Remember as a child looking at the world with wonderment and how big everything seemed to be?
I think of that often as I get older and happen to pass by certain places that I frequented as a kid. I try to remember what things looked like then and how they look now and how it either changes or confirms my thoughts as a little kid.
About a year ago my wife and I visited the high school stadium that I played football in way back when. We walked right onto the new field and stood at the 50-yard line. The stadium has been completely redone with a new artificial playing surface, new stands, press box and scoreboards, but I could see it clearly the way it was when I was a senior.
I pointed out several parts of the field where I had either puffed out my chest after a hard tackle or where I completely had my semi-manhood handed to my little 125 pound frame. I’m certainly not that weight today and would have killed to weigh what I weigh now then, but like I said, things change. After spending my high school years in that stadium I later roamed the sidelines as a sports editor and along with my wife, who kept the stats while I shot photos, we were able to point out several areas where we saw big plays or fantastic flops.
My wife made a funny comment when she said, pointing at a particular spot right near the 33-yard line, “And that’s where the referee threw you out of a game for yelling at him!”
She laughed when she said it. Still to this day I think it tickles her to death! In fairness I’m sure I deserved to be thrown out of that game. I knew the ref and had bumped heads with him in the past for one reason or the other as a player, later a parent and then as a member of the media. It was a mutual dislike.
I did manage to take the high road and not write anything about the encounter or complain about it. I mean, what was the purpose? The guy was a terrible ref when I was in school, terrible ref at that point in time and probably wouldn’t be any better down the road.
Remember when I said things seemed bigger when you were little? Yep, turns out this gentleman was sort of a saint. Helped non-profit groups, ran a business which was very forward thinking and served on many committees and boards that helped enrich and improve the communities where he lived. I just thought he was a bad referee. I didn’t see how really big the man actually was, or how much he meant to the community. I recently talked with a friend of mine from high school and he was telling me the gentleman passed away and was telling me of the things he accomplished in business and with the areas where I hadn’t lived in almost 30 years.
“He threw you out of that one game that time,” my friend laughed.
“Yep, I probably deserved it, I should not have been acting like that while I was working with the paper,” I said.
“No, I’m talking about when we were juniors and he threw you out of that baseball game for looking at him like he was crazy when he called a strike on you.”
“Crap,” I yelled, “I forgot that, but that ball was as high and wide as an old barn.”
My friend nodded in remembrance of the moment, both of us not realizing how big it actually was because we were younger.
This gentleman was someone who influenced people and did great things for many. He stood for a community and tried to make it better as best he could. Many people benefitted from his kind and generous efforts and should always be recognized.
He was a terrible ref, but he was certainly bigger than I thought he was.
If you see me, say “Hey!”
Dee McLelland is the Publisher of the Coastal Courier and the Bryan County News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 876-0156.