Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 7, 2016

Graduations bring back memories of years gone by

By Brooks Taylor

By BROOKS TAYLOR

Mt. Pleasant News

‘Tis the time for Mother’s Day and graduation. That means I am supposed to include something profound about graduation and Mother’s Day here. Don’t bet on it, the creative energy is at low tide.

My daughter graduates from college tonight. Although I have no official confirmation on my hunch, I think she is more relieved than excited.

School and Brooke never did mesh. I have my ideas on why it didn’t but some things are best kept to yourself. She ranked among the top five in basketball career scoring and rebounding when she graduated from high school and had scholarships from colleges ranging from NAIA to NCAA-Division II.

She politely (maybe not politely, ignored might be a better term) declined all offers because basketball had lost its appeal. I often question whether she was burned out. She played a lot of basketball in seven years, including the USA Junior Nationals and on the Iowa Future Stars Select team during two summers in high school.

I coached her from fifth through eighth grade and perhaps was too aggressive with scheduling. In addition to the normal school schedule, she played 30-40 games in tournament team ball.

Reflecting back on it, it may have been too aggressive. When I was her age, I loved playing any sport — the more games the better. But that was before cell phones, the Internet, video games and the social activities offered to kids today.

Maybe I wanted it worse than she did. As a parent, that is difficult to admit, but it is something I have seen in many parents. While encouraging your children is the responsibility of a parent, pushing them hard into something they do not enjoy as much as you leads to counter-productivity.

Deep down, I think Brooke did want to play basketball longer. She told me as much during her first year away from the sport. Had it not been for a disappointing senior season, she probably would have. Prior to her senior season, an area high school (Pomeroy-Palmer) started sharing sports with Pocahontas. She had new teammates and a new coach.

Despite the spin townspeople attempted to put on it, it was not a smooth transition. “We hate them and they hate us,” was how one girl summed it up, referring to the other school. At games, you would see the Poky students sitting in one group and the Pomeroy-Palmer students in another group, generally separated by 30 feet.

Although Brooke’s season stats were solid, I could see that she was not enjoying the sport. It was obvious that she was harboring some anger. She and the coach never were on the same page and, according to her, promises made to her by the coach were not kept. But I think there was more to it.

I haven’t asked and she hasn’t said lately whether she still misses the game. I would assume she might when she sees her younger sister play, but maybe not.

While I would have enjoyed her career extended by four years, the four years would have elapsed and the shoes tucked away now. Such is life, there are other things and to some basketball is not life.

Oh yes, I am supposed to be writing about graduation and Mother’s Day. Graduation speeches are never remembered anyway and since my mother has long passed, I tend to forget about it.

But I will give all graduates some advice and limit to a single sentence — don’t forget where you came from.

Hometown pride. Nearly forgot this item — arguably the biggest news to hit Parkston, S.D., in years. When Iowa Hawkeye offensive tackle Riley Reif was taken in the first round of the NFL draft last week, it set off a celebration in my hometown, which also is Reif’s hometown.

In fact, Reif was at his parents home in Parkston when he was drafted. I saw a few minutes of video from one of the town’s watering holes. It looked like they were having a good time, noticed a Hawkeye flag on the wall but did not recognize any of the celebrants.

Reif not only became the first person from my hometown to play Division I in any sport, he is the first to be drafted by a professional team.

Decades ago, Reif’s dad was one of the regulars at my house in Yankton, S.D. to watch Monday Night Football. Those days are now a blur. Come to think of it, they were a blur back then, too.