Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Back at the FARM

Twenty-three years later, and yet in many ways, it felt like yesterday. September on the Stanford campus is quite amazing, and not just for the weather, it’s the vibe.  I have said to many people, “Don’t send your kids on a trip to visit Stanford unless you are prepared to send them there.” The campus is extraordinary, such a tremendous amount of history at every turn, both in its architecture and its influence.  I was back at the Farm this past weekend, bringing my kids for the first time, so they could help me relive those special Stanford student moments all over again.

I must admit it was amazing! My kids don’t quite get it, and I’m kind of relieved I don’t have to worry about them turning TREE crazy just yet.  For me, it was literally a stroll down memory lane, from the swim pool to Campus Drive, around the stadium and to the Bookstore. Every single one of these places brought a smile to my face, it’s just special and I recognized it. It’s not just the geography and the scenery, it’s also the people.  In between corralling my kids, I had a chance to watch students, both new and upper classmen.  I saw parents dropping their kids off or walking the student union in awe of the moments as the first year at any college/university is amazing beyond words.  The older students were walking with such purpose.

My move-in moment went like this…I loaded my car and along with my best friend, Heather, and my parents, drove the 2.5 hours from Roseville, CA, south down to Palo Alto.  My freshman dorm was Otero in the Wilbur dorm cluster.  As it was 1990, our awesome furniture was from pre-World War II.  It was solid steel, which meant I couldn't come close to moving it, and it had a fabulous green tint to it.  It was my first space, and half of the room stood as an empty canvas.  Thank goodness I had my MJ posters to work their magic. 
I made use of every square inch of my little abode and with a few tears, said goodbye to my mom, dad and Heather. Scary to think about it now as that moment is a VERY defining moment in my life.  It’s like a crazy cocktail of extreme sadness and utter excitement with a healthy splash of anxiety. WOW, my first moment as a Stanford student brings a few tears to my eyes even now. 

I survived freshman year, barely, thank the lord for swimming. I was in WAY over my head academically, or at least I thought I was, as I just didn't seem to have the courage in the classroom the way I had them in the pool or high school.  Everyone around me was just so damn amazing!! I didn’t room with a swimmer, although Karen did join the water polo team and was super dedicated. Stanford makes it a point to pool all freshmen together for random pairings.  So, it was only by chance if an athlete roomed with an athlete during their first year.  And every weekend, it was all about Stanford football.  We had “Touchdown Tommy”, John Lynch, Glynn Milburn and Steve Stenstrom to name a few.  We had reasons to cheer, and no matter how hard practice was that Saturday morning, we were there for our team on game day.  The seats were wooden and the stadium was not quite as posh as some others, but we didn’t care. It was all about the power of that single letter “S” and being as loud as we could.

On game day this past Saturday, I looked up into the stands and watched the freshmen looking to their upperclassmen for some game cheering guidance.  They have now named the student section, “Nerd Nation”, and those nerds make some noise. It was beautiful college football noise that makes a difference in the game, and it was much louder than my era. (Sorry nerds of the ‘90’s) I was on the field watching the team that I had just spoken to three hours before as their honorary captain, they were getting focused, ready and amped out of their heads.  I felt small.  And I was.  Kids are bigger now…seriously, I said to coach Shaw, “When you introduced me and the team stood up, I felt like a toddler.” Impressive not just in stature, but in the level of respect they show to everyone, themselves included.  I was curiously nervous to talk to the fellas wondering how a 40-year-old mom of two could relate to the incredible Stanford student-athlete of today.  My 7 minutes in front of the guys flew by way too fast.  I wanted to tell them so much more than I did, and when I was done my hands were shaking. I could barely hold myself steady as many of them came up to give me a hug. And that is when it hit me. 

Respect.  Once you wear that Stanford “S”, it doesn’t matter what year it was, how old you are, or how many kids you've popped out, you can transport yourself right back to that stage of life like a superhero. Yep, for about five glorious hours, I was a 19-year-old Stanford swimmer cheering on my football team. Only this time, I was on the sidelines fist pumping those giant men after a great play.  Pinch me now…I still don't believe it.
 I reminisced and loved it.

The end result of my Stanford weekend was a first half on the field, a second half in the stands with my family, and a Sunday morning to soak it all up. And I sopped it up like a full stack of pancakes with pure maple syrup.  Every sweet moment I could take in on campus I did, and it made me love Stanford even more.  It made me cherish that time in my life. Every memory still brings such joy to my face and a giggle in my heart. Magical moments that I will never forget and maybe some day my kids will fully understand.  Maybe. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Rookie Sport Parent

Striving for completely slicked back hair.


Rookie sport parent

I may be an “expert” in swimming, but due to the time I spent acquiring that title, I’m quite clueless on how other sports work and train…which makes me like every other parent…Olympian or not. I am a full-on rookie sport parent, and I’m loving every second of it.  Well, sort of…