Since today is Mother's Day I want to take a minute to thank and honor two very special women who both died of cancer and who I miss very, very much.
The first is my mom, Jeanne Stricklin. While it was my dad who taught me how to play and to compete, it was my mom that made it possible. Quick example: One summer while Dad was working as a commercial fisherman in Alaska, Mom decided that I should sign up for my very first pee wee basketball league at Siglar Park, which was located on the other side of town. The fact that she didn't have a driver's license or know how to drive a car at the time was just a mere inconvenience. When it came time to go to the park we got into my dad's VW Bug and proceeded to drive the entire way while staying in first gear and only making right hand turns. It took forever but somehow we got there! Imagine slowly driving all the way around the block in order to avoid making a single left hand turn and then repeating the process over and over until we methodically made our way cross town one big circle at a time. She eventually learned how to drive and over the next several years she must have driven me and my brothers to thousands of practices, hundreds of games, and even to a few Emergency Rooms. Mom was never an athlete herself and never really completely understood all the little ins and outs of the sports I first played, later coached, and always loved but it didn't matter. If it was important to us then it was important to her! Every once in a while I still catch myself reaching for my phone so I can call her.
Jeanne Schell was an elderly widow who lived by herself across the street from UCC. After a year of enduring my persistent badgering she finally agreed to rent a room to one of my players. Lisa moved in and another one started to hang out there. Then that one moved in too and another started to hang out. Before everything was said and done, Jeanne added on to her house and over 40 girls lived with her while playing on our team. She sat right behind our bench at every home game, hosted annual team meetings and dinners, and met every potential player who came on a recruiting trip. The News Review even wrote a feature story about her called Jeanne Schell's House of Hoops. Each year I can't help but think, "Mrs. Schell would have loved this team". . . .mainly because she loved all of them!
I could write pages and pages about these two women. It's amazing how much success and happiness can be attributed to a great set of Jeanne's!!