We sent the two littles off to school this morning. It’s the final day of kindergarten for Sojourner, our youngest. She put on candy-red lipstick to celebrate. Her mom and I glanced at each other over morning coffee, and decided it wasn’t worth the battle.
I instructed the middle daughter, Zia, to have a great final day in the second grade. As she went out the door she stopped, whipped around, and announced, “It’s not a day, dad. It’s only two hours, 45 minutes.”
A half day, anyway.
Their 19-year old older sister is home from college after her freshman year, too. It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote about dropping Dakota off at the dormitory at Oregon State. She was excited about meeting new friends and being on her own. I didn’t burst into tears until the drive home.
“Not going to lie, dad,” she told me last weekend, “those first 7-10 days were really hard. I was lonely. Everything was new. Why do you think I was calling you daily?! But you work through it, and realize everyone’s going through the same thing.
“I had the best year.”
Isn’t that what every parent wants to hear?
As we were moving Dakota into the dorm in September I realized we were having very different experiences. I was looking back, clinging to her childhood. She was looking forward, peering into the future. It helped to remind myself that the drop off didn’t signal an end. It was a beginning.
When I sat down to write this morning I had every intention of crafting a piece that would give you an update on the Trail Blazers NBA Draft plans, and a peek at the stadium expansion project going on in Hillsboro. Maybe, too, share some of what I learned in the last 24 hours about the Oregon State football coaching staff.
Then, I heard the voices of those little girls.
Also, I saw an old tweet that featured a hand-written note from a 72-year old grandfather who wanted to give away a bucket of baseballs. He’d used the balls to throw countless rounds of batting practice to his son and grandson. They’re 46 and 23 now. The grandpa hoped someone else might get some use from them.
“If you are a father, cherish these times,” the grandpa wrote in the letter. “You won’t believe how quickly they’ll be gone.”
It’s sound advice. A few weeks into the pandemic, I went for a walk with my daughters. I’d checked in with readers and listeners of my radio show, making sure they were OK. But I realized one morning that I hadn’t bothered to take my kids by the hand and ask them how things were going.
“How are you doing?” I asked them on the walk.
Then, I shut up.
After a few strides of silence, they handled the rest.
My parents had four children by the time they were age 28. “It was different back then, people got married younger,” my dad said this week. They couldn’t have known what they were doing. I’m an older dad and I can barely figure it out. But I know that I’ve learned that there are few things more important than shooting baskets, reading them a book, or getting down on the carpet when they’re building with LEGOs and looking them in the eyes.
My oldest wants to be a special-education teacher, but she has a keen marketing mind and is socially brilliant. She’s the nicest person I’ve ever met. The middle daughter is artistic and has the best laugh in the family. The youngest — the lipstick princess — has taken up boxing. I love the kid’s range.
I’ll get to the Blazers soon enough, and update you on the project going on in Hillsboro, too. But part of the promise to myself with this new endeavor is to write what I wanted to write, when I want to do it.
I had to start today with those three girls. A school year is ending. The girls will bound into the summer, busy as ever. I’ll try to keep up. We live in a forward-thinking society. It’s tough to stay in the present sometimes. But I’m taking that grandpa’s note to heart this morning — these sure are the times, aren’t they?
NBA DRAFT: The Golden State Warriors threw another championship parade this week. Their title-winning roster is comprised of eight players who were originally drafted by the franchise.
In fact, Eastern Conference champion Boston also had eight original draft picks on the roster. Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were picked in a four-year span that started in 2014. It marked the first NBA Finals since Chicago-Utah in 1998 where the top-three scorers on both teams were home-grown draft picks.
Portland has the No. 7 pick in Thursday’s draft. Also, the franchise has struggled mightily over the years to attract top free agents. While you may want the franchise to find a more seasoned player who can immediately contribute, isn’t the right move here to keep the pick? Also, try to trade for more picks?
I know this strategy doesn’t fit with Damian Lillard’s timeline. He’ll turn 32 in a couple of weeks. But I’m not building Team Lillard — I’m building the Trail Blazers. Be sure, there will be at least one quality NBA starter picked at No. 7-plus in this draft. It’s general manager Joe Cronin’s job to get that right.
HOPPING ALONG: The Single-A Hillsboro Hops announced their design team for the $50-million Hillsboro stadium expansion project. Mortenson/SRG/Populous is the three-headed design/build team. That trio also worked on Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. And SRG and Populous are currently leading the transformation of Reser Stadium at Oregon State.
Hillsboro is making big plans. Other cities in the region should take notes. The expansion will result in a modest increase in stadium seating for baseball (4,500 to 6,000). But the project will also meet minor league baseball standards for long-season A-ball and turn the facility into a multi-purpose venue that could host concerts and other community and sporting events.
PAY BUMP: Oregon State’s football assistants got a bump in pay. My old friend Nick Daschel reported the news first. The Beavers’ salary pool for 2022 is $4.34 million, an increase of $340,000 from last season. The OSU pool increases to $4.66 million in 2023.
Meanwhile, Oregon coach Dan Lanning has $6.7 million to use among his ten on-field assistants. His predecessor Mario Cristobal was allotted $6,001,250.
Biggest raises at OSU?
Offensive line coach Jim Michalczik and strength coach Mike McDonald each received a $100,000 salary increase from 2021. Michalczik engineered a lethal run game and was a critical retention for head coach Jonathan Smith. He will make $575,000 in 2022 and $600,000 in 2023. He’s worth every penny.
One of Oregon State’s advantages this season is its staff continuity. Oregon (Lanning) and Washington (Kalen DeBoer) are breaking in new head coaches. Washington State has a new offensive coordinator (Eric Morris).
MAILBAG: I’m going to post a mailbag in the coming days. Got a question? A thought? Sports related? Not? Let it rip. Shoot me an email or tweet me a question. I’ll post the best questions and my answers.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate all who have supported, subscribed and shared my new independent endeavor with friends and family in recent months. If you haven’t already — please consider subscribing.
As usual I love your column about the girls…when your Dad heart shows. I check the athletics second. Always interesting.
A side note from a Grandma: my 11 year old and youngest granddaughter has asked me to teach her to sew…we’re having a fine time but I’m an amateur at best. She said last week “Grandma, I hope you are alive when I go to my prom so you can make my dress”. I’m having nightmares about trying to stay around for another 7 years….I’m 84. The years move quickly..too quickly at my age. Continue to cherish ALL the moments with the girls.
Love it when you write what you want, when you want. It shows up in the quality of the columns.