What my father taught me about volleyball | VailDaily.com

What my father taught me about volleyball

Chris Freud

I still hear my father’s voice even though it’s been nearly 15 months since he died.

Pop’s always telling me to plan ahead for every conceivable contingency. He’s asking after Mom and making sure I’m looking after her. He’s always asking me if I’m doing OK, be it money, eating enough ” like that’s a problem for Freud males; he weighed somewhere near 300 pounds ” and generally making sure I’m doing the right thing.

I think our conversations, and they are conversations because I have no hesitation in talking back just as I did when he was alive, reached the peak of absurdity this summer when I was playing golf. Pop was telling me which club I should use for a shot and that I was using the wrong-colored house as an aiming reference.

This was a problem on so many levels. An accomplished attorney of 40 years, Pop had to ask me who this Tiger Woods guy was when the best golfer in world became his client. There’s also the issue that I am sadly an absolute jock compared to my father. Nothing resembling athleticism runs in our family. He played nine holes once in his life and shot a 108.

Did I mention he was color blind? God only knows at what he thought I was aiming.

I pulled my 9-iron, put my golf ball on the green and told him to shut up. Chris 1, Pop 0, on that count in our loving yet competitive relationship.

I’ve missed him every day since Aug. 18, 2006, and I suppose that our conversations are a way for me to assure him that I am doing all right now that he’s gone. And I’d bet that our chats are part of the constant struggle for a son to make sure he’s measuring up in the eyes of his father.

When he was alive, and more so after he died, I constantly compare myself to him. It’s not easy. My college years were an unqualified disaster in Pop’s eyes. The well-known exchange between Chris Farley and David Spade in “Tommy Boy” comes to mind.

“You know, a lot of people go to college for seven years,” Farley says.

“I know. They’re called doctors,” Spade replies.

Pop went to Yale for undergrad and law school in seven years. I came out in the same time with my B.A. in journalism. Pop made more money than I’ll ever see. He built a family, though we’d both agree that he lucked out when Mom said, “Yes.” I’m still single, and so on.

What I’m coming to know is that I’m Chris Freud, not Nick Freud, and on the better days, I’m able to realize that it’s not an issue of being “better” than my father, but just being me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this since I interviewed the seniors of Battle Mountain’s volleyball team for a feature before last weekend’s state tournament. I was asking Alexa Corcoran what it was like to replace Britney Brown as the team’s setter.

She candidly replied, “I definitely had to accept the fact that I wasn’t Britney Brown.”

This was the challenge all year for Huskies volleyball. The overly-simplistic way of looking at things was that Corcoran was the new Brown; Kori Landauer was playing the role of Crystin Rodrick; Devon Abbott’s now Nicole Penwill and Jen Thul is Sofia Lindroth.

This is unfair to both the 2006 and 2007 Battle Mountain volleyball teams. You cannot simply put in x for y and assume that things will go merrily along. Plus, it would get really confusing for me because these machinations make Hannah Ellison the new Abbott, who’s the new Penwill and Kelsey Plath the new Landauer, who’s now meant to be Rodrick. This is what we call “Sports Writer Hell.”

Taking a state title with such perceived ease ” last year’s team, the four current seniors included, worked tirelessly for the crown ” is the exception to the norm. As we saw at the Denver Coliseum last weekend, the competition among elite teams vying for the state crown is extreme, the line between those who advance and those who go home so thin.

The astute sports analysis you’ll get from me on what supposedly went wrong during this year’s state tournament is “Dem’s duh breaks.” The Huskies played superbly and just came up short against two excellent teams. Life isn’t fair, a point Pop drummed into me early and often.

I’m not saying this to try to make people feel better after the tournament. It’s a reality. Battle Mountain is blessed to have an exceptional group of young ladies who played magnificently all season.

Of course, it’s easier to see that from the outside, instead of when one is in the moment. The Huskies indeed wore their black and gold in 2007 with great aplomb.

Take my word for it as one who knows what it’s like to follow a tough act. Unlike my father, I’m not color blind.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.

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