I'm sorry that there have been no posts since late Friday night. I've just returned from a reunion of my mother's family, the Birkenbach clan, in Monett, Mo.
We had a great time with my 92-year-old Aunt Mildred and all my cousins who, somehow, have all turned into old people!
We spent Sunday with my family in Fayetteville, all of whom I knew I was going to see on Saturday and Sunday but I had no idea I'd see on Friday night at the Salt Bowl.
What a stunning surprise![more]
I am extremely grateful to all those who had anything to do with the halftime shenanigans. It was far more attention on me than I'm comfortable with, but it was an honor to receive the "Rob Patrick Award" — three words I never dreamed would be used in one phrase.
Of course, I knew I was going down to the field at halftime for something, reluctantly. But not for that, not with them.
For those that were not there and are as appropriately oblivious about it as I was before it happened, Bryant athletic director Tom Farmer presented the first such award to me at halftime and he worked with my wife Jan to make sure all of my family was there for it including my parents. My youngest brother Jon drove them down from Fayetteville for the occasion that afternoon. Mom just turned 79 in July, dad turns 79 in October. They're not as strong as they used to be but they're just as sweet and supportive as ever.
We all then drove back to Fayetteville on Saturday and on to Monett. It was a wearing weekend on the folks.
I'm so blessed.
The "Rob Patrick Award" — that sounds like a bad note from my daughter Kate's clarinet, something you hear so rarely it takes you aback. The plaque Tom presented is apparently going to be an annual award presented "in appreciation of . . . hard work and dedicated effort in promoting all the Bryant Athletic programs throughout the years."
It's humbling to think that anyone values my work to such an extent.
Congratulations, also, to Donnie Burks, who was honored in similar fashion by Benton athletics.
Two brief stories:
Jan gives me a hard time about being so averse to the limelight while being in a line of work — media — so much of which is about being in the limelight. I admit it's ironic but my sister, Jodi, finally gave me a good answer for that. I've always tried to stay behind the scenes. I had my chance to do TV way back when and never took to that. I was in radio for many years and, though my voice may have become well known, there was still a certain amount of anonymity. In newspaper, I always tried to observe and report.
Now, with the website, I have to make myself promote, which is fine as long as I'm promoting BryantDaily.com and not me.
By now, some may be thinking that all this just doesn't ring true, that it may sound a little disingenuous. So be it. I've really tried hard much of my life to stay positive, to give people the benefit of the doubt and, if I'm naive, that's the way it goes. I had my bout with cynicism and ego earlier in my life and I was miserable and everyone around me was too. I chose to avoid that. It was, is and will be my choice.
To conclude, I go back to when I first came to Saline County in the late '80's. I was covering Benton sports then for the Courier. (I had an assistant for a while named Martin Couch, who covered Bryant, and it's great to have him back working with me on BryantDaily.com.) At the end of one season, they had a banquet and they surprised me then with a plaque of appreciation.
(Common denominator: Tom Farmer was the head coach of the Benton Warriors freshman team back then.)
Anyway, they made me say something at the podium and what I said then still holds today:
"I'm just doing my job."
Again, thanks to all involved, especially Coach Farmer, and all of you who visit BryantDaily.com.
Now, enough about me. How 'bout them Hornets!