Monday, September 26, 2016

My Memories of 'A Great One" who passed away in Latrobe, PA

An Editorial
Memories of Arnold Palmer in the 60's are fresh in my misty eyes on the news of his passing. I started playing golf because of him. I could not get enough of him. I can remember being at the barber shop reading about him in Sports Illustrated. Pictures of him smoking a cigarette between his lips and eying a putt with that blue collar look are still fresh in my mind after 55 years. He was everything I wanted to be. He was a piece of my life during my influential days.

I was from a blue collar family. My father was a factory worker who never graduated from high school. My mother was a nurse the 3-11 shift to make ends meet for our family. It is that blue collar upbringing that is the soul of my character. Because of it, I fell in love with two games in my life, football and golf. Arnold Palmer inspired me to travel to Philadelphia and watch him in the US Open. He was not playing well. But the crowds, Arnies Army were still following him and not the leaders. I remember a spectator yelling to us to go watch the leader play. Why are you following Arnie? Well the truth is, it did not really matter how he was playing. It was just fun to watch him. He still gave every shot all that he had. He would not leave anything on the golf course. He always gave it his all.

In golf as in life, Mr. Palmer as most called him, was confident without being arrogant. He was passionate in golf, as a pilot and in business. Can you imagine a super star learning how to pilot an aircraft? He used it to go back and forth to golf tournaments like walking up and driving a car? If he decided to do something, he did it to win, to succeed, to the best he could be, to make a difference. Flying an airplane was one of those challenges that he mastered by working hard. So it is that risk taking attitude, that adventure for life that has inspired me more than a little. So I also fell in love with flying, enjoyed being in the air, getting my private pilots license and flying around in North Central PA. I remember my first cross country required flight to Latrobe, Pa. getting my logbook signed by the airport manager. I was in Arnie country. Mr. Palmer, I treasure your inspiration to me. He is gone, but the legacy he built continues.

You ask what does this have to do with Lycoming Football? Well, my passion and love for DIII football and especially Lycoming Football has developed over the years. People like head coach Frank Girardi and defensive coach Steve Wiser have some of Mr. Palmer's qualities. Being around hundreds of wonderful Lycoming football players from the past have influenced me. Watching them all being confident without being arrogant and being successful on and off the field is infectious. It gets into your blood like a disease. You can't shake it. So at times like this I get a little sentimental, a little misty eyed. Lycoming College has been a key to my success in life. They gave me a chance to succeed in life. A blue collar worker, the son of a factory worker who had to quit high school to help put food on the table. I have those roots, Lycoming College football roots. And I took that work ethic, that heritage and gave it my all to the best of my ability. I took what I have learned and put it into practice. I am so grateful for the influence of Lycoming College.

So on this week building up to Homecoming Weekend with a big game against Widener, I challenge my football friends, coaches and players to reflect on what Lycoming has meant to you. Pride, passion and confidence without arrogance should be etched in our hearts. Reflect on what can be done without fear. You don't see that in some MAC schools, but I hope it continues here.

Finally, I am just so lucky to be able to watch all of these young men come, play football. They will learn values that will be with them for the rest of their lives. You, the players who sweat, work and play are the reason I have fallen in love with Lycoming Football. Never forget it is you, each of you who can make a difference. You are the greatest! Go Warriors!

PS: In memory of those fallen Warriors who passed away way too soon! May God richly bless your families, until we meet all meet again.


John Green