Before continuing with our “Meet the staff” series, there there is actual K-State sports news worth mentioning.
K-State Sports News
First, although Drew Schneider already advised us way back on March 5th based on sources from Syracuse athletics sites that Steve Stanard will be the new linebackers coach for the Wildcats, the athletic department has now confirmed the news.
Gene Taylor addressed issues associated with the cancellation of winter championships and spring sports seasons in a short video “Ask the AD” segment.
And, finally, if you like to watch live feeds of heavy equipment and construction workers, a webcam focused on the south endzone project will let you do just that.
Finally, WIBW ran a nice feature spot on Peyton Williams and the strange way her career came to an end with the discontinuation of college sports. Lots of careers did not get the endings they deserved.
This evening we will take our first run at a nostalgic K-State watch party, complete with running game thread. We’ll start with the 2003 “Ambush at Arrowhead” game, in which our Wildcats demolished No. 1 Oklahoma for the Big 12 title. Look for the game thread around 6:00 CDT. The goal will be to start watching at 7:00. There is little chance we’ll all be in sync, and we may even crash the site. But we’re going to try it, anyway. If nothing else, we’ll get to remind ourselves how great it was to watch our old buddies Sproles, Buhl, Sims and the gang wreck the supposed greatest college football squad of all time.
Now, on to the awkward self-introduction.
This week, the Bring on the Cats staff will be telling you what they’re doing with all this free time they suddenly have (and, of course, providing any relevant news if there is any). You may not be interested in a given writer’s focus, and that’s okay! For those of you who are, however, maybe you’ll find something with which to occupy your own sudden and copious abundance of free time.
First off, I don’t suddenly find myself blessed with more free time. I am one of five lawyers who represent all of the public school districts in Kansas, as well as many of the state’s community and technical colleges. The events of the past few weeks have presented myriad new challenges and will continue to do so as our schools adapt to ever-shifting guidelines and expectations brought about by efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19. Our job is to help guide Kansas public schools through the legal demands and pitfalls presented by this fluid situation. It has not been easy.
I hope that the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year is not lost forever. Right now, I don’t think anyone knows whether a few weeks or a few months will be sufficient to turn the tide of Covid-19 spread. Though the words we have heard so often from Washington, D.C. over the past many months sound like passing the non-committal buck, in this case they are actually apt: We’ll see what happens.
Once the school shutdown sets in and people acclimate to the new abnormal, I expect my phone will stop ringing so frequently and, after catching up on a few lagging projects, I may find myself looking for things to do. Unlike Benevolent Despot Jon Morse, I am not a gamer. I once played video games with my sons (I could make my youngest throw a fit over Mario Cart and Super Smash Bros), but when they began laughing and calling me “target practice” in Halo 2, I bowed out. I played a few individual games on my phone, but at the New Year I deleted all of them and committed to spending time on what I hope will be more beneficial endeavors.
I have read at least half a dozen books since then, ranging from historical fiction (The Last Kingdom, Bernard Cornwell) to investigative biography (Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer) to historical survey (A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn) to current events, which I’ll refrain from naming since we try to avoid political argument here. Reading is mostly for after dark. But it’s amazing how much more time I have for it when I’m not shoving my nose in a phone screen all evening long.
I look forward to getting outdoors. My mind is never really right unless I have a project to do under the sky. For the past three-plus years, I’ve lived at the top of a picturesque hill on 40 acres in Jefferson County. The land tapers down nearly half a mile of terraced alfalfa field and terminates in a woodline of oaks, hickories and locusts fringed by thick stand of honeysuckle. When the weather warms up for good and the mud finally crusts over, I’ll have plenty of outdoor work to occupy my quarantine. First, I’ll spend time with the chainsaw cutting away winter deadfall and eradicating as many juvenile locust trees as I can before they grow big and lethal.
I bought a tractor when we moved here (my sons call it a glorified lawnmower, but it’s a diesel with front loader and 3-point capacity, and they’re a couple of 20-something brats who can just shut up), and last week I bought a tiller for it that I’ve been itching to use. I hope to level the parts of my lawn that make me want to murder a certain landscaping contractor every time the mower threatens to buck me off. I might also plant a big enough garden that the deer and raccoons can’t possibly eat all the sweet corn before I get some for myself. A herd of seven whitetails was out back last night, leaping over the flooded terraces and inspecting the muddy garden site. They’ve gotten cocky since nobody managed to shoot any of them here last year.
I also hope to play some golf, though my enthusiasm for the game has lagged as I’ve lost distance to old age and any semblance of consistency to limited practice time and poor habits. Still, I hit enough shots that ring Tin Cup’s proverbial tuning fork to keep me going back. I once played nine holes in five-under. I’ve been chasing a repeat of that round ever since. But it’s starting to be a nearly imperceptible speck on a darkening horizon.
While I’m stuck indoors, I have been pulling out the guitar on the regular. I’ve learned “Hallelujah” and “Good Riddance (The Time of your Life)” recently, and I’m working on the acoustic riffs in “Ventura Highway.” I also have a keyboard, and I’m struggling to rediscover any remnant of benefit from the seven years of piano lessons my parents purchased when I was a kid. Quarterbacks would envy my hands (10.5 inches from thumb-tip to pinky-tip), and my piano teacher used to lament that concert pianists would, as well. I told her I didn’t want to be a concert pianist; I wanted to play Ragtime. The impasse, I’m afraid, resulted in me not being able to play much, at all. I’m trying now. Sure wish I’d tried harder then.
My youngest brother and my sister-in-law inspired me to get in shape to run the Snyder Highway Half-marathon in May. I bet that gets canceled, along with everything else any of us planned in advance between March and June. Might be a blessing; I’m nowhere near on pace to be ready. But I do amuse the neighbors by lugging my heavy, old carcass up and down the hills on the country roads east of K-4 highway. So, for them I guess the effort is worth it.
The most goal-based use of my spare time is devoted to writing. Over twenty years ago I wrote a novel and even had an agent for it. In retrospect, the book wasn’t good enough to be published, and the agent was likely a scam artist. But I learned from the experience. I’ve been kicking around an idea for a new book and wrote the first 5,000 words or so five years ago. I’m now obsessed with it. I’ve imposed a 1,500-word daily minimum and am on pace to finish the first draft by the end of April. I have reached a point where the thought of skipping a day is unfathomable; those characters’ lives hang in interminable limbo until I complete them. It’s a responsibility. I can’t let them down.
So, my beloved 13-year-old golden retriever snores under the drafting desk while I chase that long-delayed literary dream. Selling any book is a long-shot, I know. That is a goal, but it’s not the goal. I only want to honor the story with my effort. Even if publishing professionals scoff at me, I won’t consider the time wasted. I have created a world and its inhabitants. I have set them in motion, and I alone control what becomes of them. If nothing else, it’s a nice reminder that even in times like these, we all control at least a meaningful sliver of our real world, even if external forces nudge (or shove) us down unexpected paths.
Question for the day: What are your creative outlets?