My Field of Dreams (Memories for National Senior Day)

I want to republish a post from several years ago in honor of National Senior Day on August 21st. These are some special memories from my early high school sport years about one of my great loves: Basketball. It’s some of those life lessons learned early that allowed me to have the incredible ‘yellow brick road’ I’ve been able to follow. Enjoy the history, the passion and the love.

Watching a WNBA basketball game the other day brought back all kinds of memories. What fun it would have been when I was playing basketball in my high school and college days to have known that there was a career possible in the sport that I loved so much. And of course, my mind wander back to those early days in that small high school gymnasium in the basement of my high school in Lansing, Iowa.

My first games were played with the floor divided into three parts. Two players played guard in the back third, two played running center in the middle third, and two played forward in the front third. While I was still in high school, the rules changed and the court was divided into two parts. Three played guard in the back court, and three played forward in the front court. I tried to play with the boys sometimes because I loved having the whole court for play. And I loved being able to dribble on the whole court. We could only take one dribble. It was a challenge to see how far you could make that one dribble take you. But we played our one-dribble-two-court game with passion. We felt lucky in Iowa because not many states had girls basketball at all.

I loved basketball; I still do. I love to watch my granddaughters play. I loved playing enough to sneak out of the house for school the morning I woke up with a rash on my face and, of course, in other areas of my body. I knew something was amiss, but we had a game to play that Tuesday night, and I wasn’t going to miss it. Of course, I got no further than the first teacher I met at school, my coach. He saw me and recognized that I had measles. I really didn’t feel ill, but I obviously was sent home. My mother was not happy. I think probably she was more embarrassed because the teachers might think she sent me to school with the measles. She was pretty strict about right and wrong. Going to school with measles was wrong, but sneaking out was like lying. That was really bad.

The girls played the first game of the evening and the boys games followed. We were always pleased when we could draw the crowd to our game. We had tournaments just like the boys. Boys and girls in our school had the same coach. Eddie Albertson was a special guy. He was not only my coach; he was a mentor, my math teacher who gave me advanced math books for the summer because we didn’t have the classes in our small high school, and he was my friend. We played “HORSE” after we finished practice. He believed in me; he never “let” me win. When I did, it was pure accomplishment. He helped me to understand my athletic and academic gifts. He pushed me to find my own “yellow brick road.”

So many memories. Harpers Ferry had the biggest pot-belly stove I have ever seen to heat their barn-like gym. It was nice and warm within fifteen or twenty feet of the stove. The rest of the gym was freezing as was the classroom where we changed our clothes. Wow. I can still feel that cold. Sometimes we would stop on our way home after games out of town to have a snack. Mother always managed to have a little change for me. We never ate out so these little restaurant visits were pretty special. Waterville had sisters who were amazing shooters; Gronna sisters, I think. I envied them because they had a basket on the side of their barn and they practiced all summer. I didn’t have a barn nor could I afford a basket or a basketball.

The coach helped me buy a pair of leather basketball shoes; it was such an amazing luxury. Do you know how proud a little girl can be of a pair of leather basketball shoes? We had a little shower in our locker room; some places we went did not. I earned letters all four years in basketball and kittenball (softball). Those letters meant I earned a great deal of respect from my peers, but more importantly, I knew I had been given great physical and mental gifts. In my small town, those gifts often languished into submission to mediocrity. As each year has passed, I realize how fortunate I was to have Eddie Albertson as my coach and to work for the Superintendent who had a sign in his office that read: There’s always room at the top.

Those were the days of three-court basketball, short basketball pants, cold gyms, cold showers, getting to the game with very cold hands and feet after walking to the game and wondering if they would ever warm up. They were times of listening to the cheers, seeing the pride on your parents’ faces, getting the accolades of the teachers the next day, being elected captain of the team, and loving the coach. They were times of walking into a market and having the owner say, “Great game, Sylvia,” when normally they didn’t know I existed. And they were times when I had to walk home after practice and sometimes it was pretty scary. I could choose to walk through a pasture where there was a bull, or I could walk the road past the city dump. But my dad always told me I could run faster than anything chasing me.

They were times of expectation and happiness. I was very good at this game I loved. I learned there how to excel. I learned how to outthink my opponent. I learned the value of every minute; a game has only so many minutes. The importance of one minute on the outcome of the next, taught me life lessons. I would try to live my life like I played basketball. Give it my all, play fair, solve the problems at hand, listen to advice from those who cared about me, discard the criticism of those who envied or were trying to hurt me, play with passion, and learn from each experience. I learned that I  had been given by my Creator everything that I needed to play the game. Yes, I had been given gifts, but I knew that gifts unopened were of no value. They needed to be used, expanded, shared, and utilized to serve others.

Basketball was a field of dreams whether it was three or two courts. I was quick and very fast; I can only imagine the fun I would have had playing the whole court. But believe me, I play full court in all that I do at 92.

 

What Can We Do? What Can We Do? Saving Our Republic

A little obscurity elicits interesting behaviors and observations.

As I sat at the end of the driveway this morning, I could still see the hills in the distance. But they were far from chiseled images against a clear blue sky. They were still very visible, but the details were a little obscure.

Wow! Kind of like my nation and my church. One practices situational constitutionality and the other practices situational Bibliocity, obscuring the truths that lie in these two great, timeless documents. Oh, Yes! The pundits say these times require an update on these two timeless documents. These same people, the transformers, preach you have to consider the time in which they were written. How could you possibly impose the same standards, values, and ideas of those times on us in these modern times? They ask.

For us to try to understand the current mass murders and terrible things that are happening in our culture, we must understand that the teaching of biblical values and constitutional truths, our history, have been largely eliminated from our schools. Even the current terrible happenings, and this is true in most cases, there are warnings in school records. If one were to search diligently at lower levels of the social and emotional climate for these young people, we would find triggers there. Perhaps even as early as when they first appear at our school door. In my almost century of observation as an educator, I have watched the erosion of the teaching of our founding documents, our real history, and the removal of moral and ethical stories that carried the biblical values that made us so great.

As my mind wanders through the past many years, and I recognize in the annals of my memory of political and legal debate here and there, the foggy “modernizing” of our precious founding documents. A little fog here, a little fog there. Here a little fog, there a little fog, and everywhere a little fog.  The fog comes generally in the form of subtle attacks on the great freedoms built into our founding documents. The hope and change artists can’t change the words so they change the perceptions of the words. They put words into the mouths of our founders. The fog of perception is easy to add a little at a time. A drop at a time works. A constant drip can ultimately erode cement.

I plead with us to remove the obscurity and lift the fog from the two areas that were evident in our founding and not evident in our schools now. In my book, Refounding Education, I have talked extensively about the environment we need. In my book, America First Again second edition, I have tried to recreate the road that the transformers, those who would destroy our constitution and Christian values, have taken. We must close that road so no obscurity or fog exists to cloud the truth and rebuild a new road.

Yes, I believe we need to refound education. We need to refound an educational system that will produce an informed citizenry that understands and works to save our Republic.

 

 

Youth Reaching for the Horizon of Hope Rather than Accepting the Scraps of Despair

After watching the exciting dynamics of the youth summit in Washington D.C. on July 23rd, I was drawn again to the Jonathan Livingston Seagull story. This amazing seagull was flying toward the horizon with new ideas and new hope to find more than the other seagulls who were picking up scraps behind cruise ships. Like Jonathon who believed there was more beauty and excitement in the realm in which he was flying, these young people love their Republic and want to seek the horizon of opportunity. Like Jonathon they believe in themselves and understand that in their beloved country they are free to become everything they were born to be.

This seagull defied the orders of the Supreme Council to be like all the other seagulls on the beach. Be happy with your lot in life to pick up the scraps. Stay along the shore where you won’t encounter the storms beyond the shoreline. Just look at the setting sun on the horizon; it’s not yours to follow, they admonished.

But Jonathan wasn’t an ordinary seagull. He wasn’t like the other seagulls who conformed to the restrictions and limitations of mediocrity that prohibited his freedom. He tried new things. He ventured out beyond the horizon and found much beyond the scraps on the beach. He found beauty, excitement, and fulfillment as he dared to do all that he was created to do. But the Supreme Council of Seagulls was displeased with this horrible behavior. How could he shame them so much?

A Supreme Council of Transformers, those trying to change our beloved Republic, is asking us to stay on the beach and pick up the scraps. These folks are quick to encourage us to stay on unemployment insurance; if we went beyond that horizon we might find something exciting and want to work. They are quick to encourage us to apply for food stamps; once we accept food stamps when we don’t really need them, we will become accustomed to expecting someone else to feed us. It becomes our right. When students can borrow several hundred thousand dollars to get an education, they have lost the joy and satisfaction of their first job, their feeling of self-reliance. They owe so much; how can they be grateful? They can only hope “someone will rescue them from this terrible burden.” This slide into the culture of entitlement has not brought them hope. It has bought them dependence and a lack of self-worth.

Where are the Jonathans who will say no to the scraps? Where are the Jonathans who will fly loops of self-reliance and who will fly toward the horizons of opportunity? Where are the Jonathans  who will appear before the Supreme Council of Transformers and declare their right and responsibility to fly in the open skies created for them?  Where are the Jonathans who will dare to teach their young about the free skies and teach them to reject the scraps on the beach of no hope and change? I know they exist; I saw them in the Teen Student Action Summit.

I know the Jonathans exist. But we must encourage the Jonathans to come together in the Jonathan fly-over. If I am still flying toward the horizon at 98, there must be millions of Jonathans out there who can fly circles around me and even land at night. The scraps on the beach have never satisfied me, and I refuse to be satisfied now. I still have a voice and I will use it to convince, to teach, to cajole, to promote the horizons given to us in our founding documents. I will continue to model in the best way I know how the tenets of self-reliance, independence, integrity, compassion, truth, love, frugality, joy, and humility. I am fortunate to live in a nation that was founded on these great principles.

Dr. Ben Franklin, I will do all I can to restore our exceptional heritage to its former greatness. Only then can we continue to be the force for good in the world that freedom brings. We cannot do it as partially free people. We cannot do it when we have replaced the word responsibility with rights.

We can do it when we work, act, and think, with the faith of the birds of the air who sing in the dark before the first light arrives. We can do it with the courage of our Founders who faced death and loss of everything they had to assemble and write our great founding documents. We can do it by teaching our people to fish instead of throwing them a fish. We can do it with love, humility, and the presence of the Divine Guidance that gave us this great, one-of-a-kind nation.

We must insist that the rivers of hope and change flow toward freedom, not toward servitude of spirit and being. We must insist that only streams of self-reliance, independence, thrift, and political integrity are allowed to flow into the rivers of hope of a free nation.

To all you Jonathans. If you haven’t flown toward the horizon lately, the air is fresher out there. If you have been satisfied with one scrap on the beach of entitlement and servitude, throw it down and know that you were created to be much more.