My Holiday Family (December 23, 2015)

Updated: December 23, 2015

Most of the time when I’m at ballgames I’m by myself. I go down and chat with coaches, or parents, sometimes athletes. But the majority of my time spent in the gym is by myself, talking to myself, and analyzing the game.

But that’s what made Friday night in Peetz so unique. After making my coaching rounds, I went to the lobby. Why? Because there was food (good food at that, one of the many reason I enjoy going to Peetz). And if there’s food, you can bet I’ll find a way to be there.

Even when there’s food, I often times end up eating by myself. Quite frankly, I’ve gotten used to it. I use that time to fill out the sheets I use to track stats during my broadcast and get myself in the right frame of mind to bring the broadcast over radio.

But because there were a lot of people eating Friday night, I ended up sitting at the table with the Schumachers. I don’t initiate conversation very much (shocking for a guy who talks for a living) but we got to talking. And they pointed out that this was the twelfth year and final year I’ll be covering their family as a radio play-by-play talent.

My first year here I covered the now co-head coach of Peetz Girls Basketball, Jessie, when she was a part of the state-qualifying volleyball team. She got injured during the postseason and didn’t play basketball.  From there, it was her brother Bryce, followed by Cyndi, then Tyler, Stalina, Emily, Melissa and now Jodie (thank you to Elizabeth Fehringer for helping me put them in the right order!).

As long as Jessie remains the coach of the girls team, I’ll remain tied to the Schumacher family as I cover Peetz athletics. And that’s a cool feeling. Even though I barely remember Jessie playing, to have those people, those families, which I’ve repeatedly followed in my time in Northeast Colorado is a reward unspeakable.

This past Monday, I had the privilege of witnessing the signing of Megan Gerk to become a Northeastern Plainswomen Volleyball player beginning in 2016-2017.  She is one of many local players set to join the roster, which will be a lot of fun to cover considering I’ve followed many of these players throughout their high school careers.

Megan is a unique player for me to continue covering, however. Her dad, Rich Gerk, was the head coach of the Haxtun Boys Basketball team that won the state championship over Eads in 2005, during my first year here.  He remained the coach of the team until his son, Jake, entered high school. And after a few years off, rejoined the ranks of coaching as the now Haxtun Girls Basketball head coach.

Once Megan has graduated Northeastern, I will have covered a member of the Gerk family for fourteen straight years. I’m sure there’s a myriad of other families that I’ve done this for. Names continue to come to my mind as I write this.  But it brings up something so integral to the holiday season – family.

During the holiday season we’ll be spending time with family. Growing up, it was always a trip to Julesburg to my grandparents house with all the Blecha cousins. Then up to Ft. Collins to spend some time with my Nana.  Often times it was on the actual holiday, sometimes it was not.

We’ll see pictures of these celebrations on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the litany of social media sites in use for constant contact in 2015.  Pictures of the food, pictures of the family, pictures of the presents. It’ll all be out there for display as snapshots capturing our memories.

Whatever the celebration may be, whenever the celebration may be, family is the center. But to each their own in the definition of family.  I was raised on the traditional definition of family, spending the holidays with those I’m blood related to.

As my life has progressed, so many others have joined my definition of “family.” My daughters and I have already celebrated Christmas with Kayelani and her immediate family, who came into our lives when we were most in need. We’ll celebrate together, they’ll celebrate with their mom, my mom, my dad, and many others who are immediate “family.”

But I also feel that the Northeast Colorado Sports Community is one giant family. Many times those who were foes in high school, become teammates in college, and friends for life. Coaches move from community to community, parents have kids that attend different schools, and relatives who attend even different schools. It’s one extended family.

And whatever my role is in that, I’m glad to call the sports community my family as well. I may not be eating your food (although if you would like to bring me a plate, container, or gigantic bucket, I won’t say no!), but know I’m there celebrating your achievements. As we head into a new year, I’m looking forward to telling to stories, of this giant, dysfunctional family one minute at a time!