Put Me In Coach, I’m Ready to Play

Bollig_JeffIntro from Alana:

Yesterday, I re-introduced you to my friend, Laurie Bollig.  Today, meet the other half of the Bollig crew, Jeff.  Jeff is the Director of Marketing/Public Relations for Acendas Travel. He and Laurie have two children, daughter Courtney, a graduate student at George Washington University and son Kyle, a junior at the University of Kansas.

Jeff grew up in Hays, Kansas, and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas and graduate diploma from Wichita State University. He likes to write, is an amateur landscaper and enjoys sports. He has written two books on University of Kansas Athletics and works on the scoring table for Kansas and Big 12 Conference Tournament men’s basketball games.

He has been an active volunteer for numerous volunteer and philanthropic events for his church, children’s schools, the Olathe School District, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City among others. The Bolligs have lived in the Kansas City metro area since 1990 and enjoy what the community offers for the family. Their favorite memories include youth sports, Theatre in the Park, high school football games and musicals, the Plaza Lights, games at the K, the pure excitement of Allen Fieldhouse, the beauty of the changing seasons, March Madness and the friendly and caring attitude of the people.  You’ll love his story of childhood memories from his uncle’s barbershop chair.  Please welcome Jeff Bollig!

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Centerfield” by John Fogerty.  Guest Post by Jeff Bollig.

Sports has been an integral part of my life from my days as a little leaguer, to my professional career, to my family time, to my leisure activities.

Over the course of my life, I have found sports to be a great teacher about the value of relationships:

  • The coach-athlete relationship offers a mentor-mentee dynamic.
  • The power of collaboration, setting of objectives, preparation and goal attainment is fostered by the team framework.
  • Leadership is manifested by those – coach, captain, administrator, owner, etc. – who inspire others.
  • Community is built by fans who have a shared passion and affinity for their teams.

This viewpoint has crystalized over time, but I remember that sports as platform for relationship building was instilled at an early age. As a part of routine, I would hop in the passenger side of my dad’s yellow Ford pickup truck on Saturday mornings and we would head to town to run a variety of errands. We’d always end our morning at my uncle’s barbershop.

This was quintessential small-town Americana. Everyone knew everyone. The barbershop served as the epicenter for people to rehash the past week and preview the upcoming days. While no rule explicitly prohibited women, I only remember men (mostly fathers and sons) sitting in chairs that lined three of the walls. If you got there early enough, you could sit in the two unoccupied barber chairs.

There was so much talking that my uncle did not get much hair cutting done. In fact, he spent most of his time with a contraption strapped to the back of his hand that would vibrate. It was perfect for giving scalp, neck and shoulder massages to the men as a means to relieve the stress of the previous work week.

I loved my Uncle John’s barbershop. He always had a good supply of sports magazines and comic books. He rigged his soda machine so the kids could get free drinks. The coffee pot was always on. On those Saturday mornings, the conversations would touch upon a plethora of topics: politics, religion, business, current events, etc.  There would also be the more practical discussion such as repairing car brakes, hanging sheetrock and where to invest money. But it would always come back to sports. From little league baseball to high school football to college basketball to the pros. Sports is what brought them together. Voices would get raised, but friendships were never in danger.

John Fogerty said he wrote the song “Centerfield” because his favorite baseball players were Duke Snider, Willie Mays and Joe DiMaggio – all of whom played centerfield. To Fogarty, centerfield was the center of the universe. The lyrics to the song have him asking his coach to put him in, because he was “ready to play” and compete and live his dream.

I look back with great fondness on those Saturday mornings at my Uncle John’s barbershop. They helped me to be “ready to play.”

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