football

marshall-plane-wreckagemarshall-crashWhen a disaster strikes, we often see whole cities affected by the event. Rebuilding takes years, and the emotional scars might never heal. Plane crashes, while a disastrous event, seldom affect an entire town, not even if the plane crashed in the town. Those affect the people who saw the crash, rushed in to help the survivors, and cleaned up the aftermath…usually. That was not the case on November 14, 1970, when a charter plane carrying most of the Marshall University football team clipped a stand of trees and crashed into a hillside just two miles from the Tri-State Airport in Kenova, West Virginia. The team was returning from that day’s game, a 17-14 loss to East Carolina University. The investigators found that the plane was to the right of the correct approach corridor, and that is why they clipped the trees. Nevertheless, the plane crashed killing thirty seven Marshall football players, the team’s coach, its doctors, the university athletic director and 25 team boosters members, who were some of Huntington, West Virginia’s most prominent citizens, and had traveled to North Carolina to cheer on the Thundering Herd. One of the citizens of the town of Huntington later wrote that “the whole fabric, the whole heart of the town was aboard.”

It had been a rough decade for the Thundering Herd. Their stadium had been condemned in 1962. It hadn’t been renovated since World War II. From the last game of the 1966 season, the team had not won a game. There had been some issues concerning recruiting violations as well, but the team seemed to be getting back on track. Dishonest coaches had been fired, the field had been rebuilt and they started winning games again. The loss to East Carolina was a real squeaker, and the team was looking forward to a better year the next season. Then disaster struck. For Huntington, the plane crash was “like the Kennedy assassination,” one citizen remembers. “Everybody knows where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.” The town was in mourning. Shops closed, and windows were draped in black. The university held a memorial service and cancelled the Monday classes. The funerals seemed endless, taking place over the next few weeks. Everyone in town knew these people. Perhaps the saddest ceremony, was that of six players whose remains couldn’t be identified. They were buried together in Spring Hill Cemetery, on a hill overlooking their university.

Marshall got a new football coach…Jack Lengyel, from the College of Wooster in Ohio, who set about rebuilding the team. As a rule, Freshmen are not allowed to play on the Varsity squad, but Marshall was given special permission. Lengyel put together a mix of first year walk ons, and nine veteran players who had not been on the plane that night. It was a long road. The team lost the first game of the 1971 season, but in what seemed to be a miracle, they won their first home game against Ohio’s Xavier University 15-13, with a last second touchdown that seemed almost too good to be true. The team only won one other game that first season. During Lengyel’s four year tenure, they won nine other games, but none of those were as emotional as the first one. It was like they were playing for those who were lost, and maybe they were, or maybe it was because marshall-u-aerial-crashsitememories-of-marshall-ex-player-says-shock-of-crash-never-ends-2they were playing at home. No matter what happened in the remaining years of Lengyel’s tenure, the town would never forget how he brought the sport out of the ashes and brought hope back to the town. It wasn’t that football was all they had, or even that it could remotely compare to the loss the town had experienced, but I think it was more about honoring those lost, by not giving up. Those lost were not quitters, nor were those who remained.

anchor-barWe’ve all eaten them…unless you are allergic to chicken that is. Hot wings. They grace just about every Super Bowl party food table, or any other football gathering for that matter, but where did the idea come from? Well, they have been around longer than I thought they had. I think that many people used the chicken wings for soup stock, and some restaurants even threw it away. Now my husband likes the wings, but much of the time, I find them a waste of time, unless they are in the form of hot wings. I think a lot of people would agree with my point of view.

Accounts of the invention of hot wings, or Buffalo Wings as they are often called, vary, but apparently the one that has been most accepted is that they were invented by Teressa Bellissimo, who along with her husband Frank, owned the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York. When the Bellissmo’s son, Dominic made a surprise visit from college with several friends, Teressa needed a fast and easy snack to present to all of her guests. It was then that she came up with the idea of deep frying chicken wings and tossing them in cayenne hot sauce. Apparently, the wings were a big hit. However, when a long article was written about the Anchor Bar, no mention was made of the Buffalo Wings.

buffalo-wings Another man, John Young also claims to have made the first Buffalo Wings covered in a special Mambo Sauce in his Buffalo restaurant in the 1960s. Young’s wings were breaded, unlike the hot wings of today. Young registered his restaurant as John Young’s Wings ‘n Things, at the county courthouse in Buffalo before leaving the area in 1970. The Bellissimo family claims that the Young Buffalo Wings used the same sauce as the Bellissimo Buffalo Wings. I suppose it really doesn’t matter who invented them, or what sauce is used, especially since there are multiple flavors now. The main thing is that pretty much everyone has had and loves Buffalo Wings. In fact, they have become a party mainstay since the 1960s.

Keifer steelers12279182_10208291253019798_4627236881389401356_nMy grand nephew, Keifer Balcerzak has always been the kind of guy who likes to laugh. He has a great sense of humor, and really can be quite the comedian. He completely embraces the idea that all women are, and always will be a total mystery to men…a fact that I’m sure his wife, Katie enjoys immensely. Seriously, what woman doesn’t want to keep their man on his toes, and off his guard when it comes to them? And let’s be real here, men do not now, nor will they ever understand women. It’s just best to concede that fact, and do whatever she tells you to do. The home will be a much more peaceful place if you do…just saying, Keifer. I have a feeling that “peace” isn’t exactly what their home is like, however, because if I know Keifer, I imagine that a lot of teasing is going on there, because he does love a good joke.

Like most guys, Keifer loves football, and is looking forward to the coming season. Thankfully for him, he likes the same team as his dad does…the Pittsburgh Steelers, but that is one place where I have to say, he missed the mark. The Broncos are the best team, and that is just not up for negotiation. Still, I suppose both of them will argue that point with me. Apparently, they both still think they can win an argument with a woman. How crazy is that? It will never happen.

I can see that Keifer loves kids, and is a great uncle them, so even though he doesn’t pick the right football team, he wins points in my book, just for that part. I think someday, he and Katie will make great parents, because it is obvious that they both love children. And with his goofy ways, kids love him too. There is a lot to be said for a man who will get out there and play with the kids, no matter what their age or gender.

Keifer reminds me so much of his dad, Dave Balcerzak. The older he gets, the more he looks like his dad, and they both have very similar abilities. They are Technology Geeks for sure. Some people have a mind for GoofyUncle Keifertechnology, and others just don’t. While I normally don’t need much help in the technology area, it is always nice to know that there are people I can call, who really know their stuff…and that would definitely be these two. When it comes to computer assistance, all I can say is that he and his dad are great additions to our family. After all, families working together and helping each other out is what it’s all about. Today is Keifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Keifer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageimageMy nephew, Shannon Moore, who joined our family when he married my niece, Lindsay Hadlock Moore on Valentines Day, 2014, is the Special Teams Coordinator and Tight Ends coach at East Carolina University…home of the Pirates. Prior to being hired on at East Carolina University, Shannon was the Special Teams coach at Miami International University. The move to East Carolina University was a definite move up for Shannon, and Greenville, North Carolina, where the University is located is a real football town…quite a change from Miami, where the beach was more important than football. Greenville even has the ECU Ladies Football Clinic, which is really a football camp for women. To see Lindsay and Shannon interacting on the football field is a little strange, and from the looks on the faces of the other women, I think it might be an interaction that the other ladies might not consider, since it looks like Lindsay takes advantage of the fact that imageshe is married to the coach. I’m sure the other ladies actually got a kick out of it, because Lindsay and Shannon can be very funny when they get going. And I think that Shannon kind of enjoyed the whole coaching the women thing too.

Along with football, Shsnnon likes to do most of the guys things…like camping. I’m not sure how much camping he did before he met Lindsay, but since her parents have a place on Casper Mountain, he has come to really enjoy it. Now with summer upon us, and his work less busy, he and Lindsay have been exploring the Greenville area. The other nice thing about having more time in the summer, is that they can make trips home to see the family. The spent a week in Nebraska camping with Shannon’s family, and will be coming here this week for camping and a family wedding. We all look forward to seeing them again.

Shannon finally has a big garage again, after a number of years without one. Apparently, he is quite handy with the carpentry tools. His garage has become the carpentry shop. He built Lindsay a standing desk for her office. She works from home, and doesn’t like sitting all day. He also built a pallet bed for one of their guest imageimagerooms. I hadn’t really seen a pallet bed that had a finished look before, and I must say that Shannon is quite good and what he does. His work is amazing, and innovative. Lindsay says he is also quite handy at projects around the house, whether it’s yard work or building something. He just loves it. As Lindsay says, “It must be a man thing.” She also says that he is quite busy being an amazing husband…biased…maybe a little, but we all love Shannon, so we have to agree. Today is Shannon’s birthday. Happy birthday Shannon!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageGarrett & KaylaWhen I think about the fact that my nephew, Garrett Stevens is 26 years old today, and getting married soon, I find it hard to believe. It just doesn’t seem possible that he is not still the silly little boy he was, not so long ago. Being the only boy in a family of three kids, I’m quite certain that he did his share of teasing his sisters, but that never seemed to matter Michelle and Lacey both thought their brother was just the greatest. In fact, it would be Lacey who would introduce Garrett to his future wife, Kayla Smiley, and the rest of that story is, as they say, history. They fell in love, and the wedding is coming up fast. Nevertheless, Garrett could get into mischief, and did…on a regular basis. It was just the kind that was too cute to get mad about.

Garrett is like his grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer in so many ways. I often see Dad in the things he does, and the way he is. One of the big ways is when he is playing with the little kids. So many people are just too adult to get in there and really play with the kids, but not Garrett. He doesn’t mind all the rough and tumble ways of kids, and he doesn’t require them to be quiet and sit down…like they were in school. My dad was that way. He would get the little kids going, and the loud laughter and excited screams would soon follow, almost to the point of driving my mom crazy. She would beg him to stop it, but the kids were having so much fun that she finally just gave in. I see that quality in Garrett, and I know that when he and Kayla have kids…well, Kayla, you have been warned. Your house will be noisy…but then, that’s a good thing. A home filled with laughter is a huge blessing. Garrett also loves camping and fishing, as does Kayla, so they will be a great team. In fact, the imageRaelynn, Zack, Garrett, Isaac, and XanderStevens family all love the lake and camping out, and go every year around the 4th of July.

Garrett took up the same profession as his grandpa too…welding, and he is very good at it. Like his grandpa, Garrett is a Broncos fan, as am I, and that makes him ok in my book. He’s got his team priorities straight, and that’s important. He also likes the Colorado Rockies. I knew there was a reason I liked this kid. He’s got it together. Today is Garrett’s birthday. Happy birthday Garrett!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Super Bowl 50This year’s Super Bowl game will the historic 50th Super Bowl. That’s a milestone by any standard. That made me start thinking about the origins of the Super Bowl. Now I’m sure that most men can tell me all about it, but let me see if I can tell them something they didn’t know. The Super Bowl is the championship game played annually between the AFC (American Football Conference) and the NFC (National Football Conference). It must be played at a different stadium each year. As most of us know, it is the most watched professional sports event in the United States. The Super Bowl even draws the football widows in to watch the game…and the Super Bowl is the game that sometimes, as in my case, turns a football widow into a football fan. It has been likened to a national holiday. The half-time show is performed by popular musicians and singers and the only day in which more food is consumed…is Thanksgiving. I’m sure many of you knew or could guess all that.

So, what brought on the need for a Super Bowl in the first place? It was a result of the NFL (National Football League) merging with the AFL (American Football League). The NFL fought for dominance in the professional Devner Broncos helmetsport, fending off several professional leagues, including the AFL. The fierce competition for players finally led to merger talks in 1966. On June 8, 1966, the merger was announced, the winner of each league’s champion would meet in a final game to determine the world champions. Of course, that game would need a name. AFL founder and Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt jokingly referred to the proposed game as the Super Bowl, after watching a group of kids play with a toy called a Super Ball. The name was consistent with college “bowl” games, and became the permanent name of the football championship game.

Since the first two Super Bowl games were completely dominated by the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, there were doubts as to whether or not the AFL was an inferior league. All that changed the third year when the AFL’s New York Jets defeated the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. The following year, another AFL team, the Kansas City Chiefs won the game against the Minnesota Vikings to put the two leagues at a tie for games won. Super Bowl IV was the last championship played between the two leagues. After that the two sides were called the AFC (American Football Conference) and the NFC (National Football Conference), but the championship game would Panthers helmetcontinue. The trophy that is given to the winning team at the Super Bowl is called the Vince Lombardi Trophy, named after the coach of the Green Bay Packers who won those first two Super Bowl games. It was first given to the Baltimore Colts at Super Bowl V.

This year’s Super Bowl game will be held at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The teams playing are the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. That makes it especially exciting for me, because the Broncos are my team. The Panthers are good team too. This game could prove to be a nail biter, so hold onto your seat…the game is on!! By the way…did I tell you something you didn’t know before?

Packers vs BearsI don’t know about your family, but in my family, there are a number of “die hard” football fans. Basically the situation is this. If their team is playing, don’t walk in front of the television, unless it is a commercial. Now my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I are definitely “die hard” Broncos fans, but we don’t always watch the game. I suppose lots of people would say that if we don’t watch the games, we aren’t “die hard” fans, but I say we are. You will never see me going for another team if they are playing my Broncos. I will root for my kids teams, as long as they are not playing the Broncos. That’s just the way it is. Now, in our house, there is no big football fight, because both Bob and I agree that the Broncos are our team, but our kids have homes that are in football division, making game day a little more heated. Nevertheless, I doubt if game day was ever quite as heated in my kids houses as it was with the Heidi Bowl. For many of you, I’m sure that a question has now arisen…namely, “What is the Heidi Bowl?” In fact, I’m sure that many of you are wondering if I know anything about football at all. True enough, there are a number of Bowl games played, with the ultimate one being the Super Bowl, and yes, I do know about football, and I assure you that the Heidi Bowl did exist.

The Heidi Bowl was played on November 17, 1968. The two teams were the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets. The game between the Jets and the Raiders was a classic nail biter. It featured two of the league’s best teams and 10 future Hall of Fame players. With a little more than a minute left to play, the Jets kicked a 26-yard field goal that gave them a 32-29 lead. After the New York kickoff, the Raiders returned the ball to their own 23-yard line. What happened after that will go down in football history. The Raiders quarterback Daryle Lamonica threw a 20 yard pass to halfback Charlie Smith. A facemask penalty moved the ball to the Jets’ 43 yard line, and on the next play, Lamonica passed again to Smith, who ran it all the way for a touchdown. The Raiders took the lead…32-36. Then the Jets fumbled the kickoff. Oakland’s Preston Ridlehuber managed to grab the ball and run it two yards for another touchdown. Oakland had scored twice in nine seconds, and the game was over. Oakland won…43-32.

I’m sure you are still wondering how this was called the Heidi Bowl. Well, I’ll tell you. At the point where the game had just 65 seconds left, NBC switched off the game and put on the movie, Heidi, which had been scheduled to start at that point. The Oakland Raiders came from behind to score two touchdowns in nine seconds. They beat the New York Jets…and no one saw it, because they’re watching the movie Heidi instead. So the only people who got to see the end of that intense game were the people in the stands. Viewers were outraged, and they complained so vehemently that network executives learned a lesson they’ll never forget. “Whatever you do,” one said, “you better not leave an NFL football game.” It didn’t matter what was scheduled…the game is played out. Football Boys

The Heidi Bowl was not a Bowl game that anyone, who loves football, ever wanted to watch, but it was one that was played, nevertheless. For anyone who doesn’t care about football, I’m sure that the thought was, “Oh for Pete’s sake, what is the problem?” Well, that was not the question for the NBC executives ever again. The problem is a huge one. Ratings!! If you want the ratings, don’t make such a big mistake as to jump out of a game 65 seconds before it’s over. Sure, most of the time there wouldn’t be much change, but you just never know…and if it does, you don’t want to deal with the aftermath.

Shannon Bryan Moore10704068_553510371444423_7786498508958125091_nWhen you are married to a college football coach, watching sports is…well, a given. Thankfully for my niece, Lindsay Moore, this is not a problem, because she loves watching sports with her husband, Shannon, especially when it is his team playing. Although, I guess she doesn’t get to watch those with him…exactly. Shannon is the Special Teams Coordinator at Florida International University. One of the nice things for Lindsay and Shannon is that he often has to travel for recruiting purposes, and obviously, football season does not run all year, so this leaves them with lots of time to travel, since Lindsay works from home, and a laptop can go anywhere. He takes Lindsay to a sporting event in any major city they go to. Which is usually baseball right now, since its the football offseason. They did get to see a Miami Dolphins vs. Minnesota Vikings game this last December, which Lindsay really enjoyed, however.

Traveling is a wonderful thing for them both, because Shannon loves to explore. His adventurous spirit has them trying new things all the time. Most of the time, this is very cool for both of them, although sometimes it can take Lindsay out of her comfort zone a bit…like riding a Zip Line in Keystone, South Dakota for instance. I almost had to laugh about Lindsay not being comfortable with that, because Bob and I did that a couple of years ago. It just seemed odd to me that a young person would be uncomfortable with it, but then my own daughter, Corrie Petersen was too, so I guess the comfort zone knows no age. Nevertheless, Lindsay said that they did it, and it was awesome!! I would have to agree.

With lots of time to travel, Lindsay and Shannon have take to going camping with their parents as much as possible. This has been a blessing for both of their families, since they live in Florida, which is a good distance from either of their families. This summer has found Lindsay and Shannon traveling in South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, and Arizona…so far. Shannon’s adventurous spirit is having great time, for sure.

Shannon is the type of person who really never met a stranger. He meets them, and he is their friend. He has the ability to adapt and settle in wherever his work finds him next. That is a great quality to have, since many 11752442_10206391242916337_997825846203509466_n10888761_602519219876871_4668856541609791875_nof us have trouble meeting new people. Lindsay says of her husband, that he is seriously the nicest person ever, he has a great laugh, and that he always keeps her smiling, laughing, and feeling adventurous, but probably her favorite thing about him is his kind heart. He is a no strings attached giver…just because he likes to help people in any way he can. In other words, he continues to amaze her every day. A good thing in a marriage. Today is Shannon’s birthday. Happy birthday Shannon!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Uncle Larry, Grandpa Byer and Uncle Wayne go hunting.You have heard that for everything there is a season, and that is true in so many ways. One that I doubt if you ever thought about, is the seasons for things we do. Now this isn’t going to be a serious story about philosophical things, but rather it will follow a little bit different path. Typically, for most men, there is football season, baseball season, basketball season, and hunting season, with a few others thrown in there for some people. In times past, most women would have left this to the men, but that has changed, as there are probably an almost equal amount of women that like to do these things too.

As to the season for hunting…which I think just got over…but since my husband and I don’t hunt, I can’t say for sure. I do know that for years my parents went hunting, and I can remember the wild meat…cooked to perfection by my mom. It was so good. Not everyone can cook wild meat to make it not taste gamey, but she could. They went hunting with my grandparents, and I know that my uncles did too. imageEspecially as young men. I doubt if my aunts went, as girls anyway, but I could be wrong on that. I do know that a lot of my cousins hunt…both male and female cousins, so it is something that runs in our family on both sides. Lots of the girls like to go hunting with their husbands, but the thing I find especially endearing are the girls who like to go hunting with their dads, such as my cousin, Jamie Patsie, who was not deterred when her husband Kevin couldn’t go hunting with her. She just talked to her dad, Terry Limmer, and the two of them made a day of it. That is such a cool thing too, because it gave them some father/daughter time.

The little girls in the family maybe can’t go hunting with their dads yet, but that certainly didn’t stop Meadow Nordquist from going out to see what her dad, Aron had shot, and even taking the opportunity to pose for a victory shot with him. She was very excited about her dad’s conquest. I think her sister, Addie was a little put off by the idea of sitting on a dead animal, so she would have none of this whole “picture with her dad’s conquest” thing. I suppose the time will come when she will think differently about that. It may be with her husband, and then her dad though. Time will tell on that, but little Aron & Meadow NordquistMeadow was very excited to see what her dad had shot…and I’m sure they will all enjoy the meat.

Like every other season, hunting has a season, and when that season is over, it’s over. I’m sure it is something everyone hates to have happen…especially if their hunt was not successful, but it is inevitable nevertheless. So, all I can say to that is that it is a good thing that football season is still going on, and basketball season will follow, and baseball after that. Before they know it, hunting season will be upon them again, and they will be back out there looking for the best buck. That’s just the way it is…to everything there is a season.

Football PracticeFirst GameI think if you were to ask him, my nephew, Riley Birky would tell you that there are two things he likes to do most…football and dirt biking….and not necessarily in that order. You don’t have to look very far to find that out. Most of his Facebook posts are pictures of motorcycles, and posts from his friends about how great his team did at the most recent game. So far this year, Riley’s team at CY Middle School is having a very good year. Every post after the game tells of what an amazing team they are. I suppose that if all the guys on his team like football as much as he does, then they get a lot of practice time in. When you love the game, practice is fun…it’s like play, and nobody minds it at all.

Riley’s love for motorcycles probably comes from the same place as most guys who love them. I think it could start as early as their toy cars. Most of them also have toy motorcycles. It seems like they always go together. Add to that the fact that my brother-in-law, Ron loves to ride four wheelers and motorcycles. Riley and his little brother, Tucker are growing up around that, so it’s no wonder that they both love them, And it gives Ron someone to hang out with when he rides too. I’m not so much a big fan of motorcycles myself, but each person has their own ideas, and for Riley, motorcycles are great.

With all the macho stuff Riley likes to do, I think it is a good thing that he had a little brother to play with him too. Riley and Tucker are best buddies. Tucker thinks Riley is the best thing since sliced bread…or at least since candy bars. And if Tucker is having a bad day, Riley is always there to make things better. Add to that the fact that they both enjoy the same things…like their dog, riding on the motorcycle with their dad, and baking cookies with their mom…if they don’t eat all the cookie dough that is. I can’t say that I blame them when it comes to eating cookie dough though, I mean seriously, who wants to wait for them to bake anyway.
Riding with DadMaking Cookies
Riley has changed over the years since he, his mom, brother, and sister joined our family. He has gone from being a little kid to a very grown up young man. Nevertheless, he has never lost the love and companionship he feels for his little brother. Tucker thinks so highly of him, and it would be a real shame if Riley ever decided that Tucker was a pain in the neck. I think that would break Tucker’s heart for sure. Today is Riley’s birthday. It’s very cool that this one fell on a Saturday. Happy birthday Riley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!