Wednesday, December 19, 2018

On early signing day, a look back at the 2018 Leopards

These cannot be the happiest of times in Lafayette College’s Bourger Varsity Football House, despite the rose-colored-glasses approach head football coach John Garrett took in a recent letter sent to supporters of the football program.

Jack Bourger, one of the football program’s biggest boosters in many ways for a long time, told me he didn’t receive the letter.

What’s wrong with that picture? Plenty.

Offensive line coach Gordon Sammis, who would get my vote for Lafayette 2018 Coach of the Year for football for the job he has done with the big guys up front, has resigned and taken the same position on the staff at William and Mary.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Lafayette-Lehigh: How big was that first play?

Neither Lafayette nor Lehigh had any positive momentum going into Saturday’s football game in Fisher Stadium, so it makes sense to me that the team that could get an upper hand the quickest would have a distinct advantage.

But Leopards coach John Garrett didn’t agree with me at the postgame press conference when I brought up the first play from scrimmage, on which Lehigh’s defensive-line rush, Julian Lynn stripped the ball from Lafayette quarterback Sean O’Malley and Lehigh’s Davis Maxie caught it and ran for a 43-yard defensive touchdown. It put the visitors’ side in a frenzy.

I approached the play with the premise that you could have made a lot of money in Las Vegas if you placed a bet that a defensive end’s first-play touchdown would end up giving Lehigh more points than Lafayette would score all day.

The play was so bizarre to me that I stumbled around to find the best words to say to Garrett, who finally asked me, “What’s your question?”

Friday, November 16, 2018

2018 in review: not a lot of positive memories

J.J. Younger scored the season's first TD on a 95-yard kickoff return (Photo courtesy of Lafayette College).

Did you know that that seven of Lafayette’s 10 previous opponents this season – including all five non-league foes – have winning records going into games this weekend.

Coach John Garrett mentioned the difficult non-league schedule his team faced this year – Army is currently 8-3, Delaware and Monmouth 7-4 and Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut. I’m not going to get into a ton of research, but I don’t remember a year when the OOC opponents were this good as a group.

Here’s a brief game-by-game recap. Because after the second game, Coach Garrett told the media, “If both (Sean O’Malley and Cole Northrup) continue to play at the starter level, they’ll continue to get reps.” Alas, at a time when we thought they were going to share responsibilities  to take advantage of their differing talents,  the competition almost disappeared for the rest of the year.

O’Malley had one of his real disappointing games of the 2017 season against Lehigh. He was 6-for-18 for 43 yards. It was hard to watch. He didn’t play at a “starter level” that day, but there was no substitution. He has thrown for only three touchdowns this year while being intercepted 11 times. In two seasons, he has 15 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions. Seven of those picks have been returned for touchdowns.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Lafayette-Army notebook: Leopards will honor players' favorite vets

Lafayette Coach John Garrett said Tuesday that some teams that face Army West Point like to pay tribute to the Cadets and their service to the country in various ways. With this game also being played so close to Veterans’ Day, Anthony Martin, the equipment director at Lafayette, suggested one that may be the best yet.

Each Leopard was asked to select a relative or friend who has or currently does serve in the military. Players came up with photos of the persons they chose, and special decals were made from the photos and will be placed over the “L” on the side of the helmets for this game. After the game, the decals will be taken from the helmets, placed on backing, framed and given to the players as a memory of the game and of the person they chose to honor.

For example, offensive lineman Gavin Barclay said his two grandfathers served in the Army and he chose his father’s dad, who served in Vietnam from 1964-66; linebacker Major Jordan selected his father, who was in the Navy from 1985-89; and defensive lineman Harrison Greenhill selected his high school defensive line coach, who, he said, became a mentor and father figure to him and who had been a lieutenant colonel in the Marines.

Way to go, Anthony. And, God Bless America!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Flashback: Lafayette-Army, 2016

Rachel Robertson, who followed the Lafayette football team for The Lafayette newspaper, accompanied me to the Leopards’ locker room after the team’s 62-7 blowout loss to Army West Point back in October of 2016.

She had no idea what she was walking into. Neither did I.

Coach Frank Tavani, who supposedly had time to cool off, came into the room and, when I said, “I don’t know where to start,” that was all he needed. He was hot, not cool.

“Where you start is, we stunk; we got an ass whooping out there like I’ve never been involved in and it looked like we didn’t want to play. It’s disgusting and embarrassing. You want me to say anything more than that? Next question.”  It almost seemed like a dare.

I used that quote high in my game story for The Morning Call. I figured that, coming on the heels of a two-game stretch in which his team gave up 1,053 yards rushing and 120 points, and with a losing streak going to six games, Tavani deserved to blow off the steam.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Dale's 1803 House adventure: the rest of the story

Dale Earnhardt Jr. with Dick Farmer (right) and me.

I was in Indianapolis when Mario Andretti won the Indianapolis 500 in 1969.

I was in Bankstown, Australia, when Marty Nothstein raced to the men's sprint gold medal at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.

The crowd at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway went 

crazy when Andretti pulled into Victory Lane for his ceremonial sip of milk and that now famous kiss from car owner Andy Granatelli.

I listened as the chants of “U-S-A! … U-S-A! … U-S-A!” drowned out the “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie … Oi, Oi, Oi” and Nothstein hoisted son Tyler in one arm and daughter Devin in the other at the Dunc Gray Velodrome after putting an exclamation point on his bicycle racing career.

The victories by Andretti and Nothstein rank among the top one-day events of my newspaper career. Emotional celebrations of local athletes at the peak.

But on July 27 of this year, I experienced a different type of emotional event involving a high-profile athlete. No howling crowds. No television cameras.

I watched Dale Earnhardt Jr. walk through a house. And a graveyard. Only four other people were present. But, this was not their day. This day belonged to Dale Jr., and he immersed himself in it. It was terrific.

I couldn’t believe it when Dick Farmer, whom I first met when we played in the same senior tennis group, called to tell me Earnhardt Jr. had a direct connection to the 1803 House, a home that has been a labor of love for him for about 45 years. How could the family with such a rich Southern history have real ties with the Lehigh Valley?

Friday, October 19, 2018

Leopard-Bison pregame: 2 steps back

Was I a bit hasty in my decision to give the Lafayette Leopards a midterm grade based on the short half of an 11-game schedule?

It sure looks like it.

After they dazzled me with a 31-point performance in a victory over Central Connecticut State, I rushed to judgment and handed out an overall grade of C.

The grade caused one long-time follower of the program to message me: “You are a more generous grader than I am … no group is better than a C from me. A win against Georgetown gets the team to C+. A loss drops them to D.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Lafayette mid-season grade: one win saves it

I can remember more than once during my high school and college days that the score on a single test brought my overall course grade up considerably. It then became a matter of whether I could hold on to the higher average the rest of the term.

Well, the score I’m thinking about today was 31-24. It was anything but knocking it out of the park, but for the Lafayette football team, a victory over favored Central Connecticut State, which was earned with a drive that was completed with only 33 seconds left in the game, boosted the Leopards’ mid-term grade (at least in the mind of this one “professor”) from a probable best of D- or a worst of F to a C and the possibility of even better before the end of the term at something around 4 p.m. on Nov. 17 in Fisher Stadium.

The first four games of the season, including three in which Lafayette didn’t score a touchdown, looked eerily like the 2017 season. John Garrett’s team scored only 26 points and gave up 142. Coach Garrett had told us that his team was “miles” ahead of last year, his first on College Hill, but the results didn’t back up that assessment.

The four-game rushing yards average was up from 15.8 ypg to 46.8, but point production was down from 53 to 26 because passing average was down 57 yards per game. Rushing touchdowns were up (from 0 to 1), but passing TDs were down (from 7 to 2). Fumbles lost were zero last year, four this year. Ball security must improve.

Defensively, the Leopards intercepted six passes in the first four games of 2017, just one in this year’s first four. The second and third quarters continued to be the biggest problem. Opponents outscored the Leopards 116-9 last year and 90-10 this year in the middle periods.

The bottom line was that the Lafayette teams of last year and this year were both winless entering Game 5, and into all that negativity came a CCSU team that was the preseason favorite to win the Northeast Conference.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Lafayette-Monmouth follow-up: good and bad

When Lafayette lined up for its final play of the game Saturday night in Fisher Stadium, I actually had a fleeting thought: The Leopards are going to pull this off.

It was an improbable situation, but there was a good bit of improbability in the Lafayette-Monmouth game. What a fitting finish this might be.

It didn’t happen, of course, because Julius Spigner, a former Bethlehem Catholic High quarterback, never had a real leaper’s chance of grabbing the Sean O’Malley from defensive back Tymere Berry, who had him blanketed.

As the ball dropped to the turf to end the night, the guy in the press box had to ask himself:  Was this a game the Leopards could have won to stun everyone? Or, was this a game that wasn’t as close as the final 24-20 score would indicate?

The answers to those questions might both be the same: Yes.

Here’s my take.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Talk about offense can get pretty defensive

By the time John Garrett said, “There’s a lot of if’s and but’s there” at Tuesday’s media luncheon, he obviously knew he was treading on shaky ground.

But that didn’t stop him from pressing on.

Garrett has a way of making chicken salad out of just about anything he can find in the ‘fridge. A second straight game with no touchdowns wasn’t about to turn him around.

 I couldn’t get it all in the midweek print-edition story, but I thought he should have his say.

Offensively, we were really close,” he said.

All of us at the media table pretty much knew what was going to follow.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Is "incomplete" grade for Ms Freeman too generous?

The guys on the Lafayette Sports Fan Forum are preparing for the opening game of the new football season, but in the midst of everything, they have come up with an interesting chat on the first half year’s performance by director of athletics Sherryta Freeman.

Her task was going to be anything but easy.

At the time she was hired as the successor to retired Bruce McCutcheon, Lafayette coaches and alumni were awaiting the results of what was thought to be an extensive review of the entire college athletics program.

The report’s release had already been extended twice, and at this point, it’s still known by only a select few. Sounds like a big waste of money right now.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

I confess: Brain fade resulted in a terrible error

I messed up big time in constructing the lead of my Lafayette football Media Day feature story in The Morning Call this morning.

I was trying to compare last year's anemic offensive output with those of past Lafayette teams, and in looking at the Team Records page in the media guide, my brain misread a section referred to as "RUSHING DEFENSE."

I took the numbers -- 600 yards in 1939 ("Fewest net yds gained"), an average of 2.1 ("lowest ave. yds/rush") in 1940 and 66.7 ("lowest ave. yds/game") in 1939  as referring to the Leopards' all-time offensive frustration against opposing defenses.

What they REALLY meant was those were numbers Lafayette defenses had put on their opponents.  The 1939 Leopards were just 4-5, but they shut out three opponents and gave up just 67 points in the other six games. The 1940 team was an undefeated 9-0 with four shutouts and 33 points allowed. Those defensive stats came from those two seasons.

The Lafayette offense's numbers in 2017 were 430 net rushing yards, 1.7 yards per rushing attempt and 39.1 average yards rushing per game. So, the actual fact is that the Leopards' numbers were all lower than the all-time marks Lafayette defenses had posted against opponents in all the years such stats were being compiled.

The bottom line in my thought process -- that Lafayette must post better rushing stats this season if it hopes to increase its chances of turning around the program that has won only six games the last three years -- is still the same.

As for me, I can only hope my brain is more efficient going forward than it was Tuesday night.  To Coach Garrett and the team, use my blunder as motivation to stick it to me in 2018.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The pads are on and the hitting begins on Day 5

I took a couple of baby steps on Wednesday morning when I quietly arrived at Fisher Stadium for the first day of full-pads practice for John Garrett's Lafayette football team.

I took a seat at the top of the home grandstand (in the shade), sitting with a couple of guys who played football for the Leopards during my first go-around as the team beat writer -- in the late 1960s-early 1970s under Harry Gamble and Neil Putnam. Jack Bourger and Phil Noto are now two of the most interested alums.

I just wanted to see for myself what was taking place. No Morning Call story to be written, so I didn't look to interview anyone when the session was over. I just wanted to look.

Here are a couple of quick observations.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Patriot League preseason football report: Fordham

It was three days before Christmas, and during a 7:15 a.m. telephone call, Joe Conlin had just accepted the job as head football coach at Fordham University.

He hurried into the kitchen to share the news with his wife Karen, but to his surprise, she “was crying,” Conlin said. “Did you not want me to take the job?” the stunned Conlin asked.  “No, they’re tears of joy,” Karen responded.

The 38-year-old Conlin, who was the offensive coordinator last season at Yale, which compiled a 9-1 record and won the Ivy League championship. He said giving the news of his decision to go to Fordham to the coaches and players at Yale was tough for him. He spent six years building that relationship.

Conlin also went to the NCAA FCS playoffs seven years in a row (2004-10) as an assistant at New Hampshire, is now charged with reversing the fortunes of a team that was 4-7 last year despite having running back Chase Edmonds and quarterback Kevin Anderson among its offensive weapons.

Edmonds, the league’s all-time leading career rusher even though he missed five games last season, is now in the NFL; and Anderson, who threw for 73 TDs in his career, is also gone. So, Conlin was asked during the league’s preseason teleconference call, how is the Fordham team going to look different in 2018?

“Offensively, we won’t be that different,” Conlin said … “a little more spread out … we’ll utilize more formations than they did. We’re still going to be a zone team, utilizing tempo, take shots down the field with play action … still do some of RPO (run-pass option) and things like that … we’ll end up with balance, but the offense will strive to be more ground based, kind of open up the pass game with a ground attack, try to establish ourselves on the ground each and every game.

“Defensively, I think we’ll be markedly different … a little more agressive in terms of blitz packages and things like that … more man coverage. But hopefully, you’ll just see the guys playing hard, running to the football and having fun playing the game. That’s very much a hallmark of our program, to see our kids generally enjoy playing together and for Fordham.”

But because 15 spring practices were the only exposure the Rams’ players have had to the thinking and working of Conlin’s plan, the coach, asked about expectations for 2018, said, “To think about the season at this point would be kind of a wasted exercise. Now is just about 25 practices before we play a game and making the most of every day we have to work together before we open with Charlotte. In terms of the players, we’ll keep it very simple. This is as close as these guys are to NFL players. No classes. No distractions. Excited to attack each day and get a little better.”

Fordham, you’ll remember, went four seasons (2010-13) in which its league games didn’t count in the standings because it adopted merit-based scholarships while the rest of the league was operating on need-based aid.  The Rams struggled for three years, but went 12-2 in the fourth. And in 2014-16, they compiled a 16-2 league mark, winning the title in ’14 and finishing second the other two seasons.

The big shocker for the Rams in 2017 may have come against Lafayette. The Leopards came in off a 10-7 win over Holy Cross on a last-second field goal but had allowed 166 points in four losses. Fordham had an identical 1-4 record and had allowed 211 points in its four defeats. Still, the Rams figured to be the favorite.

Fordham led 10-0 after three quarters, but Leopard freshman quarterback Sean O’Malley had what might have been his best effort of the season in the fourth period, hitting 10 of 11 passes on one drive and four more on another, teaming up with Rocco Palumbo for s pair of touchdowns that produced a 14-10 victory that put Lafayette at the top of the league standings.

PRE-SEASON ALL-LEAGUE PICKS – WR Austin Longi, TE Isaiah Searight, OL Dominic Lombard, LB Glenn Cunningham, DB Dylan Mabin.
2018 LAFAYETTE GAME: at Fordham, Oct. 27, 1 p.m.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Football camp heads the grapevine chatter -- or does it?

I didn’t attend either of Lafayette’s first two preseason football camp practices, but I took a look at photos on the college website and a one-minute video featuring a miced-up head coach John Garrett. I found both interesting.

I was hoping to get some first-hand stuff from someone on the Lafayette Sports Fan Forum, but they were off doing other things, I guess. I did, however, pick up some disturbing non-football grapevine information from the LSFF guys. And eventually, I did get some unofficial gossip about the football practices.

And finally, I took a long look at the roster to see what I could come up with. Anyone can do this kind of digging if they’ve got nothing better to occupy them for part of an afternoon.

From perusing the roster on the website, and comparing it with the roster in last season’s media guide and with news releases about 2018 recruits, I came up with the following:

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Patriot League preseason football report: Colgate

The last time Colgate University opened a football season with a Patriot League game, the Raiders blew a 14-point lead and trailed Georgetown 19-14 in the final minutes and, with 5.6 seconds left, won the game on a trick play – a 2-yard pass from wideout J.B. Gerald to DeWayne Long.

“We should have lost,” Colgate head coach Dan Hunt, said, remembering that game during the Patriot League’s media teleconference last week. “They were in a take-a-knee period and fumbled and we went on to run our two-point conversion play from two-yard line and won; but if you had said after week 1, ‘you’re about to go undefeated and play for the national title,’ I’d have said, ‘You’re crazy.’ Then the next week we go out and beat Buffalo.”

Colgate did go to the championship game, where it was routed 40-0 by K.C. Keeler’s Delaware Blue Hens. 

Patriot League preseason football report: Bucknell

I listened in on the entire Patriot League teleconference call last week. While I was most interested in the Lafayette segment, I thought perhaps I could do some short preseason camp blogs about the other as well. Since the call went alphabetically, I will, too.


Jake Wilson threw two touchdown passes in Bucknell’s 2018 spring football game. John Chiarolanzio, who played in nine games last season for the Bison and finished with the most passing yards in the 2017 stats, was also competing for the starting job for 2018.

But it was Logan Bitikofer, a rising sophomore, who impressed the Bison staff the most, prompting head coach Joe Susan to name him as the starter going into preseason camp.

Speaking on the Patriot League’s teleconference call last week, Susan said Bitikofer “has the quarterback job, but there are a couple of other quarterbacks who think they have the job, too, which is exciting.”

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Leopard report from league media teleconference

Well, the 2018 college football season kicked off officially today with a teleconference featuring the seven coaches of the Patriot League.

The league used to have a nice luncheon and interview time, followed by a round of golf for the media who chose to play, at the Green Pond Country but apparently because the schedule has a different look this year, the league decided on the teleconference.

I liked being able to talk to the coaches and face-to-face and to pick up lots of good media-guide type information to get me through the year. I think the league got a pretty good bang for its buck, too, with newspaper writers and bloggers coming in and television and radio people also showing up. It was a great convenience for all.

But, there I sat, in front of my computer and with telephone and recorder at the ready anyway. Ryan Sakamoto from the league office did a great job of coordinating the thing, but it did lack the personal touch of other years.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Freeman: 'need to do a lot with a little ...' and other observations

I finally had a chance to meet Lafayette’s new director of athletics, Sherryta Freeman, at the Maroon & White football game last month. We had about 12 minutes together during halftime of the game. I’d have liked more time, but she was having a busy day.

When The Morning Call agreed to use our interview as its Newsmaker Q&A feature in Sunday’s paper, I knew there was no way everything we talked about would be covered because of space constraints. So, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on what was in print and to add to that to give Leopards’ sports fans – a passionate bunch – more to think about.

I was really interested in getting a handle on the results of the long-awaited study of the entire athletics program, which started in the fall of 2016 and had an original target date of April of 2017. That date came and went, and before anything was made public, the athletic director under whose watch it all began, Bruce McCutcheon, announced his retirement.

I was told that none of the candidates for McCutcheon’s successor was given access to the study’s findings at that point, so it wasn’t surprising when things kind of went into hibernation, giving the new department leader time to digest it.

Freeman told me she’s aiming for “the end of the summer” as the time when a new “strategic plan” will begin implementation over a period of five years. “The (old) study just gives us information; it doesn’t give us direction,” she told me. “It doesn’t tell us what we need to do. That’s what my job is,” she said.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Leopards' spring game: Cleaning out the notebook

The Lafayette College spring football game is history. I’m still uncertain what the fall has for me, but here are some random comments about the 2018 Leopards after watching them for only the second time.

I was looking for something new from the Lafayette offense, which has a new offensive coordinator-quarterbacks coach, John Van Dam, in place. There may have been a little bit more rollout in the passing game, and some of that paid dividends.

But things didn’t start out well. I was surprised to see Mike Dunn at tailback in the opening series, but since this was only my second time at practice, I wasn’t around to watch him challenge Selwyn Simpson for the job. The offense was 3-and-out in its first series; and after a false-start penalty and an intentional grounding penalty and a timeout call by the offense, it was a second straight 3-and-out.

The third series brought Nick Pearson into the game, and with a speed sweep, an end-around run and a pass completion from Sean O’Malley, Pearson finally gave the offense a lift. Angus Evans finished things off with a touchdown catch from O’Malley. The series also included a successful quick-pitch run by Simpson on a fourth-and-1. I liked that one. It also included a nice defensive play by Major Jordan, who batted down an O’Malley pass.

A fair catch was signaled on the ensuing kickoff, and we learned about a new rule for this year. A fair catch of a kickoff in the field of play puts the ball on the 25-yard line to start the series. Just another attempt at curbing some of the vicious hits on kickoffs. It’ll be interesting to see how many teams use this, and how often.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Lafayette FB: A trip to Spring camp

Offensive coordinator John Van Dam works with three qiarterbacks at spring camp./
Twelve players who were in the starting lineup the last time Lafayette’s football team played a game – and a good number of others who saw a good deal of action against arch-rival Lehigh last November – are back for 2018, but earlier this week head coach John Garrett said, “Every year, you have to put the team back together.”

What he means is after losing two dozen seniors and several others who left the program early to seek more playing time elsewhere, and after another 18 rising sophomores are coming through their first winter weight training program, are not the same.

“It’s obvious that you lose the seniors and the (2018) freshmen aren’t here yet, but everyone who’s here is a different person (than last fall),” Garrett said. “They could be 10 pounds heavier; they’re stronger, faster, so they assume different roles, too. We have to identify who can handle that and lay out expectations and challenge them to achieve on one side of the ball or some aspect of the game. They are just a year older and more comfortable with the system. They assume roles – leadership roles within a position or a certain side of ball.”

When I visited Fisher Stadium for the first time on Tuesday, the first thing that struck me was the small number of players in pads for the first time this spring. I counted heads during the pre-practice stretch and got just 18 defensive players in white and 31 others in the offense’s maroon jerseys. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Mrazek: 'a major character-building moment'

Matt Mrazek has thought about being a lawyer and a professional football player “my whole life”, and choosing which path to take after his final season at Lafayette “would have been a difficult decision no matter what,” he told me on the day on which he started his final semester at the college.

“This decision would have been more difficult had the season gone differently and had I put up numbers similar to my junior year,” the 6-4 wide receiver said.

He was on track to become Lafayette’s all-time leading pass receiver and at the same time help first-year head coach John Garrett turn around the program after it posted just three wins in 2015 2016 combined. He needed only 58 catches to pass Mark Ross for the top spot. It seemed like a no-brainer. Instead, he wound up with just 28.

“If a player has a complaint, he’s quick to be branded as selfish or something, but it was never about me,” Mrazek told me. “The whole point was I knew I could do more to help the team win. I thought we could have competed and won the league championship this year if I was used more. It was very frustrating.”

But even as the numbers on the field didn’t come – “this year was tough, without any sort of an explanation,” he said – “the more I researched (law) schools and the opportunities I would have, it just felt like the logical progression.”

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Matt Mrazek will close one door, open another

When I first learned that Matt Mrazek had been invited to participate in an NFL Pro Day at Northwestern University, I was thrilled for him.

If ever there was an opportunity for poetic justice to be administered, this was it.

After a 71-catch 2016 Lafayette football season, the 6-4 wide receiver from La Grange, Ill., who had been offered a chance to walk on with the Wildcats in 2014 but elected instead to accept a scholarship offer from Lafayette, was, through some mysterious circumstances that may never fully be explained, rendered almost invisible in the offense directed by first-year Coach John Garrett.

Twenty-eight catches, nine of them in the season opener and only 10 of them in six Patriot League games combined, were enough to put him into the No. 2 spot in career receptions at Lafayette.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The rest of the Joe & Marcia Hackman story

When Joe Hackman graduated from Eastern Mennonite University, he took a job as a teacher in a Christian school rather than going to work for his dad at Hackman’s Bible Book Store in Allentown.

“Dad never forced me to work at the store,” Joe said. “He knew the work is overwhelming. There are so many naysayers. Why don’t you do this or why don’t you do that, they say. So much criticism.”

Joe also got married, so he felt teaching might not adequately provide for him and his wife. He could no longer think only of himself. His wife Marcia’s father gave the newlyweds a piece of advice: “If you’re going to move, move now; don’t wait.” They took the counsel, and J. Walter Hackman welcomed him aboard with open arms.

“Dad immediately made me manager at age 24,” Joe said. “He wanted me to succeed. He was a tremendous encourager.”

So, did you fulfill a dream wish for your dad?