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A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Saying thanks to athletic directors everywhere

I was honored by the Oakland County Athletic Directors Association earlier this year.
The plaque thanked me “For your service, dedication and commitment to athletics in Oakland County.”
On it, my name was spelled Jim Evan.
Touche’ since I have bungled plenty of names since I started in this business in the late 1970s.
Honestly, I was very touched by the award.
I didn’t give much of a speech. It lasted about 32.45 seconds. I opted for a hurried thanks. Speaking in front of a crowd is my autographed phobia. I’d be more comfortable kissing Joan Rivers  or having an intellectual conversation with any of the Kardashians.
But my relative silence did not mean I was not appreciative. The award meant more to me than most people will ever know.
My dad was a coach and an athletic director in Walled Lake. I know how many long hours those folks put in. They get to the office early. They turn off the lights in the gym late.
Missed meals used to be wrapped in aluminum foil and reheated. Now they are put in the microwave in a Tupperware container. It’s all the same. Athletic directors and coaches miss dinner plenty.
Coaches make sacrifices. Athletic directors make sacrifices. Educators make sacrifices. They all work long hours. They do it for our kids.
I was a little kid when I realized that. My formative years were spent at practice or in the bleachers at what was then Walled Lake High School. I’d either be helping round up the basketballs, shagging baseballs, or watching a game from the far corner of the bleachers.
I loved every minute of it.
I still do.
Really, my life has not changed much, and I could not be happier. I’m still going to games. I’m still going to practices.  And, I am mostly still sitting in the far corners of gyms.
I have always had a love for high school sports. It must be genetic. Some people don’t understand the value of sports in terms of education. Granted, they might not help you get ready for the SAT or the ACT, but they sure the heck help you get ready for life.
I had countless pals who would’ve dropped out of school and gone straight to the Wixom Ford or Riley’s gas station if it had not been for sports. They begrudgingly went to math or science class. Contrast that with them sprinting to the wrestling room or the football field.
Cross country runners will tell you it takes hard work in order to succeed. That same thought is echoed through every high school locker room by countless young men and women, no matter what the sport.
Put in the miles. Or heft the weights. Or shoot baskets in the summer. Or swat baseballs in the cage. This is getting redundant. You get the point. You reap what you sow. So don’t just shrug your shoulders and say “So what?”
Sports are a good road test for life. Show up ill-prepared for a job interview and while the scoreboard won’t confirm it, you’ll be a loser. That job goes to somebody else.
Keith Dunlap of The Oakland Press was also honored at the banquet.
To reiterate, I did not give much of a speech. I am no Dale Carnegie grad. My relative silence should not be misinterpreted. I could not have been more appreciative. I grew up with high school sports. I have spent my entire adult life with high school sports.
Thanks to all of the athletic directors. Thanks especially to Brian Gordon, the athletic director at Novi High School. He used to hold that position in Royal Oak, where he also coached the varsity baseball team.
Thanks most of all to the late Tom Evans. He was an AD. He was my dad. I couldn’t speak at his funeral, either. Sorry, Pop. You didn’t raise a Toastmaster.


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