Posted tagged ‘Air Force Academy’

Being A Cadet Sponsor Family

September 18, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    September 18, 2016

                          

Charlie Wasz is a fine young man! He’s also a new cadet persevering through the first grueling months of dictated life at the Air Force Academy. This week will see him cross the three-month line. Three months of being told what to do, what to think, when to breathe, what to eat, when to eat, when to go to bed and when to rise.

Charlie is the third cadet our family has been the sponsor family for. We’ve had a Protestant, a Jew, and now a Catholic. It’s been an enriching experience for us, all begun because our daughter, Lizi, went to church camp thirteen years ago with a young man named Josh Larson. Three years later she told us that Josh was going to the Academy and would we be his sponsor family?

Justin Katzovitz came a year after Josh graduated. He had attended the same high school, Hinsdale Central (Illinois), as my wife Carol, as well as being a classmate of one of our nephews. We enjoyed getting to know him and his family, and then his mom told the Wasz family about us as Charlie was getting ready to head west from Hinsdale.

Being a sponsor family is a trip! Yesterday Charlie called us about coming over for a few hours. We headed to the Academy, picked him up, brought him home, and he chilled on the family room couch for a few hours. Carol baked him some chocolate chip cookies to take back. He was sincerely appreciative of being able to “get away” from the academy grounds for a bit. Conversation on the way to and from flowed easily. We talked about the Academy Ultimate Frisbee team that he is member of, his overnight camping trip planed that evening to hike up Eagle’s Peak, his studies, new places on the grounds that he has discovered, his swim and dive team roommate, and the Chicago Cubs.

Charlie is an outstanding individual from an outstanding family. His sister is on the Indiana University rowing team, his older brother is serving with the Peace Corps in Botswana, and his younger brother is enjoying having the whole house to himself. His parents, Dave and GiGi are wonderful people who we’ve enjoyed getting together with when they are in town. Nothing seems forced, but we’ve just naturally become friends.

Carol has become Charlie’s “sponsor mom!” She wants to make sure he has whatever he needs and is doing okay. He knows that our house is his home, his place to get away and just relax. He knows that he can bring another cadet with him who also needs some “bed and breakfast.” We’re pretty flexible. Short notice calls to see if he can come over are usually okay. We understand that first year cadets can get confined to the Academy at a moment’s notice simply for not being able to spout off what a military handbook says about a certain regulation. Their squadron leader can get a burr up his butt and decide to pass on the pain to the cadets…so when Charlie calls and we can make it work…we make it work.

It is somewhat inspirational to see him adjust and conquer academy life. The first couple of weeks are like an ultimate culture shock, like jumping into a ice cold lake. After the initial shock the adjustment begins…and continues…and gradually becomes ingrained in the person.

I’ll end this with how I began it. Charlie Wasz is a fine young man…who wants to serve his country!

Respecting The Office

June 3, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         June 3, 2016

                                

I was not always on the same page with my parents. For example, I wanted to grow my hair out…like all the other kids…but my mom and dad kept me looking like a cue ball with fuzz until I was halfway through high school. “Morris Barber Shop” in downtown Ironton, Ohio is still “razor shaved” into my memory!

My mom’s definition of cleanliness differed from mine. If my bedroom “looked like a tornado hit it”, that meant my bedspread was slightly tilted to the side and one of the sliding doors on the closet was open.

On several other issues that I thought at the time were life-changing, or life-restricting, we differed as well. BUT I always greatly respected my mom and dad. We didn’t have to agree with one another. When Mom fixed dinner I did not receive a menu to decide what was to be served. I was not asked whether or not I wanted the spinach that was staring at me from my plate. I did not have voting privileges! I never doubted my parents’ love for me, even if I did doubt their sanity and thought that “they were so unreasonable!”

They were not swayed by the popular vote.

ME: ”Everybody’s doing it!”

MOM: “Not everybody! You aren’t!”

There is a difference between agreeing with your parents and respecting your parents.

Yesterday, I attended the Air Force Academy graduation ceremonies. The second cadet that we have been the sponsor family for, Justin Katzovitz, graduated, so Carol and I went to celebrate this incredible milestone in his life alongside his parents, twin sister, and other relatives.

I had the opportunity to see my first President in person. I thought President Obama’s speech was very good. Most of what he said I agreed with, but there were a couple of things that he said that I didn’t agree with.

When I posted a picture from the graduation of the President standing at the podium and simply wrote “I saw my first President at the Air Force graduation today”…and left it at that, it was interesting to see all the comments from people. Some said “Great! That must have been awesome!”, and others said “I’m sorry you had to hear him!”

Is it wrong to disagree with someone, but still respect him?

In my mind “respect” does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with agreement. Kind of like with my parents! When one group sees the president as the greatest thing since sliced bread, while another group sees him as the worst thing since the Yugo it seems that a person’s political perspective is the lens that the view is looking through.

I’ll admit that I’m a registered Republican who voted for Romney in 2012, but I still respect the person who holds the office.

Of course, respect is defined in different ways by different people, but one thing that gets voiced quite often, and in various settings, these days is the lack of respect. Teachers sense that in the classroom with their students and with the parents of their students. Customers sense it in the employees that willingly take their money, and employees sense it in how some of their customers treat them. Coaches deal with it in the players they coach. Police deal with it in how citizens communicate to them.

And people holding public office deal with it as they seek to serve the citizens. In Michigan I served on our community’s school board for five years. I don’t remember anyone coming to one of our monthly school board meetings to affirm us on a tough decision, or to thank us for leading our community in the constant pursuit of quality education.

Respect is what each one of us desires to receive, but not as open to give. In our President’s last seven months of office I’m sure he will make some decisions that I don’t agree with, but he will always have my respect.

It’s interesting to me that in the negativity of our culture and the polarization of our beliefs that we seldom anymore hear these words: I respectfully disagree!

A Passion for Good Sportsmanship

February 14, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                        February 14, 2013

 

 

I was at the Air Force Academy basketball game last night where they hosted UNLV. This is my second year being a season ticket holder for Falcon home games, and I love it! Getting season tickets is a little easier here than it is for Duke, Kansas, Michigan State, or North Carolina. A year ago when I went to get them about two weeks before the season opener I was surprised to discover that our seats are in the fourth row in between the Air Force bench and the scorer’s table. Evidently there aren’t that many season ticket holders.

This year the Falcons are gathering more and more fans since they are doing well. Let me tell you, there were a lot of open seats around us for the Western State and Regis games back in November, than there are now.

Last night as Air Force pulled off a great win against the Runnin’ Rebels I was taken back by the obnoxious comments by some of the fans around me. Why do grown adults think that it’s okay to scream “You suck!” at players visiting from another university. When an official makes a call that goes against the home team, even if it is suspect, why should people express their rage with such hate and venom? It wasn’t cadets that were screaming obscenities, but it was fans of an institution that raises the call of integrity, honor, and service.

And the thing is it seems to be getting worse! At a recent high school game where the team I help coach was getting beat pretty bad, a couple of adults were screaming in the otherwise quiet gym as one of our players was shooting free throws. Not students, mind you! Adults! I’m even assuming they were parents, but can not confirm that. All I know for sure, is that it was two middle-aged women sitting in the top row cat-calling. Their team was up by 30! Our team was feeling deflated enough as it was, but to have two middle-aged women cat-calling…sad!

I don’t understand schools raising money to fight cancer by having students wear pink, or coaches wear tennis shoes, promote it with announcements…and then when the game starts hurl expletives at players and officials.

There seems to be a growing passion for obnoxiousness in sports. And it isn’t restricted to spectators by any means. Players and coaches have often signed on to act like jerks as well. The number of technical fouls for players taunting has risen substantially.

There needs to be a passion for good sportsmanship. It needs to grab hold of our athletic commitment and fuel the approach to the game.

The integrity of the game and the fun of simply playing the game must trump any desire to humiliate the opponent.

The passion for good sportsmanship must be one of the foundational principles for any competitive situation. It must be a non-negotiable!

Recently I had a situation where of my players had a momentary heated encounter with a player from the other team. I used it as a teachable moment to express my belief that our attitude and actions must not be compromised simply because of differing attitudes and actions of others.

Spiritually speaking, my commitment to Jesus does not get thrown into the backseat simply because I encounter a situation where our culture says it is appropriate to do what suits me. My commitment stays as the main thing.

As a Christian who coaches I understand that if I compromise my principles it communicates to my players that its okay for them to compromise theirs as well.

Bottom line, a passion for good sportsmanship must be rooted within us. Sadly, it is becoming so unusual these days that I think more and more people don’t know what it is or what it looks like.