Monday, January 23, 2012

Would Joe have been a great sailor?

I'd have to twist my brain to make a sailing connection here and beyond the title, "Would Joe have been a great sailor?," I won't go further than that and I'll leave it to you to answer that question.

When I arrived at Penn State as a freshman in 1965, Rip Engle was coaching the Nittany Lions. It wasn't until my sophomore year that Joe Paterno took on the head coach title. Enough said, as there's no need for me to document Joe's coaching record here. This is about my relationship with Joe Paterno, not as a player, not as someone who ever met him (except many years later at an alumni event), but as a student and somewhat (but not rabid) Penn State alum.

Almost from the start, Joe was a (non-legendary then) icon. Maybe it was the glasses, which made dressing like Joe easy; it didn't take long before "Joe" started appearing, in caricature, on homecoming parade floats. (My "Joe Coach" shirt, featuring Snoopy with a PSU pennant, had been in my drawer for three decades or more.)

The foundation of what Joe did for Penn State was laid not on the field but across campus. Joe's athletes were in class with me, they took the same exams and they got no breaks. The team didn't get elite, special status; they were a part of the student body and in a small way made us all part of the team. These weren't hired guns on the field, they were friends and dorm-mates, even if the relationships were casual and most often just in passing.

Beyond that, Joe gave back. He might have focused on funding sports' facilities, which have grown substantially since my undergrad days. But no, Joe gave back by buying books and funding a major expansion to the university library. Name another coach who did that.

Joe's not without his faults. I'll accept Joe's words regarding the Sandusky scandal; he should have done more. More disappointing to me were his conservative politics and outspoken support of the Bush administration. (He's entitled to his political opinion, of course; I'm just saying as I look at the whole of Joe, there are things I like and things I don't, and I hold him short of deserving sainthood.)

I could go on. Suffice to say that to Penn Staters, Joe was always more than a coach and he was about more than football.

Rest in peace, Joe.

Monday, January 16, 2012

When does the season actually start?

There's a crossover point, I suppose, where I stop thinking about last year and begin to anticipate this year. When that is, I'm not sure but I do suspect I'm at the crossover point. Here are a few milestone events that turn the temperature up, no pun intended.

 For many Cape Dory sailors in Southern New England (and a few further north), January is about the Cape Dory Sailboat Owners Assoc. Northeast Fleet Winter Meeting, the year's first official event.

If you're from further north, then you probably look forward to the Cabin Fever Luncheon, held annually at Newick's, in Dover, NH. (Those of us who live somewhat in the middle manage to attend both the Winter Meeting and Cabin Fever!)

Next for me is the New England Boat Show (February 11-19 this year). While I typically don't buy anything or even see much that's new, I can't miss the chance to crawl over boats, chat with sailors and, traditionally, renew my SeaTow membership. (In 15 years, I called them once, but don't leave port without them!)

Now comes major anticipation time, when I watch the weather in March to find a good day to take LIQUIDITY's cover off! A bit of warmth, sun and not so much wind works best and I'm usually there by the third weekend. (My official start of the sailing season is the day the cover comes off; vice versa in the Fall.)

If the weather cooperates, I'm waxed, bottom painted and otherwise ready for launch by the second week in April. So near yet so far away.

When does your sailing season start?