Friday, December 29, 2006

Maryland 24 Purdue 7

The score will show that Maryland won the 2006 Champs Sports Bowl 24-7 over Purdue. The Terps, coming off back to back 5-6 seasons, finished 2006 at 9-4. For Head Coach Ralph Friedgen, this was his 50th win. Earlier this month I wrote about Donnie Woods decision to skip his senior season and join the Army. Today I want to write about another favorite player of mine, Quarterback Sam Hollenbach.

Tonight he played a smart, gutsy game, shook off a couple vicious hits early and gutted it out to lead the Terps to a victory and a trophy in his final game. However, it almost didn't happen. In 2004 he was listed as 4th on the Terps QB depth chart and thought about transferring to another school. In that season's final regular season game, he was awarded the start against Wake Forest and led the Terps to a victory.

He wasn't guaranteed a starting job in 2005 and instead of transferring out, he decided to stay and fight for the startng QB job. He won it and basically learned on the job in 2005 while the Terps struggled to a 5-6 season. This season he was more comfortable at the position. Sure, he had his ups and downs but he showed poise and got the most out of his talent while displaying great leadership skills for the Terps. Oh yeah, on top of that, he's on schedule to earn a degree in Engineering this Spring. Just a great Terp who represented the university well.

After the Terps-Florida State game I was lucky enough to meet him in the locker room and I had him sign a program for Benjamin. Definitely one of my all time favorite Terp football players and someone I will be proud to talk about to Benjamin as he gets older.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

All it takes is a twist of the cap...

Since this is the end of another year, it's time for everyone to revel in the past year and celebrate a new year. That's all good, don't get me wrong. Year's ago this used to be my favorite time because I sure celebrated. Too much.

Christmas Eve I took Weena and Benjamin to a local country club's golf course to see someone I greatly admire, Jim. I wanted him to meet my family. Without his advice, assistance and guidance over the years I do not know if I would be in the position I am in right now. Jim and I are both recovering alcoholics.

I have almost eighteen years and Jim has close to fifty years. When I was very early in my sobriety I went to see Jim knowing he was sober. I always did things my way and something told me to go see him and for once, just shut up and listen. I did and later he suggested occupying my down time on weekends by working at the golf course. So for three years I worked my regular job at a bank and a part time job at the golf course on weekends.

During the slow times at the golf shop, we would converse and share thoughts on alcoholism. Call it a mini AA meeting if you will. This time period helped me greatly and without that I'm not sure I would have remained sober. At the time I went to see Jim, I missed the weekend revelry, missed the friends I had made, missed the bottled beer and missed the bars. AA meetings were very helpful, I was learning a lot there but at that particular time I needed more than just a roomful of drunks talking. The golf course offered me an opportunity to keep me occupied and I took advantage of it.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve with Jim meeting Benjamin and Weena. He could see the smile on my face as I introduced my family and he said softly "Program works". Absolutely and then we proceeded to talk more about our drinking days and ways. For me, it helps to talk about this a lot because it is a reminder of where I have been and also for me not to get too relaxed in thinking this is over with just because I have not had a drink in almost eighteen years. Jim asked if I have ever had someone tell me "Hey, you haven't touched a drop of alcohol in -x- number of years, you got it beat!"

Sure, that happens a lot I told Jim and I said I keep one thought in mind..."All it takes is a twist of the cap. A twist of the cap and I am on my way to losing all I had accomplished". See, I cannot have just one or two beers. Oh sure, maybe I could try but then my old way of thinking would eventually come back and I would be consuming six and twelve packs like I used to. I tell myself each day that today I will not drink.

It's a daily battle, something I don't have beat. See, all it takes is a twist of the cap....

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us! Thanks for the love, encouragement and support this year. Weena, Benjamin and I greatly appreciate it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Getting Closer To Christmas Day!

We took Benjamin to get his second hair cut today and he was very good. He was his usual playful self tonight as you can see. You can cue the theme to the movie Jaws for the first photo as he was checking out the loot that was piled up. Normally I'm not the most gung ho person when it comes to Christmas, but this year has been different. For one, I have 125 Christmas songs on my iPod that I plan on playing throughout the weekend when people visit. Two, I have completed all of my shopping. For family members reading this in shock, I will write this again. I have completed all of my shopping. In year's past I usually start around the 21st.

Ho ho ho!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Today I Turn 45

I turned 45 years old today! Doesn't feel like I am in my mid-forties though. Not with a one year old son raise. I feel ten, fifteen years younger.

That said, look what I got for my birthday from Weena and Benjamin...

I am blown away by this CD. December 16-19, 1970 Miles Davis took what some consider to be his last great quintet into The Cellar Door, one of the premier music spots located on 34th Street NW (Georgetown), for a four-night stand. Musicians included Keith Jarrett on both electric piano and organ, Gary Bartz on alto and soprano saxophones, Michael Henderson (played with Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin) on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums. Guitarist John McLaughlin joined the band for the Saturday session, playing what he calls some of the most intense music of his career.

All Music gives this a five star rating. This will be in the CD player in my car this week.

Friday, December 15, 2006

From the Gridiron to the Army

One of the fun things I enjoy about being a season ticket holder to Maryland Football is I love getting out to the stadium early to watch the teams warm up. Over the past couple of seasons one of my favorite players to watch has been Guard Donnie Woods. He's been one of the Terps most consistent and toughest offensive linemen, playing the entire 2005 season with a banged up shoulder.

The other day I saw a newspaper article that Woods was leaving Maryland early, giving up is senior football season in 2007. He's not to jumping to the NFL for a chance at fame and the riches that come with being an NFL player. Instead, he's going to join the Army. Woods will graduate in May 2007 with a criminal justice degree. Then he's headed to Army Officer Training School with the goal of leading ground troops in Iraq. He will play his final football game in the Champs Sports Bowl on December 29th vs Purdue.

During my Maryland Football: Behind The Scenes piece I wrote back in October after the Florida State game, one thing I noticed when I was in the Terps locker room was Woods kept an American flag on his locker. His brother served two tours in Iraq and he comes from a military family.

He's giving up a fifth year of eligibility (He was redshirted his freshman season) because he fears another injury could make him unfit for military service. During that Florida State game, he suffered a neck injury and was medevaced to a nearby hospital. He's had a banged up shoulder and other injuries that offensive linemen get when battling in the trenches.

He's currently 6'3" and weighs 290. He plans on losing 60 pounds in the upcoming months to get to 230.

Since 2004 I've enjoyed watching him progress into a reliable starter during his Terps career and wish him the best. Good luck Donnie and thanks.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More Christmas Pics

Christmas is getting closer and closer and packages are starting to arrive at the house for Benjamin. I think he understands something special happens soon. Benjamin likes to point to the Christmas tree when we light it up. I really hope the weather stays nice as I would love to walk him around the neighborhood in his stroller so he can see the light displays of our neighbors.

Right now he is so much fun to be around. He's learning more words and is into his Elmo books. He's racing all over the house now. Tonight at the Christmas tree I lost sight of him for a moment and he tripped over my foot and his noggin hit the floor. Lucky he hit the carpeted portion. A few tears later, he was back to his normal playful self. Meanwhile, I felt like the worst Dad in the world. It's tough seeing your son cry but it's going to happen a lot during the next few years.

The night ended with me taking him upstairs at his normal bed time. He associates me with play time and usually Weena puts him to bed. She was wrapping gifts for awhile, so we read and watched the Maryland basketball game. He knows the word "turtle" and said it a few times during the game as the Terps logo was flashed on tv. He'll be ready for the start of the ACC season in January!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Cole Field House

I have four tickets to the Maryland-Mount St. Mary's basketball game at the end of this month. This game will be played at Comcast Center, which opened up in the Fall of 2002. Don't get me wrong, this is a beautiful facility to watch a basketball game in but sentimentally, it's just not up there with old Cole Field House in terms of tradition and memories. Cole Field House opened up in 1955 shortly before my Dad arrived at Maryland. Currently an intramural indoor soccer practice field has replaced the basketball court, and spaces along the perimeter have been reconfigured into classrooms and temporary office spaces.

Take a trip back to the glory of old Cole Field House, which hosted it's last Maryland basketball game in March 2002.

I have two pieces of the Cole floor here in my rec room. One autographed by current Head Coach Gary Williams and one autographed by the ol' Lefthander, former coach Lefty Driesell. The first game I ever saw at Cole did not involve the Terps but the then Capital Bullets, who played some games there in the early '70's. Cole hosted the 1966 NCAA Final Four, which Texas Western started an all black lineup and beat heavily favored Kentucky, which started an all white line up. Cole Field House also hosted the 1970 NCAA Final Four as well as several NCAA regional games including a thriller in 1991 where the first ever upset of a 2-seed at the hands of a 15-seed took place. Richmond defeated Syracuse, 73-69. Of course there were several thrilling ACC contests there, too numerous to list here and a great, great game in 1982 in which Maryland upset third ranked UCLA in double OT.

Whenever Lefty Driesell used to walk out on the court the band used to play "Hail to the Chief" and the crowd would just go crazy. Also, the band would play "Amen" when the Terps had the game just about wrapped up. When they would start that, the people would sing along with the band. That was a great Maryland basketball tradition.

When I met former Terp Lonny Baxter two years ago at my office one of his best memories was beating #1 Duke at Cole in 2002. That win was the first time they had beaten them at Cole during his four years there.

Other big events:
1972: A ping-pong match between the United States and the People's Republic of China is played at Cole, the first sporting event between the two countries.

1972: An exhibition of the Soviet gymnastics team, including gold medalist Olga Korbut, sells out the arena and is televised locally.

1974: Elvis Presley in concert.

1975: The first televised women's basketball game is played at Cole. Maryland loses to the defending national champions Immaculata 80-48.

Overall, 13 men's basketball All-Americans and 4 women's All-Americans have played there. Best one I ever saw: Len Bias, with a close second to Juan Dixon.

I went to a lot of games there but the one most important to me was February 19, 1989. This was my last day drinking and part of this day was spent at Cole Field House watching the Terps lose to North Carolina. I still keep that ticket stub from that day.

So why did I write about an old building? About two hours before the Maryland-Wake Forest football game two weeks ago, I'm pulling into the Terrapin Trail Garage when my cell phone rings. My buddy BC is calling me from inside Cole and yelling "Maryland basket by Lennnny Ellllmoreeeee!" That was pretty cool.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Christmas Present

One empty box = One airplane for Benjamin. Benjamin and I had a blast tonight just playing around with an empty box which is going to be used to mail presents. Sometimes I wonder which one of us is having more fun.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Classics From Christmas Past

The first photo is me at age three, taken in 1964. The second is in 1965. My Uncle Dave is fiddling with a Mustang model, my Dad is trying to figure out something by reading the instructions and I'm wondering when I can play with my loot. The gentleman seated in the chair enjoying his Christmas "iced tea" is my Grandfather Sam. We nicknamed him Grand Sam. Note the grin on his face. He's probably thinking I don't have to put together anything, I can just kick back and relax....I have great memories of Grand Sam. I always loved his baseball stories, which dated back to the 1920's. He died in 1987. I think about him often and will make sure to tell Benjamin all about him when he gets older.

Which brings me to the last photo from 1966 of my sister Kim and me. I think this was the year we were rugrats on the Santa stage and it took forever to settle us down to take the photo. Note my facial expression and Santa's.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Like Father, Like Son

The first picture is Benjamin at five months (March 2006) and the second one is me at almost four months (April 1962).

This week marks the one year anniversary of this blog. I never knew I'd keep this thing going for this long but it has been a fantastic way to let family and friends see Benjamin's progress. We have relatives and friends in various parts of the USA and all over the world from the Philippines, Canada and Kuwait. Norway, Germany and Spain and Australia also check in. I like the fact family and friends can log into this site and get the latest scoop on Benjamin as well as other things such as sports takes and whatever else is on my mind. I hope the content here is interesting and I appreciate all comments. I like to write and this serves as an archive for Benjamin to see just what went on during the first year's of his life.

In closing out 2006 I'll select various pictures of me as a little boy and will compare these with the hundreds of pictures I've taken of Benjamin since his birth. I also plan to scan in some pics of my Great Grandfather, Grandfather, Dad, me and Benjamin and will see if Weena would like me to include pictures of her family as well. Enjoy!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Santa Visit

Let me get this straight Santa. Every December we decorate our house with a tree and lights. You land a sleigh with reindeer on our roof, come down our chimney, eat cookies and milk AND leave presents???

Last night we took Benjamin to the mall to see Santa for the first time. Last year at this time he was a little over a month old, so we passed. I made a mental note then to take him on a slow night just after Thanksgiving because the lines were very long when I did my shopping in mid December. The pictures we got came out nicer than this scan did. Next year this will even be more fun when he understands a little more about Christmas and traditions our families have. He likes listening to A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Guaraldi.