Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Beginning 2010 4/22/10

Spring is in the air! Pollen and allergens are everywhere! La Tech Spring Football practice is slated to start March 17th under the new guidance of Coach Dykes and his new staff. Practices are open to the public and the future of La Tech football looks bright. I am looking forward to see how the combination of Coach Dykes and Coach Franklin is going to look. I hope we have a leader emerge on the team from the very beginning! In my opinion we lacked that standout leader on both sides of the ball. Matt was super excited for spring practice to start. He has been working extremely hard in the weight room along with his kicking drills and could not wait to get on the field. Anytime you have a new coaching staff and a new season beginning you have to go out and sell yourself again. There are no guarantees in life and none in football. How you perform on the field and off the field will set you apart from any competition that you might have. The 17th was going to be a busy day! Not only was it the first day of spring practice it was also La Tech's pro day! Matt said practice went well and that they only wore helmets on day one. They were going to wear shoulder pads on Friday, Saturday, Monday and move to full pads on the following Wednesday. Matt said this was a little different than last year because he reported directly to Coach Dooley and this year he was going to be working directly with Coach Tommerdahl. Matt likes Coach Tommerdahl a lot and is looking forward to kicking deep most of the year. He said the Coach Tommerdahl has some great schemes when it comes to special teams and the coverage. If we can get the 4 plus second hang time we should be able to get coverage down the field. I know it is early, but I like what I am hearing. I was very saddened to hear about the passing of Ross's dad. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ross and his family. I know that Ross will grow from this and become even a better person than he is. I was very impressed that Coach Dykes and Coach Franklin drove down to Houston on their off day to visit with Ross and his family. Matt has told me many times that Coach Dykes is a player’s coach with an open door policy and this shows just that. Matt was happy for the most part of the first four practices and was looking forward to the first practice with full pads on Saturday. I wish I was a little closer so I could have watched in person. I sure would of loved to eat some pizza served by the Regal Blues. I talked to Matt after practice and he was happy with his kicks, but still had things that he needed to work on. There would be two more practices on Wednesday and Friday before the first scrimmage. My oldest son Tyler and his friend Bob made their way to the first scrimmage. He was pretty excited with what he saw. So far Matt has gone through 3 holders and Ross is currently holding for Matt. It is so important that the ball gets put in the same spot every time. Otherwise the ball is going to go all over the place instead of thru the uprights. After the scrimmage Matt said the team was starting to gel and a lot of players were stepping up and making big plays. The next Scrimmage was April 1st and after a good week of kicking Matt was ready when he was called upon. Matt kicked live on four kickoffs with all of them landing in the end zone. He also converted two PAT's. When I spoke to him later that night he was pretty stoked that he was finally allowed to kick deep. With all of the hard work in the weight room and fine tuning things with Chris Boniol things were starting to gel. I am not sure who writes the articles during the spring practices, but I thought the write up on special teams about the kicking and return game was pretty much spot on. Kicking, Return game to highlight 2010 season for Tech's special teams! Matt was coming home for the Easter break and I was looking forward to spending a couple of days with him. My wife was not going to be able to make it back home from Dallas for Easter, but my oldest son Tyler was going to hang out with Matt and I over the weekend. One of these days we will live in one house after our home sells in San Antonio. Matt made his way back to Ruston Monday. There is one more week of practices before the Spring Game on April 10th! Practices went well during the week and Matt was ready for Saturday. Matt said they did work on a couple different kickoff schemes and that from time to time there were going to be a few surprises, but for the most part the ball would be kicked deep! Right now I am singing the song "I'm So Excited" You really do not want to hear me sing. As always when there is a game of any kind in Ruston we have many family members who pack up their cars and head to Ruston. Not only was April 10th the Spring Game it was also my mother-in-laws birthday and we would be celebrating in the parking lot after the game. Happy Birthday Meggie! My oldest son and I left San Antonio at 5:00 AM Friday morning and would make our way into Dallas to pickup my wife before heading out to Ruston. Our goal was to get to Ruston in time to see the practice on Friday afternoon. We did make it on time and got to see some of the offense work through several different plays and schemes. It was funny watching Matt working with the defense as a running back dummy. After practice we hooked up with Matt for a bit before dinner. Matt was not going to join us for dinner as he was hosting a recruit and would be joining Coach Tommerdahl and the recruit’s family for dinner. We had a wonderful dinner with Dave & Jane Matthiesen. What a great evening it was. Matt had a breakfast with the Boy's and Girl's Club before the team breakfast, so we did not see him before the game. We made our way to the parking lot around 10:30 where we hooked up with the rest of the family and had a few adult beverages before game time. I did get to meet Coach E.J. Lewis before the game. We talked about La Tech and football. It was such a joy to talk to him and he wanted Matt to know if he needed anything to make sure and call him at anytime. The La Tech family is truly amazing. One great thing about social media and BBB is you get to meet and talk to some amazing people who love everything about La Tech. I finally got to meet one of those amazing fantastic people before the game. Ms. Dawgmatic I am so glad I got to finally meet you and I feel like I have known you forever. Thanks so much for all of your support and kind words! Its game time and I am excited to see where the team is at. Matt over kicked his first kickoff. I am sure the excitement played a small factor. I was a little disappointed that there was only one offense and one defense, but that is just me. It all worked out ok! It looks like we have quite a few wide receivers and running backs to start the season with. The quarterbacks all competed well. In my opinion only, I thought Ross and Steve stood out to me. I was pretty stoked when they sent Matt out to attempt a 57 yard field goal. He had the distance, but was just a bit left. At half time we went out to the Suburban for a few minutes I got to meet Mr. Russell Rainbolt who was on his way to his car. He is in the La Tech Hall of Fame for football and track. It was really cool to meet him. The second half was more like the first half on the offensive side of the ball. I was very impressed with our defense. Matt made a 40 yard field goal to end the game 44 to 44. It was fun to watch and it gave the several thousand fans that showed up a good glimpse of what to expect this fall. We met up with Matt after the game on the field. He told me that the 57 yard field goal was supposed to be 55 yards, but Coach Dykes backed it up two yards. We spoke to Coach Tommerdahl for a little bit and then headed out to the parking lot for a birthday celebration. We decided to move over to the east side of the stadium so we could have a little shade. We had a few adult beverages, snacks and Johnny's pizza. Mr. Fred Dean was walking to his truck and came up and said hello to Matt and introduced himself to all of us. It was so cool to meet Mr. Dean. Later that afternoon the male hormones were kicking in and several wanted to go on the field and show off their kicking abilities. We all took turns kicking field goals and some of our kicks were extremely ugly. I was kicking with a sock on and using my shoe as a tee. I missed my first two 30 yard field goals left and Matt moved my shoe over to the right so my ball would go more down the center. I got myself in position and did my knee lift like Matt does and attempted to kick a 30 yard field goal. The next thing I know is I am on the ground in severe pain and my left knee cap is on the back side of my left leg. I tried to move it some and that did not work. Matt was very calm and was by my side as well as many other family members. Dan "The Equipment Man" suggested to Matt that the trainers might still be there and sure enough Keith Bunch and some of his staff came down in the cart. Keith talked to me for a minute and told me he could set it if I wanted him to. I told him to go for it and he took my leg and gradually turned until it popped back in place. It felt better, but man it hurt like a SOB. They put a brace on it and drove me to the top of the field house. I made my way to the training room and Keith checked things out. There is definitely some damage in the knee, but no one knows for sure. Keith fit me with a compression sock and a knee brace. He also gave me some crutches to use until I could make my way back to Texas. I feel like a total fool and I know my football career is over. As we get older we get smarter and we think we can take on any athletic challenge that is presented to us. I think I let my smartness get the best of me as I thought that I could go out and kick 30 yard field goals with a 47+ year old body! When the hormones kick in we become invincible and we can do anything! Wrong! I was so very lucky that things worked out the way they did and that Keith was still at the stadium. We made our way back to Matt's apartment and celebrated Meggie's birthday with my brother-in-laws (Mike) world famous buttermilk pie. Man was it good! The rest of the family watched the baseball game from the outfield by Matt's apartment. We made our way back to Dallas to David and Barbara's (Janet's Aunt & Uncle) house. This would become my home until we could figure out what the next step was. I was also fortunate that Meggie (Janet's Mom) was here as well. To make a long story short, I had surgery a few days later to repair a torn MCL, ACL and a partial tear in the PCL. I also had a dislocated Patella and a 1.5 CM piece of bone broken off of my Femur. My lower thigh muscle had a tear as well. I am in full recovery wearing a flexible brace and will need to wear it for the next 12 weeks during the healing process. My knee is still pretty swollen and I have to keep it elevated as much as possible. A special thanks to all of my family and friends for all of the support and guidance during this time. I am a full believer that even though we are older that we are not always as smart as we think. I asked Matt later that night if I made field goal and he broke the news to me that I hit the crossbar and it bounced backwards. That really suck's! My football career might be over, but my love for the game will never go away. Ok enough of me. I want to end the spring season on a positive note. Not only has Matt excelled on the football field he is excelling in class. When he has spare time he plays golf with Tank and Chandler. He participates in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as well as being on the Student Athletic Advisory Council for La Tech. This summer he will be working with Chris Boniol during his week long developmental camp in Dallas and will be working with Josh Scobee at his camp in Longview. All in all we are very proud of Matt and are so glad that he ended up at La Tech. I have to give a special shout out to Keith Bunch and his training staff for helping me out and being there during my kicking woes. Not only am I thankful for all of the support from all of my family and friends, but I am so very thankful for the level heads of Matt, Mikayla (My Niece) and Dan "The Equipment Man"! I have to thank my oldest son Tyler for taking care of our two dogs during this time and I could not function without the awesome help that I have received from my beautiful wife, my awesome mother-in-law (Meggie) and Janet's amazing Uncle David. David and Barbara have opened up their house to me in Murphy and we are so grateful! I promise I will leave all of the kicking to Matt and will watch from the stands in the future. I will pick back up College Football Dad with summer workouts. I appreciate all of those who are following my journey. I write from my heart and what my feelings are at that moment. May your springtime be filled with Sunny Smiles, Sandy Dreams and Travel your Way! I smell summer vacations! Until our paths cross again, have a blessed Spring and Summer! College Football Dad!