sports

My grand nephew, Zack Spethman, like all kids these days has been staying home, sheltering in place, and attending homeschool. Zack is a very social person, often making the rounds of people in the room and hugging many of them. It is just Zack’s way. He is a very loving and kind person. Now…in these trying times of social distancing, he isn’t supposed to hug people anymore…seriously!! That is something that makes me sad, because hugging is one of the things that defines who Zack is. I know that somewhere, down the road, things will get back to normal in the world, but even then, we are being discouraged from touching each other. That is especially sad, because when babies are little, we know that the lack of touch can actually cause them to stop growing. People need contact, and I don’t want to see that end. For those of us who are huggers, this is a really hard thing to do.

Zack is a very upbeat kind of guy. He has such a calm way of walking through this world…a kind of peace about things. Nothing ever seems to get him riled up. I suppose his parents might tell me different, because they are around him much more than I am, but the Zack I see is very much at peace with life…and what a great way to be. For me, and most others who know Zack, it is a phenomenal way to be, because he gives us a feeling that everything is going to be ok too.

Zack is the second child of my niece, Jenny Spethman and her husband, Steve. He and his 3 rowdy siblings, keep their parents hopping with all their activities. His peaceful personality, does have it’s “warrior” side too, for lack of a better word. The warrior in him mostly comes out on the football field, the basketball court, and any other sport he likes and is playing. I also suspect that his “warrior” side would come out if someone was hurting his family, or even his friends. He is the kind of guy who doesn’t tolerate bullying of anyone.

Zack’s family has been having some very special times, just being together, even if that means they can’t spend time with extended family members, and that is hard on everyone. Social distancing doesn’t mean they can’t go to the mountains, the lake, or parks…at least not here in Wyoming, so they have been getting out in the fresh air too, and that has kept the cabin fever at bay. For Zack and his siblings, like so many other kids, this school year has been one for the record books, but they will survive and even thrive, as this pandemic passes, and life reopens. Today is Zack’s 15th birthday. Up next…learning to drive. How can that be? Happy birthday Zack!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Every family struggles to find ways to do things together…not to mention the time to do so. Kids have their own activities, such as sports, dance, and other club and school activities. Parents work, kids have school, and then there are things that need to be done around the house. By the time dinner is cooked and eaten, and the table cleared, who feels like doing more activities. Plus, there is homework to be done. It seems like there isn’t time for anything more than a television show before bed.

Most of us think this is just something that has come with modern day families, where they barely have time to eat dinner together…if that. In reality, it is a problem that has been around for a lot longer. Kids just naturally grow up and become more independent, and parents get busier too. Something had to be done, so in 1939, so Charles Steinlauf stepped up. He didn’t build his bicycle for a record, because there wasn’t such a thing then. The Guinness book of records didn’t begin until the early 1950’s. Nevertheless, he was some “inventor” to use the word lightly. His was an interesting bicycle, and apparently it held something for everyone…I guess. As odd as it was, the bicycle really did work. The top rider, namely Charles steered the bicycle with an automobile steering wheel. His wife sat below operating a sewing machine. Their son was in back and their daughter sat on handle bars in front. When they stopped, the legs of the sewing machine kept the two story Goofybike, as it was called, from falling over. I don’t know any other way to safely stop it.

It might have been one of the strangest inventions in history, but, it did get his family out and about in Chicago, Illinois, and I’m certain it also brought them quite a bit of notoriety. I’m sure that there were lots of people who that of Steinlauf as that “weird inventor,” and to be honest, it looks like he just hooked a bunch of odds and ends together. It was, however, a little more technical than that, after all, just hooking a bunch of things together, does not a bicycle make. It has to be able to be ridden in order to really qualify as a bicycle, weird or not. And the Goofybike could be and was ridden by the whole Steinlauf family.

It is a rite of passage…turn 16, get your drivers license. For my grand nephew, Xander Spethman, today is that rite of passage day. Soon he will be able to take himself out on dates and not have to find a ride. He will be able to drive himself to school, and of course, run errands for his parents. I’m not sure how long that will be fun, but most kids like it for a while, because it means they get to drive. Nevertheless, I think that Xander’s younger siblings will reap the benefits of Xander having a driver’s license.

When it comes to school, Xander is all about football…with a little studying on the side. He is a great player, and already has colleges looking at him for recruitment, and offering every type of scholarship imaginable, to meet his every academic desire. Not bad for a kid who is just a freshman in high school. Xander has always been good in sports, and especially in football. He just understands the sport and what he needs to do to be successful in the sport. Last year, Xander went to football camp at Black Hill State University, and really learned a lot. He plans to attend the same camp this year, but he as also been invited to a camp at the Colorado School of Mines for their football camp. They are interested in looking at Xander for recruitment into their football program. It’s an exciting offer for a kid of his young age.

Of course it isn’t the only sport he is good at. Xander, like every member of his family knows how to shoot a gun and how to be safe with one. His dad, Steve takes Xander and brothers Zack and Isaac hunting very year, and this year they also plan to do some fishing. Xander and his family have always been close, and while Xander’s interests are changing, I know that he will always enjoy the “man sports” with his dad and brothers. And of course, Xander is an amazing gentleman to his mom, Jenny and his little sister, Aleesia, and to all women. They always know that the men of the family are there to protect them. Xander is quickly becoming a man, and he is going to do amazing things in his future life. Today is Xander’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday Xander!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When I asked his dad what was new with my grand-nephew, Zack Spethman, the first thing he said was, “He’s tall.” And that is the truth. Zack has literally shot up in height in the past couple of years. It shocks me every time I see him. I pretty much have to stand on my tip toes just to give him a hug. While Zack is the second son of my niece, Jenny Spethman and her husband, Steve, I have a feeling that he might be the tallest person in his family. It’s hard to say, because the boys still have some growing to do, but at this point, Zack is most definitely in the lead.

Zack is such a loving, sweet natured young man, and he is never afraid to show people that he loves them. Many teenagers…especially boys are worried about the hit their “image” might take, if they are seen hugging their mom, dad, or aunts and uncles in public, but Zack doesn’t care about all that. Zack’s sweet nature doesn’t make him a wimp, just the opposite in fact. Zack is great in sports, and a great protector of those he cares about. Zack knows how to shoot a gun, and after passing hunter safety a year or so ago, he is also a great hunter. Zack and his brothers, Xander and Isaac, love to do the same things their dad is doing. From guns to snowmobiles to swimming to hiking, they are all in!!

Of course, these boys aren’t too proud to play with their little sister, Aleesia, and help he with anything she needs. They treat her like a princess, and she loves each and every one of them. Zack is also a perfect gentleman at school, and his teachers all think the world of him. He is never on to get into trouble, and rather is the first one to offer assistance whenever it is needed. He makes his parents, and the rest of the family, very proud of him, and I know that he will continue to turn into a wonderful young man. Today is Zack’s 14th birthday. Happy birthday Zack!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Liz Masterson is a gifted teacher of high school journalism. She is also a gifted photographer. I suppose the two things go together in many ways, but I don’t know if most journalists are also gifted photographers. This dual career that Liz has keeps her very busy. If she is not grading papers, she is taking pictures of the sporting events at the school for the annual and the Kelly Kall. During the school year, she has very little time to do much else.

Nevertheless, on Thursday nights, Liz; her mom, my sister, Cheryl Masterson; Liz’s niece, Aleesia Spethman; and I go to dinner. We try to go different places, so that we don’t get bored, but the reality is that we just enjoy spending time together. Liz has many interests, and we enjoy hearing about the challenging subjects she addresses with her students. I think they do too, because most of her students become her lifelong friends. I think very few teachers can say that. Most teachers prepare their students for graduation and the next step in their lives, and then they slowly fade into the student’s past. Liz is very different. Her students don’t want her to fade into the past. They want to always be able to share the great things they do in life with their favorite teacher.

In her off-time, Liz is a mommy to her fur babies. Her puppies, Luka, Scout, and Buffy; and her cat, Professor McGonagall…usually known as Kitty. Liz loves her fur babies, and feels bad that she has to leave them during the day to go to work, so if she ends up working at night, as teachers often do, her puppies get to go to the grandma, Cheryl’s house to play with her puppy, Missy. It’s almost comical to me, because I’m not used to seeing puppies need a babysitter for an evening, but these are Liz’s fur babies, and she wants the best for them. And what baby doesn’t want to spend time with their grandma when their mommy can’t be home to play. When Liz is home, she and her fur babies have the best times playing together. Today is Liz’s birthday. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Nick Olsen became my grandnephew when he married my grandniece, Siara this past summer. Nick is perfect for Siara. They love to laugh, and they are always doing funny things. Nick loves to make people laugh, and he has a funny, sarcastic way to do just that. That is something I like. I find comedic sarcasm to be extremely fun, and I like when people are able to laugh at themselves. That describes Nick perfectly. He’s usually up for whatever goofy things Siara wants to do. I think his joking ways were probably in large part one of the things that attracted Siara to him in the first place.

Nick is a hard working man, who takes good care of his wife, and will someday make a great dad, I’m sure. He came from a big family, with 6 siblings, and he loves his mom very much. I’m sure he will want to have his own family. Nick and Siara already have two fur babies, Forest and Emma…their cats. Siara tells me that Nick is obsessed with Emma, and she’s not too sure he doesn’t love the cat more than he does her, but I don’t think so. Nick can fix just about anything, and so he keeps things in their house in good repair. He also likes to “surprise” Siara with a very clean house when she gets home from work. Now that makes him a pretty rare sort of a guy, and a keeper for sure.

Nick and Siara’s dad, Dave Balcerzak have bonded quite well over sports, as well as everything else. They really enjoy getting together to watch the football games. Nick’s favorite team is the Seahawks, but Siara and Dave’s is the Steelers. I’m not sure how that works while watching the games, but they seem to be able to deal with their differences, and the games they spend time watching together are mutually fun for everyone…unless the two teams are playing against each other, that is…then it’s probably war!! Even if they were playing against each other, I’m sure that there would be some good natured ribbing, especially from the winner, but they would still be good friends, and that’s great, because Siara loves her daddy and her hubby, and she loves that they get along so well. Today is Nick’s birthday. Happy birthday Nick!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For my nephew, Dave Chase, each year is defined by the sports that have taken place, and the games he has been to. Whether Dave is watching sports or participating in them, it’s all about sports. Dave is kind of a complex guy. He is very family oriented, and wants his family to lead happy and fulfilled lives, but he is very much a guy, and that means that while his wife, my niece, Toni has a wide variety of interests, and he sees her personality in their home and all she has done with it, but when it comes to what Toni is doing at any given time, Dave’s mind starts zoning out to…you guessed it…sports. I think that the girly things Toni likes, while making their home wonderful, comfortable, and homey, are things that Dave can’t really wrap his head around, because…well, they don’t have anything to do with sports. About Toni’s activities, Dave says, “I’m a male. I don’t remember what Toni has been doing for the last week, let alone the last year. I am not good at details. I just have an analytical engineering mind.” Every time I read that it makes me giggle. It is just so typically Dave, and I find it hilarious to say the least.

It was a good year in sports for Dave’s competitive teams. His co-ed softball team placed first in Division A, his basketball team went undefeated for the season and they are now competing for first place. For Dave it is the thrill of the competition, and that doesn’t just mean in physical sports. Dave has been playing Cribbage most of his life. His dad taught him how, and continues to be the one person Dave can’t beat. In the last three cribbage tournaments that Dave’s been in he placed 3rd, 2nd, and 1st, in that order.

Dave isn’t picky about what level the sports are in either. His favorite college team is, of course, the Wyoming Cowboys. As any Wyoming fan knows, they did pretty well in 2017, and they are doing excellent at basketball as well, except for the fact that they lost today…darn it!! Nevertheless, for Dave the best way to spend a birthday is at a game, which is where he was today. I just wish it had been a better game for his birthday. A couple of weeks ago, Dave managed to be in the right place at the right time to get caught on television at a Wyoming game. While that may not make him a celebrity, it’s cool to be spotted at the game, courtesy of the news.

Outside of Wyoming, Dave is a huge Dodgers, Lakers and Kings fan. The Dodgers did awesome in baseball this year, even though they didn’t win the pennant. It’s hard to say how the Kings are doing this year, because it’s too early to tell yet, but Dave says that the Lakers have been struggling for a while, but a true fan never gives up on their team…right. And the Rams…now that they’re back in LA…are Dave’s new football team…even if 2017 wasn’t their year. And Unlike Dave, who has no idea what is going on in Toni’s world, Toni has been watching his, and she is very much in the know about every team Dave likes. Way to go Toni!! As Toni said, “All I know it’s been a great year in sports for Dave, and definitely a year where his talents got better with age.” Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

If you could see all of Terry Sawchuk’s wounds at once, his face would look like this one that was reproduced with makeup. In reality, Terry’s wounds have healed over the years, and the scars are not nearly as visible as the makeup reproduction portrays. Nevertheless, Sawchuk’s 16 years of playing goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team in the years before the goalies wore safety equipment left their marks and took their toll on his body. Re-created here, by a professional make-up artist and a doctor, are some of the more than 400 stitches he had earned during 16 years in the National Hockey League. Terry Sawchuk’s face was bashed over and over, but not all at one time. The re-creation of his injuries was done to help show the extent of his injuries over a span of years. Sawchuk had sustained other injuries that were not shown here too…a slashed eyeball requiring three stitches, a 70% loss of function in his right arm because 60 bone chips were removed from his elbow, and a permanent “sway-back” that was caused by a continual bent-over posture during the games.

Many people were hurt playing sports in the years before safety equipment was used. For some of them, like Sawchuk, the equipment would not come in time to spare them from years of pain, and even disabilities. It was a sad reality of many sports that everyone loves. The first goalie’s mask was a metal fencing mask donned in February 1927 by Queen’s University netminder Elizabeth Graham, mainly to protect her teeth. In 1930, the first crude leather model of the mask, which was actually an American football “nose-guard” was worn by Clint Benedict to protect his broken nose. After recovering from the injury, he abandoned the mask, never wearing one again in his career. At the 1936 Winter Olympics, Teiji Honma wore a crude mask, similar to the one worn by baseball catchers. The mask was made of leather, and had a wire cage which protected the face, as well as Honma’s large circular glasses.

Finally, in 1959 goalies began wearing masks full-time. On November 1, 1959, in a game between the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers of the National Hockey League, Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante was struck in the face by a shot from Andy Bathgate. He had previously worn a face mask in practice, but coach Toe Blake refused to allow him to wear it in a game. He thought it might inhibit his vision. After being stitched up, Plante gave Blake an ultimatum. He refused to go back out onto the ice without the mask. Blake agreed, not wanting to forfeit the game, because NHL teams did not have back-up goalies at the time. Plante went on a long unbeaten streak wearing the mask. That ended when he was asked to remove it for a game. After that particular loss, Plante resumed donning the mask for the remainder of his career. Plante was ridiculed when he introduced the mask into the game. People questioned his dedication and bravery. In response, Plante made an analogy to a person skydiving without a parachute. Although Plante faced some teasing, the face-hugging fiberglass goalie’s mask soon became the standard. Since the invention of the fiberglass hockey mask, professional goalies no longer play without a mask. The last goalie to play without a mask was Andy Brown, who played his last NHL game in 1974. He would then go to the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA and play without a mask till his retirement in 1977. So much has been learned about playing without protective gear since those days, but for the people who played before all that information, it came at a heavy price.

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!!

As a boy, my grand nephew, Keifer Balcerzak was totally his daddy’s boy. He and my nephew, Dave Balcerzak were and still are very much alike. They like the same things…mostly sports, but they also have the same temperament, sense of humor, and to a large degree, personality. They have always loved to hang out and do things together, especially watching sports. Theirs was a wonderful daddy/son relationship. Of course, nothing stays the same, and all kids grow up and start to lead their own lives, but that doesn’t mean that the daddy/son relationship must end, and for Keifer and his dad, it certainly has not ended. Now that Dave has a “man cave,” Keifer and Dave watch the games there.

Keifer is married now, and is going to become a daddy in February, so I don’t know how that will change things, as far as the sporting events he watches with his dad, but I suppose that if Keifer and Katie were to have a boy, he could just start him out right by making it a daddy/son/grandpa relationship. It makes sense. If Keifer took the baby with him, Katie could have a nice quiet afternoon to relax, because as we all know, babies are a lot of work, and it often falls to the mom, who often stays home with the baby. Just giving you a suggestion there, Keifer. I think that Keifer will be a dad like his own dad is, and that means that this little baby is going to be very blessed. Keifer has a kind and loving heart, and he has grown up with a great example of just what a dad should be like, so he will translate that into being the best dad he can be.

Keifer is a lot like his dad in his work ethic and abilities. Both of them are computer techicians, and both work for the State of Wyoming. They are great at what they do, and they stay very busy, because as we all know, in this age of computers, technicians are a vital part of keeping information safe and yet accessible. Not everyone has the ability to repair computers, or even fix the many issues they can have…all while making sure that they stay safely protected from the many hackers out there these days. Keifer is going to have a long and prosperous career in computer technology. Today is Keifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Keifer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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