Thursday, November 20, 2008
Our family trip to Kansas
|I am on a plane in flight home from a weekend college tour with my youngest daughter, Jill. What a great experience it was. My father-in-law went to the University of Kansas and played football there in the 1948 Orange Bowl. He is a die-hard Jayhawk, and we personally have a fun rivalry. I moved from Chicago to Kansas City to start high school and attended college at Kansas State on a baseball scholarship. Although I met my wife when I moved to California after college, there is irony in my similar background to her father. My oldest daughter Jaime attended USC after high school graduation and although Jill may do the same, she is open to exploring different schools and experiences outside of California. That was our basis for our weekend to Kansas!
My father-in-law wanted to make this a memorable weekend and potentially recruit some KU Jayhawks from Southern California. What initially started as a weekend trip that included my wife, daughter, father-in-law, mother-in-law and me, soon grew threefold. First, my wife’s sister, husband and two children, both high school juniors, decided they would come and check out the campus. Then my daughter invited two of her friends and fellow cheerleaders at Tesoro High School, plus two of her male friends that are football all-stars at Tesoro. Tesoro is an 8-0 team this season and ranked the top high school team in Orange County. The guys wanted to check out the football program. Oh, did I mention that the two moms of the cheerleaders decided they wanted to come and be part of the fun? Our group from the Golden State, now totaled 15 as we headed to America’s heartland. What made their weekend even more special was that it was the University of Kansas vs. Kansas State football game rivalry. We would all attend the game, and both my father-in-law and I could wager on behalf of our alma maters for bragging rights.
As I now fly home, I cannot describe the inner joy and satisfaction I feel from the time spent with family, friends and loved ones. The Californian’s were able to experience the excitement of a traditional college football rivalry in the Big 12 Conference and explore a beautiful campus with old brick and limestone buildings nestled on top of a hill, overlooking the Kansas River. The weather was unusually cooperative for this time of year – in the 70s during the day and 60s in the evening. Despite the warm weather, the glory of the Midwestern fall surrounded us with leaves of gold and orange on the forested slopes of the university and valley below. The boys got to meet the coaching staff (my father-in-law arranged it through his connection) before the big game and met some of the players. The girls were able to meet with the cheerleading coach and some of the squad after the game. We drove around campus and saw the magnificent homes and stately lawns of the fraternities and sororities of KU. Of all the colleges I have visited, I think none equal the size and beauty of Greek system housing here.
Out of the seven high schoolers in our group, who knows if any will actually go to school at KU. Driving to the airport, I surveyed the teenagers and the results were interesting; one said KU is his first choice, all four girls said it’s a maybe, one boy said maybe and one said he wants to stay in California. An interesting survey, I thought, from six California-born-and-raised kids and one football player who actually lived in Kansas City when he was younger.
Tomorrow, I go back to the office to meet the business challenges we face today in a struggling economy and uncertain real estate market. I love my job and the people I work with, but I have to say that all of us need to recharge our soul and revisit our past like I did this weekend. Seeing the university through the eyes of my daughter and her high school friends allowed me to revisit a part of my past long lost. It was good to have it back – if only for a few days.