Sunday, April 24, 2011

Practically Perfect in Every Way

On Friday night, my family and I had the opportunity to take in Mary Poppins - The Musical at the historic Ohio Theatre in Columbus and what a fun evening it was!

For us, the story starts well before Friday night as the Disney movie version of the story has long been one of my favorites dating back to my childhood days. As I grew up and started a family of my own, it was one of the first DVDs that we purchased for our girls. At 9 and 6 years old, they have probably watched the movie close to a hundred times and love the story as much as I do. Their self-created dance routine to "Step in Time" is one that would have even Jillian Michaels gasping for air!

So, when I noticed that CAPA was bringing the show to Columbus as part of their Broadway Across America season, I was quick to purchase tickets and have looked forward for months to taking the girls to their first show. I knew this was the perfect opportunity since it was a story that they loved and everyone who had seen it had great things to say.

Well, the show certainly did not disappoint! As soon as the curtain went up and the main house on the set rolled out like a page from a pop-up storybook with people coming out of it, my daughters watched with eyes filled with awe and amazement for the next two hours and 45 minutes as the story unfolded. My oldest daughter, Ashley, would squeeze my arm tightly from time to time and offer whispered commentary about how cool this or that was, and my youngest daughter, Kylie, just sat still (which if you know her is no small feat) and with eyes as big as saucers soaked it all in.

Steffanie Leigh, who plays the title role of Mary Poppins, was outstanding. She nailed all the songs and played the character every bit as well as her movie predecessor, Julie Andrews. In fact, she might have even had a leg up on Andrews as she busted some moves in the dance routines previously unobserved from a prim and proper British nanny. :)

Nicolas Dromard, who plays Bert, the chimney sweep, also did a great job. I remember growing up wishing that I could do all the things that Dick Van Dyke did in the movie version and Nicolas took the role even farther by tap-dancing his way up the walls and across the ceiling of the Ohio Theatre during "Step in Time". I loved his comment midway through that "it's not as easy as it looks". The girls were on the edge of their seats during this part.

The entire cast did a great job with their roles, the sets and costumes were eye-popping, and the entire performance left the audience on their feet clapping along at the encore wanting more. When I asked Kylie what she thought of the show in one word, she said "Awesome!" And, Ashley summed it up best by saying that it was "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!" The Parsons' family gives it eight thumbs up - a definite must-see for the entire family!

To purchase tickets for Mary Poppins - The Musical which is in Columbus through May 8 or to find out more information about upcoming shows in the Broadway Across America series coming to town, check out the CAPA website at

Thursday, April 14, 2011

One Last Go 'Round

(Note: The following is a post by Michael Hendren, one of the students in the Sports Information Services class that I'm teaching for the first time this semester and a member of the Mount Vernon Nazarene University baseball team. The class recently had their second blog writing assignment and this is what he sent to me. I think it shows why I enjoy working in college athletics and specifically at MVNU. Let me know what you think.)

You spend your entire life playing a sport that you love and everything boils down to you having one more shot to make the most of it. Senior year of college comes and you are staring down the barrel of life after school and most importantly life after baseball. The thought is almost sickening to think that after all the time and effort spent devoting yourself to being a better baseball player, it all is coming to an end sooner than you know.

Just as important and if not more important than the time of practice and the hundreds to thousands of games you play over the span of your life in this sport, is the relationships you build with the people you spend every waking moment with when you play the great sport of baseball. For me, coming to Mount Vernon Nazarene University to continue my baseball career was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only is the tradition of winning strong, but the teammates you have year in and year out are the types of friends and companions you can only dream about. One can only imagine the amounts of fun we all have together when you put 30 guys around each other day after day. Coach has always said that it is not the games you will remember from these days, but it is the people sitting around you that you will remember until the day you die. I have to agree with him!

Everyone always says that all good things have to come to an end which I do tend to agree with, but I also have to say that as excited as I am to move on into the next stage of my life, MVNU baseball and the teammates I have gained over the years will continue to have a huge impact on who I am as a person. The lessons we have all learned from the game of baseball are incredible! From one situation to the next, Coach Keith Veale has made us all better and smarter baseball players. However, the main thing we have learned while playing here is dealing and coping with failure. I know that sounds awful, kind of like we lose every game we play which is not true at all, but the game of baseball is set up for the players to fail. The best hitters in the game only hit .300, which means they fail seven out of ten times. Learning to deal with failure is something that will continue on after school and baseball is over. You hear people say to always pick yourself back up if you get knocked down and after playing baseball for so many years, the emphasis on a cliché like that is much more important now than ever before. The life lessons I have learned are so important to me that I will apply those to my life even after I am gone from MVNU.

The title of this blog is somewhat interesting to me. Right before my senior season started this year, my dad looked at me and all he said was, “One more go ‘round, bud, make the best of it.” That is something that has been playing through my head for months now as the season has continued. Although it is sad that this is my last season, I have to look forward to what is ahead of me. God has worked in my life more this year than ever before as I have turned to Him for guidance and have wanted His will to be done for me in my life. God has a plan for me and I am excited to find out what it is. I have enjoyed everything He has blessed me with over the years. Whether baseball is in my future or a job, this last season has been a life-changing experience that I will hold onto forever.

Monday, April 11, 2011

And the Winner is...

Congratulations to Steve Wilging on claiming the coveted title as champion of the second annual Six Degrees of MVNUSID bracket contest! Steve, who is wrapping up his junior year at Mount Vernon Nazarene University and is a member of the Cougar soccer team, beat out 67 other determined competitors to claim the top spot thanks to his predicted champion, UCONN, winning the NCAA national title.

Steve successfully edged out runner-up Wade Foley, who ironically is a senior teammate of his on the MVNU soccer team, by 20 points. Wade also chose UCONN to win it all and had a 20-point lead on Steve after the first round when he correctly picked 24 of the first 32 games to Steve's 22-for-32. However, Steve had one more correct pick in the Sweet Sixteen round than Wade and that's what eventually won him the title.

Niki Murray, who serves as the community relations manager for the Washington Nationals, also had a great finish as she was the final person in my contest to correctly pick UCONN as the national champion. The Huskies' title vaulted her to third place in the contest just ahead of George Hartz, who had led the way heading into the Final Four.

While I finished in the top third of the contest in a tie for 18th place, I do have reason to celebrate as for only the ninth time in the past 19 years I was able to beat my wife (and the winner of the inaugural Six Degrees of MVNUSID contest last year), Carla Parsons. At some point in the coming days, I'll be enjoying a trip to Outback Steakhouse as she pays up. (Honestly, agree with me that a trip there is really a win for both of us.) :)

Well, thanks again to everyone who participated. I'm going to keep working on sponsors for future years to help me award more prizes. I think having a bracket contest makes the games even more fun to watch and brings more people together in a common bond. I just wish the final game would have lived up to the excitement and intrigue that the rest of the tournament contained.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Home Where She Belongs

Well, I'm a little tardy on this update, but I am pleased to report that my grandma has now been home for a little over two weeks after eight weeks in a rehab facility following her fall that required surgery for a broken femur.

While Grandma is still a long way from being fully recovered and is using a walker to get around, she is very happy to be back in the cozy confines of her own home, sleeping in her own bed, eating her own food, and petting her dog, Molly. She got home in time to watch her Ohio State Buckeyes play in the NCAA hoops tournament (albeit too short a stay for her liking) and her Cincinnati Reds get off to an exciting 3-0 start to the new season as they begin defense of their NL Central title.

As I mentioned in my last update about Grandma a month ago, I cannot even begin to say thank you enough to all of my friends, Twitter followers, and total strangers who have taken the time to drop Grandma a card. Through the wonders of social media, she has received more mail than I ever thought was possible.

In the last update, I mentioned some of the amazing things she had received from colleges, pro sports teams, and media personalities. After that update, she also got a signed commemorative basketball from Pat Summitt, the all-time winningest women's basketball coach (see above). Seems appropriate with the NCAA Women's Final Four going on to post a picture of that since Tennessee has been a frequent member of that group over the years.

However, the package that Grandma received that may have caused the biggest stir came from the star of tonight's ABC Secret Millionaire episode, Diane Heavin. If you have been following this story from the beginning, Grandma, who turns 89 later this month, broke her femur when she fell on her way to Curves for her 250th visit. Well, Curves posted my initial blog on their Facebook page and contacted me several times to check up on her throughout her rehab, so I knew that they were up to something.

Well, it turns out that Diane, the co-founder of Curves along with her husband, took the time to personally put together a package of Curves goodies to send to Grandma. Along with a water bottle, a towel, a bag to carry her workout stuff in, a necklace, some magazines and other items, there was a Curves' 300 visit shirt!

Now, Grandma and I had joked around after the initial accident that maybe if Grandma worked hard at her rehab that maybe Curves would count those daily rehab visits in the nursing home towards her Curves' visit total. Well, now that the 300 visit shirt was in her hands, she told me during one of our nightly phone calls that she was afraid that she couldn't wear it because she hadn't earned it. I decided to play dumb and asked her who the package came from. When she told me, I let her know who Diane was. Without missing a beat, she replied like only my feisty grandma can - "Well, I guess it's ok to wear it then!" :) She has also reiterated over and over and over again how glad she is that she joined Curves and how much it meant to her before the accident and how much more it means to her now. She really could be the poster child for the company.

Grandma still has plenty of work ahead of her and continues to work with a physical therapist who comes to her house as the next step is to get her using a cane instead of the walker. She is hoping to be up to taking the Buckeyes up on their offer of attending the annual spring football game on April 23 when they have generously offered to let us watch the game from the pressbox. If that happens, I'll get to make my first-ever visit to the 'Shoe with the lady who instilled my love of sports and the Buckeyes into me.

Again, I can't say thank you enough for your letters, cards, prayers, and encouragement. You have all made a big difference and my grandma, my family, and I can't show our appreciation enough!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Final Four is Really Final Two

As Butler and VCU got set to tip off the Final Four action in Houston tonight, the road to the Six Degrees of MVNUSID bracket contest title is winding down. In fact, when the final horn sounds in the Kentucky-UCONN game, the champion of my contest will be crowned. More on that later.

Once again, the NCAA Tournament has not disappointed with all the upsets, buzzer-beaters, and great performances. Whoever the marketing genious was who coined the term March Madness, deserves extra props this year as for the first time ever there are no No. 1 or No. 2 seeds in the Final Four. And, we are guaranteed that a true Cinderalla will play in the championship game on Monday with No. 8 Butler and No. 11 VCU battling it out in the semifinals for a chance at their One Shining Moment.

Taking a look at the latest standings in my bracket contest, George Hartz is still in the lead with 60-point lead or more on the rest of the 68-entrant field. George added to his lead by getting five of the eight picks right in the Sweet Sixteen games and then joined 22 other entrants in the contest to get one of the Final Four teams correct.

However, based on the possible points remaining and the current standings, there are only two possible winners remaining in this year's contest. Looking to pass George to claim the $25 gift card and the coveted bragging rights that go with it are either Josh Wood or Steve Wilging. Josh is currently in second place right behind George and has been among the leaders the entire contest. He can lock up the victory tonight if Kentucky, who is his pick as the national champion, can advance past UCONN. Matt Hannaford also picked Kentucky to win the title, but he's too far back in the standings to pass Josh.

The other person vying for the title is Steve, who has UCONN as his pick to win the title. Steve is a junior at Mount Vernon Nazarene University and a member of the men's soccer team. If UCONN beats Kentucky tonight, he will move ahead of George and Josh. Steve, Wade Foley, and Niki Murray each picked UCONN to win the national title, but Steve is currently ahead of the other two and would win it all.

So, just like most of the experts would say about the second semifinal tonight, it's for all the marbles when UCONN and Kentucky tip off at 9:23 p.m. ET. However, while the Six Degrees of MVNUSID winner will get determined tonight, don't count out those Butler Bulldogs on Monday night when they get their second straight shot at national title after coming up just inches short on a game-winner at the buzzer last year.