Saturday, December 22, 2007

I don't ever wanna have a daughter

Throughout the course of my life, I've only had two true fears: Heights and escalators. And they scare the shit out of me. My fear of heights stems back to the days where I would follow my dad to football practice every morning ("Oh god, here he goes talking about football again" - it'll be brief, bear with me). Even at a young age, whenever I was at practice, I had to have some form of a role. That was the rule - if you wanted to be around, you had to contribute. In my case, the "role" that was bestowed upon me was to film practice. Because of Division III funds, it was beyond the budget to hire a permanent camera guy, so they had to make due with the coach's 12-year old son. I can remember they'd get this giant gizmo, commonly known as a boom truck, and they'd launch me pretty high up in the air so I could get a good overview of the field. Now most of you construction gurus are familiar with this machinery, but for those of you who aren't, basically, if you've ever seen someone at considerable heights working on a telephone pole standing in what appears to be an oversized bucket -that's a boom truck. And I would always cry to my dad and say "Please, don't make me go up there. I'll do anything else but that!" No matter how much I begged for a different job, he still preached Set of Three that he still preaches to me today at the age of 21: "Don't whine, Don't complain, Don't make excuses." His philosophy was a little different from what Mott refers to as the Set of Three (See I told you I'd find a way to get you into the blog).

I knew there was no way of getting out of it, so it did it anyway. But I am still to this day terrified of heights. Want another example? Here's one that the "U Crew" can relate to and anyone else that is familiar with the Washington Bridge that merges the East and West Bank. If I am by myself, I will always walk on the inside part of that bridge - Always. It could be 85 degrees outside, and there could be hundreds of people walking on both of the outdoor sides of that bridge - All of them peering through the window and wondering to themselves:

"Why is that idiot walking in the indoor tunnel on such a beautiful day?"

It's because the mere sight of overlooking that river one hundred feet below makes my heart stop. The solitary humiliation of walking inside by yourself is nothing compared to the nauseous feeling I get when I look over that railing. If I am with people, I might walk outside, but I won't get within 15 feet of that railing - Hell no.

In case you were wondering, no, that is not a typo. I am equally, if not more, afraid of escalators than I am of heights. And it all dates back to one single incident during my younger years. When I was in grade school, I used to be on a travelling basketball team. In between games, we would usually kill time by going to the nearest mall. I believe we were in Grand Forks at the time, but I got on the escalator first, and my buddy Willie got on the next set of escalator steps behind me (Side note: What-up Dub, don't be a stranger, we gotta hang out more). Anyways, I have no idea how this happened, but somehow Willie's jeans got snagged and the escalator and absolutely tore them to shreds. His right pant leg had a tear from his ankle all the way up to his mid-thigh, and he had to walk around the mall like that for the rest of the day.

Even though this was a freak accident that had the odds of probably one out of ten million, I still and forever will be very cautious about getting onto an escalator. I often find the nearest stairway just to avoid them. But if that isn't possible, this is usually my procedure for making the transition from ground level to moving metal steps. The first thing I do is put my hands in both of my pockets and pull up on my pants like I'm walking through standing water. I then take my first step with very careful timing and precision. I cannot be rushed. It's kind of like double-dutch jump rope in the sense where you just gotta feel it. I have to be in a rhythm and sometimes it can take roughly 3-5 seconds for me to get on. This generally ends up being a problem with the person immediately behind me who's knee-jerk reaction is to throw up their hands and flash body language universally known as "WTF!" I may look certifiably insane to many people around me, but I refuse to take any chances. I'm scared to death of the escalator eating my pants.

I think this is officially the longest I've ever rambled on without focusing on the main topic. But you gotta understand that all of this is progressive, and what I am getting at is that I used to have only 2 real fears in life, but I've most recently added a knew one. I've always said to myself I want three children (I don't know why - I just think that's a good number) with at least one of them being a different gender. My thought process was 3 of the same thing would drive me nuts either way, and it would also contribute to a balance household. My mom often jokes with 3 other guys in the family, she has no allies, so that would at least alleviate that element of the equation. But the more and more I think about it, I've come to the realization that I don't think I ever wanna have a daughter. And this is stemming from a multitude of reasons.

Most specifically, because of the person I am, and because of the nature that young adult male's mind works. Whenver I see an attractive girl of my age, it's almost inevitable that at least one impure thought is going to cross my mind. I'm trying to shed away this mindset, but it's not that easy. And I know for a fact that there many guys out there much worse than me. If someone had the same thoughts about my daughter, as I do at the age of 21, I would definitely set a new standard for Meltdown Nitro Mode.

I often wonder what it would be like if I had a younger sister. I'd more than likely re-define the concept of "overprotective." I don't envy my friends with younger sisters who take a lot of abuse for it, and this is the one form of comedy that I'm not quick to join in on. Aside from Benoit shots and the "C" word, I don't take offense to a whole lot of things. If you start talking politics, I automatically tune you out. If you put down my religion, I shrug my shoulders and ignore you because I know you're an idiot. But I would not put up with someone making jokes about my sister whatsoever. That's one situation in life for me where the gloves would come off. I do think however that it would be quite humorous for a young lad to come over to the Kostich household and introduce himself to my dad and say that he was taking his daughter out on a date tonight. That would be something else because "Hogan Knows Best" doesn't have nothing on him. He would put the fear of God in that kid - it kind of reminds me of the new country song that goes "Ya'll go out and have some fun. I'll see you when you get back, probably be here all night......still cleanin this here gun."

The biggest thing that gets me about this particular topic, is that in my eyes, young girls in the present era have absolutely zero role models. There I said - I've drawn the line pick your side. Sitting here right now I can't think of one single celebrity that can serve as a positive example. The one person that I'm kind of the fringe with is somebody like Angelina Jolie who's partaken in many humanitarian endeavors such as promoting adoption and what not, but then again, there's the satanistic side of her who's confessed to cutting herself many times throughout her life. A little hard to put her on the same pedestal as Mother Theresa. I shudder at the thought of my daughter one day looking up to the nuts and sluts that fill pages of US Weekly - Britney, Lindsay, Paris and the list goes on and on. As much as I like to subscribe to the philosophy that there's a lot of good apples out there, but we just don't hear about them, I'm convinced that they're non-existent.

At least in the case of younger boys, there's a great deal of professional athletes that can serve as a model. I can look a Peyton Manning, or a Kevin Garnett, or a LaDanian Tomlinson, and notice all of the qualities that make these guys innately good people. Athletes have an influence over young boys that is almost unparalleled, and when used in a positive manner it can be so powerful. But then you look at female athletics and I don't see a whole lot of women who young girls aspire to be like. And that brings up a whole separate issue that I think most girls are generally swayed away from athletics because of the thought that you have to undertake masculine qualities in order to be successful in sport. This isn't completely true, but it's not altogether false.

So when you're not interested in athletes and you're not interested in the movie/music stars of today, who do young girls look up to? Answer: They turn their tv's on to the MTV Hills and let the girls of this show serve as their guide and compass. Now the Northstar crew, you know I love all of you, but I'm starting to develop a permanent scar right above my ear from all the head-scratching I've done in an attempt to figure out why not just one of you - but all of you systemically got together and decided that each of you should put down "x" amount of dollars (I forget the figure, but I'm sure it was significant) to rent out a private little area in a downtown nightclub so you could take selfies with something called LC. And the guys are the ones who surprise me the most - especially the one that once told me (who by the way I'm trying, but I still don't know how to link your blog): "The biggest tools on the face of the Earth hang out at Spin." My favorite part of the story was looking at the photos afterwards and noticing that in terms of attractiveness - just out of all the girls in that album, I wouldn't rank her in the top five. So guys from that perspective, I don't see the appeal there either.

I don't watch the show - I'm not familiar with the characters or the premise. But my finals are officially over, and I had to watch a couple of the episodes (which by the way are all available on to see what the fuss was about. Here is the breakdown of Hills: LC is a college-age girl that works with her bimbo friends at the Teen Vogue headquarters. All of the girls on this show come from affluent families with living conditions that are unrealistic for the average college student. It's very Breck High School like. The conversations that take place on this show consist of exaggerated dialogue and drama that most rational people would deem un-watchable. Although Miss LC has a pretty high-profile internship, from the 2 episodes that I watched the show makes no reference to any schooling that she has while maintaining what one would think to be a highly competitive job. So apparently, she's the LeBron James of the fashion industry in the sense that she got drafted out of high school and went straight into the pros.

Now again, with all do respect, this show is without a doubt primarily geared towards young adults from the ages of 12-17. But then again, I guess so is professional wrestling (there I took a shot at myself, I'm an equal opportunity ripper). But unlike my form of entertainment, they'll actually come out admit that it's a work, while the latter will dub it "reality television." You're out of your mind if you think everything on this show is transpiring in the actual way that their lives progress. From the camera angles, to the facial expressions, to the odds of just happening to be in the right place at the right time - it's all a work. And they call wrestling "fake."

The ironic part of this whole ordeal is that these girls have no concept of what "reality" actually is. Meanwhile, the rest of us outside the realm of "Laguna Land," are up to our eyebrows in college tuition debt, we're drinkin cheap liquor because we can't afford anything better, we don't go to fancy clubs unless there's a birthday because then we get free cover, and the majority of us are generally worried out about how we can maintain the cost-of-living during college and still work towards achieving our career goals. In comparison, LC's greatest stress is derived from fine-tuning the meticulous details and color schemes of an outfit that nobody cares about or even notices for that matter. The show portrays her character as someone who personifies effortless perfection, but truth be told, she is far from it. She works in a job that contributes absolutely nothing to society - she has zero talent, and has no idea what it's like to truly earn something. And somebody like LC is gonna be a role model for my little girl someday, give me a freaking break. God help us - everybody stop having daughters! Mothers and fathers of young girls, how do you possibly handle it? Those of you who can mold them into good people are nothing short of amazing.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Life is good at Breck

Give me a break you freaking weasels. It's Finals Week! I'm up to my eyebrows in assignments, papers, and test preparations. But without having the slightest bit of sympathy for me, all that people are concerned with is "why haven't you updated this thing yet." So in the midst of my busy week, I've found a free hour to write a blog in the form of one of my favorite and most interesting experiences this past year. Because that's the kind of person I am, I'll accommodate others first and myself second.

A small majority of people know this, but over the course of this fall semester, I've allocated a lot of my time to the Breck football program. I had the opportunity to work for the coaching staff on the varsity team. Now for you anti-football fans out there, don't be too quick to assume that this edition is not for you. As I've recanted many times before, and will continue to do in future issues, my whole life doesn't revolve around sports, sports, sports. And the last I wanna do is create writing where that is the sole topic of conversation. So don't pull the trigger and click the little "x" in the top right corner just yet, because I'm sure you'll enjoy the stories and experiences I have had.

I'd like to preface this by saying that I've never actually been to Beverly Hills, but through my experiences at Breck, I can't imagine that there is much disparity between the two. As I pulled into the campus at 3:00 pm every day, the scene most often resembled that of an exotic car expo. I have witnessed a middle schooler getting picked by dad in a Lamborghini. I have seen my kids carpool to practice in rides that are pushin six figures. Even one of our own - a member of the coaching staff who manages various restaurants in downtown Minneapolis drives a Maserati. As I was walking towards my less desirable car one night after a game, he asked if I wanted to ride with him to Chili's to share a drink with the rest of the coaches. Now I don't get off on cars like a lot of people do; automobiles have never really perked up my interest. But I am fully aware of how expensive this car is, so I subsequently jumped at the opportunity without hesitating - realizing that this is probably the first and last time I will ever ride in a Maserati.

For someone who grew up in what I consider a "blue-collar" smaller town setting, this was quite the culture shock for me. As a fifth grader, I don't have memories of whipping out my Sidekick to text friends in-between classes, and I certainly didn't have all the other luxuries that our varsity players are fortunate to have. The private school mentality above anything else was the hardest adjustment for me me personally. Forget about football - the primary reason I was there, but how do you possibly relate to kids that have lives completely foreign to the setting that you grew up in?

The school itself accommodates these kids in ways I could've never imagined at that age. Every student is issued there own personal Apple iBook, and the majority of them just take awful care of it. I can't count how many times a kid has come into the head coach's office and said "Hey did a janitor happen to pick up my computer? I left it in my 7th hour class." Not a big deal to them...just a laptop. Their dining hall is pretty impressive too. My favorite inside joke with one of the coaches who I share a similar background with is the comment: "Oh c'mon....salmon again!"

As far as the football specific amenities, we play all of our home games on state-of-the art field turf. The surface is unreal and it is completely weather resistant. So if it's been raining up until 3:30, the field will be dry by 3:45. Not only do we play on it, but we practice on it too. The school has two separate fields for games and practices. I couldn't believe all the Breck gear they shoveled at me when I first started. All of it was brand new Nike polos, t-shirts, windbreakers, pants, rain jackets, hats, shorts, and yes I am referring to all of these in the plural tense because I received them in the plural tense. I didn't get a coaching paycheck, but I think all of the free apparel, meals, and beverages more than compensated for my efforts. One of my favorite moments this year is when I invited my dad up into the press box with me during our game versus St. Anthony. It was turned momentarily humorous when during a timeout he asked me:
"Shawn what's that switch on your headset there?"
-My response: "It's a two-way communication deal where I can listen to both the offensive and defensive coordinator. Don't you have that?"
"No, we don't have that. I didn't even know that existed."

You should have seen our Homecoming. It looked like a carnival, and I'm not making this up. We had a clown making balloons, we had a tent designated for games and face painting, we even had two of those giant inflatable playgrounds that kids could jump around in. In addition, they had also deemed the event "Respect your animal day," where fans and alumni had the opportunity to bring their pets to the game. It was about the most bizarre thing I've ever seen, there must have been hundreds of dogs surrounding the field. In the midst of all of this, all I could think about was how could anybody possibly focus on a football game? (which we subsequently lost in overtime by the way).

I think it was either Ben Franklin or Brad Childress that once said: "Too whom much is given, much is expected." This is definitely the case with Breck parents who pay a pretty high premium to give their children the best opportunities available. When they pay that $26,000 per year tuition, first and foremost they want to work towards getting their kid a good ACT score. It's my understanding, that 15% of the students at Breck end up in Ivy League schools. This is the case for our captain linebacker who will be attending Harvard next fall. I can remember a guy from Moorhead announcing he was going to Harvard when I was in high school. I believe he is still the only one in the history of the school to do that - quite a contrast.

I was a little discouraged that our season ended so early, but at the same time I thoroughly enjoyed my experience there. Looking back, I feel so fortunate that the other four metro schools I sent letters to didn't respond to me. I couldn't have picked a better place to kick off my coaching career. Going into this, I fully anticipated me having a limited role with the team, but I was as about as engaged as you can be - serving as the primary defensive backs and receivers coach. As foreign as the private school mentality was to me initially, I gradually gained a new found appreciation for the school and Breck community started to grow on me. I should clarify that the campus itself is consists of a high school, middle school, and lower school which are all connected together. So as I walked through the hallways not only would I see my players, but also all the Little Mustangs walking around. The thing I like about Breck is it just has such a big brother like feel to it. Most often you would see high schoolers dropping off their younger siblings at their respective section of the school. The thing I like about the football program in particular is that it's not like Moorhead where you have these little Pop Warner teams with team names like the Panthers or Cougars. At Breck, you're a Mustang the whole way through. So, by the time you get to our level, they're just chompin at the bit to wear that navy and gold and play under those bright lights. I think that's such a cool thing.

Looking back, the stories that made me scratch my head are the ones I enjoyed the most. In our last playoff game, our kick returner went down around the 50 and didn't get back up for the longest time. All of us feared injury, but it turns out he had lost one of his contacts. What transpired afterwards was on of the strangest things I've ever seen. I have never in my life witnessed a 7-minute contact find on a football field. The search party consisted of officials, trainers, our players, and even our opponents. That was the best part about it - the Rockford defense was literally on their hands and knees combing the field to help find it. Can anybody out there even attest to finding their contact after dropping it in the bathroom? Impossible. I stood up in the press box speechless. Even the phrase "you've got to be kidding me" doesn't do it justice. The irony of situation is that he never lost his contact in the first place. After the game he discovered that it just got pushed up into his eyelid. Although he was one of the best running backs in the state, sometimes the world just turned a little too fast for him.

We definitely had our share of thrills this year also. Most notably upsetting the top team in our conference DeLaSalle on their homecoming. We had the game pretty well in hand in the fourth quarter, and I'll never forget our defensive coordinator switching his headset over to offense and saying: "Miller time, Miller time, Miller time!" It is always more fun when you win - no doubt about it. You guys can keep your kick ass internships, I'll take Friday nights any day of the week. Life is more comfortable in sweats anyway