football

My niece, Siara Harman is one of many girls who were cheerleaders in high school and college. She even won a State Championship and a Grand National Championship with the Kelly Walsh Cheer Squad in 2011. Since it’s beginnings, cheerleading has come a long way. In fact, I doubt if today’s cheerleaders would recognize their earlier counterparts, if they saw them back then. Siara was a skilled cheerleader, and very athletic, and we are all proud of her cheerleading years.

The roots of American cheerleading are closely tied to American football’s roots. The first intercollegiate football game was played on November 6, 1869, between Princeton University and Rutgers University in New Jersey. By the 1880s, Princeton had formed an pep club. Organized cheering started as an all-male activity, as many sports do. As early as 1877, Princeton University had a Princeton Cheer. Basically, it was a fight song that was documented in the February 22, 1877; March 12, 1880; and November 4, 1881, issues of The Daily Princetonian. This cheer was yelled from the stands by students attending games, as well as by the athletes themselves. The cheer, “Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Tiger! S-s-s-t! Boom! A-h-h-h!” remains in use with slight modifications today, where it is now referred to as the Locomotive. Princeton class of 1882 graduate Thomas Peebles moved to Minnesota in 1884. He took with him the idea of organized crowds cheering at football games to the University of Minnesota. The term “Cheer Leader” had been used as early as 1897, with Princeton’s football officials having named three students as Cheer Leaders: Thomas, Easton, and Guerin from Princeton’s classes of 1897, 1898, and 1899, respectively, on October 26, 1897. These students would cheer for the team also at football practices, and special cheering sections were designated in the stands for the games themselves for both the home and visiting teams. On November 2, 1898, the University of Minnesota was on a losing streak. A medical student named Johnny Campbell assembled a group to energize the team and the crowd. Johnny picked up a megaphone and rallied the team to victory with the first organized cheer: “Rah, Rah, Rah! Ski-U-Mah! Hoo-Rah! Hoo-Rah! Varsity! Varsity! Minn-e-so-tah!” With that action, Campbell became the first cheerleader in America. Soon after, the University of Minnesota organized a “yell leader” squad of six male students, who still use Campbell’s original cheer today. In 1903, the first cheerleading fraternity, Gamma Sigma, was founded.

In 1923, at the University of Minnesota, women were finally permitted to participate in cheerleading. However, it took time for other schools to follow. In the late 1920s, many school manuals and newspapers that were published still referred to cheerleaders as chap, fellow, and man. Women cheerleaders were overlooked until the 1940s, when collegiate men were drafted for World War II, creating the opportunity for more women to make their way onto sporting event sidelines. As noted by Kieran Scott in Ultimate Cheerleading: “Girls really took over for the first time.” A report written on behalf of cheerleading in 1955 explained that in larger schools, “occasionally boys, as well as, girls are included,” and in smaller schools, “boys can usually find their place in the athletic program, and cheerleading is likely to remain solely a feminine occupation.” During the 1950s, cheerleading in America also increased in popularity. By the 1960s, some began to consider cheerleading too feminine an extracurricular activity for boys, and by the 1970s, girls primarily cheered at public school games. However, this did not stop its growth. Cheerleading could be found at almost every school level across the country, even youth leagues. In 1975, it was estimated by a man named Randy Neil that over 500,000 students actively participated in American cheerleading from grade school to the collegiate level. He also approximated that 95% of cheerleaders within America were female. Since 1973, cheerleaders have started to attend female basketball and other all-female sports as well. As of 2005, overall statistics show around 97% of all modern cheerleading participants are female, although at the collegiate level, cheerleading is co-ed with about 50% of participants being male.

My nephew, Ryan Hadlock reminds me more and more of his dad, Chris Hadlock, everyday. He looks like him, talks like him, and acts like him. They also enjoy many of the same things, like sports, especially football and the Broncos. In fact, they are heading to Denver this weekend for a game. Ryan also loves camping, music, and most of all family. Ryan and his wife, Chelsea, who have been married nine years now, are raising two sweet children, Ethan and Aurora.

Recently, Ryan and his family went with Chelsea’s family to Disney World in Florida, where they had a wonderful time. The kids got to meet all the Disney characters, and ride all the great rides. Really, they are at the perfect age for a Disney World adventure…young enough to love the kid stuff and old enough to remember the trip. A wonderful time was had by all, because after all, there is a bit of a kid in all of us, especially Ryan, who will never really grow up, but then I guess that’s what makes him such a fun guy.

Ryan is a hard worker, and often picks up extra shifts at his job at Fleur de Lis, which used to be Anadarko, until they sold it to FDL, as its called. FDL is an oilfield company, and since things are picking up some, they are pretty busy. Ryan is also becoming quite a Do It Yourself guy. Recently, he fixed the central air in their home by himself, and most of us would have no idea what to do with that. Nevertheless, Ryan figured it out and saved his family from the summer heat and saved money too.

It has been a busy year for Ryan and his family, but as far as I’m concerned, the coolest thing that is going on with them is that Ryan is forming a family band. The plan is for Ryan to play the guitar. Ryan learned from his dad, and both are very good. Ethan will be playing the drums. Aurora hasn’t decided what instrument she wants to play in her dad’s band, but I’m sure she will pick something very cool. And the plan is to have Chelsea sing. I think this could be a wonderful musical family. Maybe they could be the Hadlock Family Band. I would definitely attend a performance, if they had one that was open to the public. Today is Ryan’s birthday. Happy birthday Ryan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Whether we like it or not, all little boys, and girls too, grow up way too fast. My nephew, Riley Birky is no exception. As a little boy, Riley loved to give hugs…especially to his mama. My sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg tells me that he is still the best hugger she knows. You know the kind…they squeeze you tightly and their love for you just flows out of them and into your heart. Funny thing about those good huggers is that they never seem to get tired of hugging those they love…not even during the awkward teenaged years, when many kids are embarrassed by their parents, because they just aren’t cool. It isn’t that their parents aren’t cool…at home. It’s just that when they are with their friends…well, parents can say stuff that is just not cool…like I love you, or something. Of course, you want them to love you, just please don’t say it in front of the guys. Nevertheless, Riley was a boy who loved his mama, and he didn’t mind letting her know it.

Younger siblings can be a different kind of problem They always want to hang around, and they can be so nerdy. A cool guy can’t have his kid brother hanging around…or can he. Riley loves playing with his little brother, Tucker. He doesn’t seem to mind if Tucker is acting goofy, because…well, that’s just Tucker, and that’s ok. Riley feels very blessed to have a little brother, and they spend time together as much as possible. As a little boy, there were four things Riley loved, his mama, his little brother, his big sister, Cassie, and his bear, Fluffy. Family, you never outgrow, but toys are a different thing. Still, some toys are extra special, and you tend to keep them for life. Fluffy was just such a toy. He was like a best friend, who never left your side. While Riley doesn’t still play with Fluffy, he does still have Fluffy and probably always will. Who knows, maybe someday Fluffy can be handed down to Riley’s own child.

Riley loves playing football, and really everything about football, which is very common for boys. Sports becomes their way of life pretty early on in life. With the schools offering the opportunity and all their friends playing, it is just the natural thing for kids to do. Riley doesn’t really care about the other sports much, and other than football, would rather ride his bicycle. Like most boys, I’m sure he can do a number of tricks on his bicycle…and if not, I’ll bet that at the very least, he can pop wheelies, because I think every boy tries that one. And last, but certainly not least…there is Lilly. Lilly is the family dog, and she absolutely loves Riley, and he absolutely loves her too. Whenever Riley is at home, Lilly is by his side. Riley has such a loving, gentle way with Lilly. Dogs can just tell when they are loved, and when they are loved, they love back, with their whole being. Lilly would do anything to protect Riley, and Riley would do the same. This dog truly is this man’s best friend. Today is Riley’s 17th birthday. The little boy is gone, and in his place stands a young man with a very bright future ahead of him. Happy birthday Riley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Steve Spethman is a great husband and dad. I have known Steve since he was twelve, and like most kids, he was carefree and a little mischievous. Nevertheless, he has grown into such a great man. Steve’s top priority is his family. He is very active in the activities of his three boys and his daughter. Steve loves guns. He wants his kids and his wife, Jenny to know how to defend themselves, and he also loves to hunt, so he wants the kids to be able to hunt too, as they come of age, so he has trained them on every aspect of gun use and safety. Of course, they have to take the hunter safety classes too, but the two older boys have passed with ease. I know that his younger two children will do so too. Steve is an excellent marksman and is willing to help anyone with their shooting ability. I have been blessed to have him show me some things to help me shoot better, so I know that he is patient, and qualified. Now, I just need to go with him again to practice, hahaha!!

Steve is a hard working man, and even takes on extra work to help out family and friends, and to earn a little extra money. He does excellent carpentry work, and has helped .y sister, Caryl Reed and her husband, Mike to build the home they have been working on at their ranchette near Casper. The work Steve has done there is beautiful, and I know that Mike has been grateful for his help. He is currently working on so renovations at the family home, and while Jenny is dreading the mess, she is really looking forward to the nice new kitchen she will have when all the renovations are done. I can’t wait to see the results. I know their kitchen will be just beautiful!!

Steve is very active. He loves to ride his motorcycle with his wife, Jenny. They really enjoy the summer months. If they aren’t riding the motorcycle, the might be taking their kids to the lake to swim, or on the mountain for a picnic. Winter finds them on the mountain on their 4 wheelers, but summer is their favorite season. Jenny and Steve love to be outside playing with their kids and enjoying the great weather. This year they had such a great summer, that they all hate to see it end, but fall brings football, and that’s ok too. Today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday Steve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Shannon Moore, who is married to my niece Lindsay, is the Special Teams Coordinator and Tight Ends coach at East Carolina University…Home of the Pirates. Shannon is totally in his element as a coach, having come from the Wyoming Cavalry team, where he and Lindsay met; to Brookings, South Dakota; to Miami, Florida; to Greenville, North Carolina, where he is today. Every move he has made has been a move up in status. For Shannon, Greenville is a personal favorite place. The town is a real football town, and game day is lots of fun. As the coach, it’s like a big celebration, and he gets to be right there in the middle of it all. Shannon thrives on all things football, and I’m quite sure all of the other sports as well.

The cool thing for Shannon and Lindsay is the fact that he has the summers off. They have been spending the summer taking trips here and there. This year, they did a tour of the Northeast. The trip started out in Niagara Falls for Independence Day. Now, I think that would be a very cool place to be for the holiday. Shannon and Lindsay rode on the Maid of the Mist ferry boat to the base of the falls, which is an amazing ride. From Niagara Falls, their trip took them to Portland, Maine. Then they went to New Hampshire and Massachusetts, where they went to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The next leg of their trip took them to Vermont for a nice dinner. And what tour of the Northeast would be complete without a trip to New York City. They went to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis island, and the Brooklyn bridge, as well as taking in a Yankees game. They had been there before, but it was right after Hurricane Sandy, so they were unable to go to those places. They also toured the sites for Seinfeld and You’ve Got Mail. Lindsay tells me that it was “waaaay fun!!” The next leg of their trip was a ride on the Amtrak to Philadelphia to see a Phillies Game, the Liberty Bell and the Rocky Statue. Finally they took the Amtrak back to North Carolina. Their grand tour of the Northeast took them on a plane, train, automobile, and ferry. Lindsay and Shannon have set a goal to see all 50 states. In the Northeast, they have seven states left. They only check off the states, when both of them have been to the state.

As if the summer hasn’t been busy enough, Shannon has also been keeping himself busy with golfing and yard work. They will try to get to the beach a few times before fall, and they did make a trip back home to Wyoming for a visit, stopping to see Shannon’s folks too along the way. I think it’s been a long time since they have driven back to Wyoming. Lindsay was kind of amazed that it took three days to drive home. In the fall, it will be back too football training again. Lindsay is so cute. Every time I ask her for information, she always adds one little thing, this time she said, “Oh yeah AND I know I am biased but man…he is the best husband ever and the nicest person ever!! Such a kind and generous person!!” I love to see that!! Today is Shannon’s birthday. Happy birthday Shannon!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, Xander Spethman is growing up so fast. It seems like yesterday that he was a little boy, and now I see a tall young man of 14 years. He has grown so tall and strong that I find myself having to do a double take to make sure it is Xander that I’m looking at…in fact, I recently saw him on the trail my husband and I walk on, and almost didn’t recognize him at all…and talking to him doesn’t help either, because his voice is suddenly pretty deep. I’m sure his years of doing sports have contributed to his new physique, and the fact that his dad, Steve Spethman is a man with big shoulders had a lot to do with it too, I’m sure. It could be Xander’s size that makes his a great protector of those who are being bullied, but I don’t really think it is. I think that being a protector is just part of Xander’s nature. He is kind and compassionate, and he doesn’t like to see anyone getting their feelings hurt, or being hurt physically…other than maybe the payers on the opposing team in football, and even then, he would not really want to hurt them…just take them down.

Xander is a great marksman in his own right, having been trained by his dad and mom to shoot guns at a young age. He has a good respect for human life, and gun safety. He knows what can happen if a person gets careless, and is determined not to be a person who is careless. He is very proud this year, in that he earned the money for and bought his own hunting rifle. Not bad for a 13 year old kid. He likes the feeling of accomplishment her gets from doing things on his own, but that doesn’t mean that his parents don’t mean the world to him…rather, just that they have trained him well to be independent…an part of good parenting. nevertheless, his mom, Jenny Spethman will always consider him her baby boy…as any mother would do.

As with many teenagers, Xander is spending this year wearing braces. I’m not sure how he feels about that, but I don’t know many teenagers that like it much. Still, when the time for braces is over, most of them are very happy with their new smile. Xander is a pretty easy going guy, and doesn’t let too many things bother him very much, so I suspect that he is ok with it, and given his size, who would dare to pick on him about it anyway. Today is Xander’s 14th birthday. Xander, we are all very proud of the young man you have become. Happy birthday Xander!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

isaac-leeisaac-footballMy grand nephew, Isaac Spethman is the youngest boy in his family, and the youngest big brother to his little sister, Aleesia. Sometimes that is a good thing, but sometimes, they fight like cats and dogs. Nevertheless, they are close, and the little tiffs are few. For the most part, Isaac and his siblings, Xander, Zack, and Aleesia get along great. Isaac and his brothers are doing a great job of turning serious girly girl, Aleesia into a bit of a tomboy too.

The Spethman family is a sporting family. The boys all play football, and they even have their own little cheerleader. The boys may be very rough and tumble football players, but when it comes to their sister…well don’t mess with her. Isaac and his brothers love to run scrimmages out in the front yard. Of course, they love to play lots of games in the front yard, like war games, wrestling matches, or snowball fights. Isaac and his brothers are definitely boys.

Isaac loves guns too, as do his brothers and his parents, Steve and Jenny. Of course, the kids all are learning about guns, and gun safety, but whenever he has the chance, Isaac likes to play gun slinger. He likes to be the robber who holds up his little sister, of have gun fights with his brothers. Isaac is a busy kid with many interests, most of them the same a his brothers. I suppose that comes from being the youngest boy in the bunch. Most younger siblings look up to their older siblings, whether they like to admit it or not.

Isaac is often a quiet kid, but maybe that is just when he is around people he doesn’t know well. Or maybe it is just when he is around adults. He certainly isn’t quiet on Thursday nights when he gets together with his and-a-cheerleaderfootball-boyscousins, Matthew and Anna. His cousin Raelynn doesn’t play very much, but when Matt, Anna, Xander, Zack, Isaac, and Aleesia get together, things are going to get rowdy. Now their parents and grandma, really don’t always appreciate that, and there is the invariable injury somewhere in the mix, but the kids are usually having a pretty great time…they just don’t do it as quietly as their parents would prefer. Such is life. Today Isaac turn ten years old. Happy 10th birthday Isaac!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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!!