Tuesday, June 9, 2009

This one's for you, JoePa!

Yesterday Laurence says, "Mommy, do you remember that man who broke his foot?"  No one comes to mind, so I say, "What man, Laurence?"  He says, "You know, that old man, with the shrinkly skin."  This is still not ringing a bell with me, but then he adds, "The football man."  OK, got it!  "You mean Joe Paterno?"  "Yesssss!  Joe Paterno.  I hope he doesn't have to still be in the box."  Another very touching moment in our house.  If you don't "get it," read on...

Joe Paterno, affectionately referred to by many as JoePa, is the head football coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, Laurence's favorite football team (somewhat by coercion, but I'll take it).  JoePa, who is 82 years young, has been coaching at Penn State since 1950, and was named head coach in 1966.  He has coached thru 11 U.S. Presidents, and 4 of my family members' days at Penn State (my dad, my brother, my husband, and me).  With a 3-year contract recently signed, retirement is nowhere in sight.  This guy is a legend, and in my eyes is certainly considered a hero and wonderful example to all humankind.  I don't care how much money he makes & I don't mind the occasional losing season.  His leadership, coaching style, and dedication & generosity to the university and community are inspirational to say the least.  

Four days before the season-opener last fall, Paterno, 81 at the time, injured his leg while attempting an onside kick during practice.  Imagine that!  Laurence remembers hearing about the incident, and during each televised game would watch intently for JoePa's face to appear from the press box, remarking on how sad he looked.  Not that Paterno always appears to be a barrel of laughs during any game, but he certainly seemed rather subdued not being on the sidelines where he belongs.  I'm touched that Laurence picked up on all of this -- clearly he really pays attention -- and that he continues to be concerned this many months later, as the beginning of football season once again approaches.  

I hope Joe Paterno coaches for as many more years as he desires, but certainly long enough for my boys to learn from his example as I have.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, he must be an inspiration if you named your Pet Society pet after him. ;)