Packing on the Pounds

The other day, I was in the foyer of Lamkin Activity Center when I ran into a friend and good Bearcat booster. After a typical friendly “Hello,” he looked me up and down and said, “Looks like you have packed on a few pounds.”

Maybe I hadn’t seen him in a while, maybe it was the oversized sweatshirt I had on, or maybe a few more body parts had sagged recently. I looked hurt and said, “I don’t think so.” That was more defensive than truthful.

I have spent every moment of my adult life in sports. That’s the lucky part. The unlucky part is over the past 37 years, sports has in one way or another caused me to pack on about 50 pounds from that skinny freshman college kid in 1968.

Boy, does it creep up on you. The first time I noticed weight gain came when I was a 21-year-old lifeguard in Kearney, Neb. Every 75 minutes, I got a break in the concession stand. Free, frozen and very tasty Snickers candy bars made me notice my swimsuit wasn’t very comfortable. The first sags had begun. I now knew the meaning of love handles.

Three years into my professional teaching career, I found myself as a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher in Pleasant Dale, Neb., as well as the junior high basketball coach. Each day they shipped in the noon meals for my students from nearby Milford. The person who delivered the food made sure I had an ample supple of snacks for when the elementary students got the best of me.

I should have known my weight would increase. In science class, I had my students separate two gerbils into different cages for an experiment. One gerbil was fed the recommended amount of healthy gerbil food. The other got a sample of everything found in our school lunch. We put the gerbils on the scales every couple of days and charted the results. The gerbil’s weight and body type who ate the human food quickly swelled. I swelled, too.

Fast forward about 10 years as I began my college coaching career at Doane College. The Admission’s Director, and admission’s employee and I decided to take a baseball trip. We traveled to Boston, New York and Philadelphia. I bought a book before the trip call Dodger Dogs to Fenway Franks. It tells what cuisine to buy at each ball park. Weight gain is not considered a priority.

Bob Wood, the author, called the Fenway Frank “the absolute worst wiener known to man.” However, the pork chop sandwich from a push cart outside the stadium called for seconds. At Yankee Stadium, I would have been a hypocrite if I had not sampled the famous knish. It was a small potato roll that actually had mashed potatoes inside homemade bread. They were small and cheap. Buy a dozen because they only can be purchased at Yankee Stadium. Then, for the first time, my new blue jeans with an expanded 36 waist seemed awful snug.

Now coaching became serious. Every season began with September practices and long postseason runs into late March. Throw in a couple of banquets and those ball park road trips and maintaining that slim 190-pound frame seemed reasonable.

Then came the move to Northwest Missouri State University and my son, Sam. About a month after Michele, my wife, and I moved to Maryville, our household was invaded by a seven-pound bundle of poor food choices. Sam Steinmeyer was born on a Wednesday, just before Law and Order. Those nine months prior to Sam were tough on Michele. They were tougher on my waist line. Sympathy weight they call it. I had now soared past 200 pounds.

That’s the highlights of how I got to the meeting with my friend and booster who informed me I had packed on the pounds. I immediately walked five miles that day. I walked three miles four days in a row. I could feel the weight melting off my oversized waist line.

Last Saturday was Family Weekend at Northwest. I had my slightly reduced bulky body on display for the parents of almost all my players, plus six visiting recruits. I invited them all to my house Saturday morning for a pot luck lunch. Just before the kickoff of the Northwest – UNO game, they all took off, leaving all that left over food behind.

I thought I was discreet. Even my metabolism shouldn’t have found out what happened next. I found the two pieces of left over apple pie, a big bowl of Heavenly Fluff, two stuffed chicken breast, a giant pile of Italian potatoes, and several handfuls of original Wisconsin cheese. Of course I ate it all.

Tonight, as I write this blog, I plan to walk home. That’s about two miles. However, if I walked three miles, I could make a stop and see what the new Taco Bell has on its menu.

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Gene Steinmeyer

About Gene Steinmeyer

Gene Steinmeyer coached the Northwest Missouri State women’s basketball team for 13 seasons before retiring after 26 years as a collegiate head coach after the 2011-12 season. He retired as the second winningest women’s basketball coach at Northwest as his 2010-11 team won both the MIAA Regular Season and Tournament Championship advancing to the NCAA National Semifinals one game shy of the national championship game.