you, Lord. When Dad's Vols need a national championship in the worst way, he can always count on Pat Summitt and the girls.

But unlike his previous trips with "the girls" this one brought Dad back a bit calmer, more reserved and interestingly enough with different perspective. Like many fans, Candace Parker was the favorite -- looks, personality, wonderful speaker and a game that makes most men green with envy. But for Dad, this team finds him with a new found love for "Nicky." Yes Nicky, as in Ms. Anosike if you're nasty (forgive my Janet Jackson flashback)! It seems Dad read a wonderful article by Michelle Voepel on describing what Nicky will be doing now that her college basketball is over. You see, Nicky played her last game Tuesday night as a Lady Vol. She finished her career with a second national championship, but what comes next for Nicky had the most impact on Dad. As the daughter of an immigrant from Nigeria, Nicky was one of eight children. She saw her mother work hard and at 40 years old receive her nursing degree.

"A lot of people would have been satisfied being on public assistance and living in a project building," Anosike said. "But my mom wanted a better life for us. She's the reason I'm here right now. I have to live this to the fullest, and make her proud. Let her know everything she did was for a reason."

Much like myself, Nicky was certainly faced with challenges growing up. She worked hard in school and earned the right to play at Tennessee and gain an education. Nicky is not Lebron James. She did not suddenly turn into a multi millionaire after today's professional basketball draft. Nicky, as Voepel's article points out, will begin working for Teach for America at an elementary school in Newark, NJ this fall. "What a wonderful young woman," Dad said. It seems Nicky's heart and her frame of mind are in the right place. And most similar to myself, Nicky is setting a course to speak for those with little or no voice. Nicky is giving her time and I feel safe to say, her love, to children in poverty who want and need an education. Dad tells me that in this world of greed, warmongering and economic inequality that grows larger and larger every day, Nicky is the most valuable of all players. And for Dad and myself, shes our new favorite player. Bless you Nicky. You give Dad and I hope for the future.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Candace's Bum Shoulder Almost Does Us In!

As I have alluded to in previous posts, Dad has a love for his Tennessee Volunteers. This isn't just "fat Phil" and the football team and Bruce Pearl and the revitalized Tennessee men's basketball team. No, Dad turns into another person whenever any young college athlete with orange "TENNESSEE" across their chests takes to the arena. So last night, we watched his beloved Tennessee Lady Vols take to the court in search of their 18th Final Four appearance (yes, Dad is quick to point that out to any uconn fan who might offer to debate the merits of his Lady Vols as what women’s' basketball is all about).

With an early lead, Dad was fine, playing it cool. I was the happy recipient of his good nature as the chew treats were a flowing!! But just hold on a minute. Candace was hurt (that's the "greatest women's basketball player ever” Candace Parker)! Shoulder...a dislocated shoulder! It cannot be! Candace, play through the pain...please! Dad's sanity and my ability to snack for hours depend on it. As Candace was taken to the locker room late in the first half, I knew my fate – a walk around the neighborhood. That's not all bad, but compared to dog treats for the next two hours -- not ideal. As usual, Dad proclaims "I'm not watching anymore...too nervous!" The walk was longer than usual, as Dad and Dad had to help the late Reba and late Cheyenne's Dad move a refrigerator into his new house (the damn thing wouldn't fit through the door...what in the hell were they thinking).

But true to Dad's routine, his blackberry played the role of scoreboard. Candace had returned strapped up on her left shoulder and willed the team to a victory. Eighteen Final Fours for his beloved Lady Vols. All is right with the world. Candace, on behalf of a Dad who loves his Lady Vols and a dog who relishes dog treats, thank you. Dad looks forward to his trip to the Final Four this weekend, and me to yummy treats when you bring home championship number eight!!!