Musings from the sports desk: An ode to our heroes, the sports parents

By BRANDON HURLEY

Sports Editor 

sports@beeherald.com

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The great Jack Lashier put it well, “Our parents are the real heroes.” 

They most certainly are indeed. 

I, for one, don’t know where I’d be without the support of my parents. 

I probably wouldn’t have such a strong love for everything sports if they didn’t back my passion. They did’t bat an eyelash when I cried when we left Iowa City after my first Iowa Hawkeye football game (No, this wasn’t recently, though I do get sad every time I leave there.)  

The very last section of the Iowa Hall of Pride in downtown Des Moines, overseen by Lashier, a 1966 Jefferson High graduate, is dedicated to parents, the “Real Heroes.” You can’t miss it and there’s never been a truer exhibit. 

A bronze statue of a couple watching their daughter play catch sits in the middle of the corridor with “Real Heroes” depicted above their heads on the wall. If that doesn’t symbolize how I grew up, I don’t know what does. 

Lashier, who’s been the director of the facility since it’s inception in 2005 and still gives frequent tours as he nears retirement, shares the following sentiment at the conclusion of each 90-minute session. 

“In the Hall of Pride, the real heroes are our parents because Iowa kids do turn out well and they have strong work ethic, they do have values and they are industrious,” he says. 

Those words resonated deeply once I heard them. 

Now, I’m not saying we as Iowans (I was born and raised in Ames, so I am qualified to speak to this topic) are the perfect citizens, but we do appreciate our values and seem to embrace family and tradition quite a bit. The state does have it’s flaws, albeit minor (we are slow to pick up on trends and modernize ourselves some times) but it’s still a very homely place. 

This column is a frankly, a little belated, a week after Father’s Day and a month past Mother’s Day, but a thank you to the ones who raised us is never unwelcome.

Perhaps now that I’m well into parenthood myself is one of the reasons why I appreciate what mine have done for me. Or maybe I’m just finally maturing.  

My parents dedicated themselves to getting my brothers and I to and from practices throughout our childhood. 

Jim and Lisa were the go to car pool family for everything sports related, even if they sometimes begrudgingly took up the responsibility. They gave one too many rides to a friend or two that always seemed to have his parents unavailable. 

They’d pick us up from the golf course after long summer days, sporting events, 6 a.m. basketball practices. The schedule wasn’t often pleasant for them, but they made it work.  

Swoop by and grab us from baseball practice and quickly haul us over to soccer the same night? Forget about supper, you’re going to that practice and we’ll figure out something at 9 p.m. when it’s over (usually B-Bops or Burger King. Healthy, right?). They drove us to soccer and baseball tournaments all over the state – we rarely had a free weekend and racked up the miles. The road trips often became our vacations. 

My dad coached several of my Little League baseball teams and my mom was at every game. She’s the ultimate No. 1 fan. She was the carpool mom for middle school football practice, picking up my twin brother and I and a handful of friends and hauling us home, all while blasting either Shania Twain or Avril Lavigne. So excuse me if I know all the words to “Skater Boi” or any Shania songs, it’s not my fault. 

Clearly, I’m extremely biased, but I don’t know if there’s a more sports crazed set of parents out there. My mom attended most of our freshman baseball mid-day doubleheaders during the heat of the summer. She drove the team vans for the high school golf team and even battled back from a golf ball related-injury that required 15 stitches on her forehead. Talk about resilient. 

My dad worked with my batting for countless hours. Buying tees, baseballs, wiffle balls and pitching to me at the batting cages. My brothers, parents and I analyzed every swing, every shot, every pitch. 

We weren’t the nutty families that built batting cages in their back yards or watched film (though my dad taped most of our games and even took video of our swings in our garage), but we did everything else. Jim and Lisa were often parent reps for the high school teams, helping organize banquets, team meals, fundraising, etc. The work they put in for my brothers’ and I’s benefit has been tremendous. Without them, we would’ve never played so many sports growing up. If there’s a sport in which we are involved in, one or both of my parents were there. 

They made it to probably 95 percent of our games and they even attend all of my son Caiden’s sporting events. 

Heck, they still, to this day, will travel out of town to watch my full grown brothers play in slow-pitch softball tournaments, even traveling as far north as Sioux Falls, South Dakota. If it’s Thursday night during the summer, you know where to find them, at the softball fields. That’s dedication. 

Not all sports-crazed parents are good, of course, there are many who constantly berate refs and the coaches and try to play politics. They constantly stay in the coach’s ear, panning for playing time for their kids and want a change in philosophy. Those are the worst kinds and I witness it quite frequently covering games. A ref never makes a right call and if a coach scolds their son or daughter, it wasn’t necessary. My parents stayed relatively quiet in that aspect, thankfully.  

Outside of physically playing sports, my mother and father never once attempted to push me away from a career in sports journalism. Even if they knew it would be a grueling, not-so-glamourous profession, they never urged me in a different direction. 

They’ve always shown a vested interest in my career. 

Without them by mine and Caiden’s side, I don’t know where we’d be. 

So here’s my thank you to our “Real Heroes,” our parents. 

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