Traveling with Sam

It’s Thanksgiving Week for my women’s basketball team.  That means on the road for a couple of games.  I’m definitely not complaining because I am on my way to Honolulu, Hawaii for the Oahu Classic.  We will play a team from the basketball-rich state of North Carolina and another from Michigan.  I think the Michigan team will enjoy Hawaii more than the young women from Tabaco Road.
I know what you must think, “How can that team fly to Hawaii with all the budget cuts?”  It was really pretty simple; the players are great people who wanted this trip and made sacrifices to ensure the travel.  First, they paid $500 of their own money by the end of last summer to guarantee at least 40% of the cost.  During the school year, the female hoopsters will conduct two fund raisers and you never see them coming to your door with their hand out.

 

The fall fund raiser is our Shaq’s 24-Hour Nightmare.  The players gives me a list of 35 names from their family and friends, most from their home-town, who may donate money to sponsor their marathon charity toss.  We really do shoot free throws for 24-hours, but it’s divided up among the team.  Teams of three shoot for three hours in two different sessions.  That means if you shot from 3–6 p.m., you would turn around and shoot during the wee hours of the morning, at 3-6 a.m.

 

The second fundraiser benefits several businesses of Maryville.  In April, 40-70 youth teams descend onto the ‘Ville for the Slam & Jam Bearcat Youth Basketball Tournament.  For one Saturday and Sunday in April, it’s tougher to get a Big Mac than it is to find a parking place at Wal-Mart the day the freshmen move on campus.

 

My assistants and athletic trainer also paid the $500 and I paid for the entire trip myself.  I also paid for one other traveler; a pent-up bundle of energy that checks in at 12 years old and almost 70 pounds, my son, Sam.  That’s the real topic this week for my ramblings; traveling with Sam.

 

Traveling with Sam Steinmeyer is much different than traveling with Sam and Michele Steinmeyer.  Michele is Sam’s mother and my wife.  I think she’s pretty typical for a mother on a long, complex trip, like a basketball trip over Thanksgiving with 14 basketball crazy and entertainment-hungry collegiate female players.  I almost hope Michele will skip reading this week’s blog.  I may find my belonging on the front lawn if she decides to scan my rambling Thanksgiving thoughts.

 

You see, Michele and Sam have a pretty confrontational relationship and they both love it.  The pair will argue about anything.  If Michele thinks Sam should eat, Sam refuses to admit hunger.  If atmosphere in the room is too hot for my wife, it’s too cold for my son.  When Michele thinks its time for homework, Sam wants another 20 minutes on his X-Box.  When Mom thinks Sam should be content playing Madden Football on the game box, Sam wants instant help with his homework; and on and on and on it goes.

 

If we are in the confines of our 2-acre property north of Maryville, the more power to them.  I had that kind of relationship with my step-mother.  I never realized how much I missed contesting wits with the evil step mother until I went off to college and had no one to debate the issue of curfews.  However, in the close confines of a passenger jet on a nine-hour flight from Chicago to Honolulu, those arguments escalate rapidly.

 

I think I’m a little more laid back than the overly concerned mother of Sam.  I really don’t care how much he sleeps on the flight, what movie he watches, as long as he doesn’t venture beyond PG-13 and if he eats anything, it’s a triumph for Mother Nature.

 

That wouldn’t be Michele’s or most mother’s reactions.  She would worry that lack of sleep will affect his whole week.  Of course, you don’t want the people sitting around you to think his young mind is being adversely tarnished by a mind-numbing chick-flick.  Finally, if Sam doesn’t dive into his chicken nuggets and pumpkin bread, he surely will collapse from lack of nutrition.  Sam would argue each point with his mother just for the chance to have a debate with his female parent.

 

I hope Sam has a great time this week in our 50th state.  However, he might think he has a blank check when he travels with his lay-back father, but the young man will soon discover that it takes patience to spend a week with a basketball coach.  So far, there’s been no hint of that.  Sam has spent most his time playing board games with my players or even one of my coaches’ wife.  Specifically, that woman is Penni Fox, the wife of volunteer assistant, Chuck Fox.

 

Chuck and Penni have two sons; Drake, which attends college at Missouri Western, much to the dismay of my team.  However, he did seem sincerely pleased by the results of Northwest’s big playoff football win over the dreaded Griffins.  The other boy, Creed, is much closer to Sam’s age.  The funny thing is Sam seems to have as much fun spending time with either of the Fox kids.

 

I guess you could hardly call Drake a kid unless you put the adjective in front of college.  That didn’t stop Sam from talking to him non-stop on the Kansas City to Chicago portion of our journey.  Now it’s Creed’s turn to help entertain the youngest member of the Steinmeyer family.  Chuck had no clue what he really volunteered for when he signed up with me.

 

The nine hour flight from Chicago to Honolulu is really driving Sam nuts.  Creed had the audacity of falling asleep on Sam.  That led Sam to be curious about how much flight is left in our journey.  Every 15 minutes or so, Sam ventures about 10 rows ahead to find me and ask the question that has been asked for decades by curious, young minds, “How long until we’re there, Dad?”  This will drive his mother nuts, too.  She would demand he move up with us and quit bothering the Fox’s.  Maybe I should, but I figure Chuck and I are close enough friends he’ll tell me if Sam has to go.

 

It’s the rest of the week that will either help bond the Steinmeyer boys or drive Sam away from every taking a trip with his old man and his basketball team ever again.  Sam probably thinks he gets to sleep in during his week on the island-state called paradise.  Forget that notion; he’ll be with me at 8:30 each morning as we walk to an outdoor court about three-fourths mile from the hotel for team practice.  I will even have the audacity to force the young man to hike up to Diamond Head to watch the sun rise out of the Pacific at 6:45 sharp; that’s am not pm.  Of course, we’ll make a stop at the Diamond Head Grill for a couple of their famous Blueberry Cream Cheese Scones.  I know Sam won’t eat his but I won’t tell his mother because she’ll be convinced he’ll be hospitalized for not eating this high calorie delicacy.

 

It won’t be all painful for the pre-teenage boy.  He’ll get to tour Pearl Harbor, the Arizona Memorial and Hickman Air Force Base on Tuesday.  I’m sure he’ll get some beach time the first three days of our trip.  Sam may not eat sea food, my favorite treat of the island, but his mom can be assured I will fill his tiny stomach with peanut butter sandwiches, Denny’s French toast, and chicken nuggets.  Maybe Sam will even pick up a pound or two.  That’s unheard of for this horrible picky eater.

 

Poor Sam is going to have to spend from six to ten hours in a gym on Thanksgiving Day and it all begins at 7:30 am local time.  I’m afraid sleeping until 10 am, and getting up to watch the Macy’s Parade with Al Roker isn’t possible this year.  Again, don’t tell Michele, but we won’t even eat our Thanksgiving feast until Thursday evening.

 

Sam really doesn’t like to shop with his mom or dad too much.  Heck, I hate shopping with myself.  He certainly doesn’t have to worry about getting up in the early morning hours to find the best bargains on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year.  No way; Sam will be in the gym for another three to five hours of basketball.

 

Don’t worry mom, after suffering through his second day of marathon women’s basketball action, we’re on our way home.  This time, the flight is broken up with stops in LA and Dallas-Fort Worth.  By Saturday afternoon, Sam will be back in the middle of another argument with his mother.  Does it get any better than that for a mother and her son?

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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.