Edson: Father’s Day and Sports

With Father’s Day coming up on June 18, I always think back with a smile to the days my Dad and I celebrated that day when I was growing up.

For some reason, Father’s Day always centered around sports. Actually, I know the reason.

He was a great high school and college athlete and later a coach and athletic director. My brother and I were raised around that atmosphere. Lucky for us, our Mom and sisters liked it, too.

We spent many Father’s Days out in our back yard playing baseball. We would ask Dad after we were done to hit ground balls to us or play catch.

We knew he was tired, but he never said no.

We would have some of our greatest conversations on Father’s Day while we played catch. We would ask him about himself and he would try to direct the conversation in another direction.

You see, he served in World War II and the things he saw during his time in the Pacific Theatre was something he never liked talking about.

But before World War II he was a celebrated basketball player. In an old Petoskey News-Review article published in the late 1950s, a columnist talked about the all-time great players from that area. He reeled off 10 names and one of them was my dad’s. I still have that article.

From there, he went on to become the MVP of his college basketball team, from the long-defunct University of Grand Rapids. I never knew about those exploits until I was going through his college yearbooks. When I asked them why he had never told us about that, he simply said, “that’s ancient history.”

So there was one of the most important lessons I learned in my life – you can’t dwell in the past, you have to make your own history day-by-day.

That philosophy went along perfectly with my Mom’s. That is, try to find something every day to look forward to or feel excited about.

And that seemed about right, since both of my parents were teachers. My dad was the coach and my mom taught elementary school, but specialized in English and writing. So to say I was a chip off the old block would be right on.

My folks passed away – after good, long lives – several years ago.

The last thing I said to my Dad as I left his hospital room his final night was, “Goodbye Dad… I love you and I will see you tomorrow.” He smiled and told me he loved me, too.

So every Father’s Day I look back with pride on how lucky I was to have a Dad like that.

Here’s hoping that Father’s Day is special to you, too.

Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.