Those that know me well, know I’m not exactly what you would call a “mushy” person. This assertion is not to be confused with being sensitive, because I am that; but rather mushy as in all about hugs, and gentleness, and unicorns and pixie dust. (Okay, I made all that up, but you get the gist.)
Maybe it’s because my mental, emotional, and physical capacity is at about a 3 out of 100 with my first dissertation draft due next week. Case in point, I just texted a friend asking him if he’s seen my marbles, because I’m sure I’ve lost them. (Cue motion picture “Hook” scene below.) Or, maybe it’s because I blinked and now I’m in my mid-30’s. Regardless of reason, I find myself full of nostalgia today.
Nostalgia, “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past…” as defined by Dictionary.com.
You see, next week is going to mean lot to me, aside from the obvious elation of turning in a draft of a document that I could probably re-read and never recall whether I wrote a word in it.
Late next week, just a few short days after hitting “send”, I get to hop on a plane to one of my favorite places on earth: The ‘Ville, or Louisville, Kentucky.
The irony of timing of this trip is multi-faceted.
Ten years ago next week (wow!) I was a naive kid recently out of grad school (at the University of Louisville), newly married living in a crappy apartment and full-bore into my first “real” job…it happened to be with a little golf tournament called the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville.
|Look at those young whippersnappers at Churchill Downs!
The 42nd playing of the Ryder Cup will take place in France while I’m in Louisville, fittingly enough.
Some of my fondest memories of my time at the Ryder Cup include jumping more than 50 Cadillacs because they were so new they didn’t have enough miles on them to fully charge their batteries, the volunteer committee leaders and international volunteers I met, going on so little sleep I fell asleep on the couch in the lobby of the Brown Hotel (hmmm, sounds like dissertation writing!), the remnants of Hurricane Ivan and not realizing we were the only place on the grid that had power, the amazing team I was privileged to work alongside – one of which left us too soon, and of course, the memorable USA victory celebration!
|Proof. Part of the “Caddy Collection”
It was that experience that cemented my career in sport management, and opened my eyes to not only the sport tourism industry, but many of the wonderful folks from Louisville who I am fortunate enough to call friends to this day.
|2008 Team USA Celebration on the Valhalla clubhouse balcony.
It was that experience that spurred a little, quiet voice in me to dream up the idea to start a sports commission in Grand Junction.
It was that experience, had I not had, that would have altered the trajectory of my life.
Next week, after my dissertation goes off to review, and with some actual free time on my hands (someone will have to explain to me what that is, but I hear it’s nice), I’m going to do a few things while I’m Louisville:
First, I’m going to visit my Kentucky parents, Scott and Barb, who adopted us as their own the minute we first met.
Second, I’m going to enjoy a wonderful week of of learning from colleagues and friends in the sport tourism industry.
Third, I’m going to give back to a school I love and present my wild and real story to sport administration students at UofL.
|Photo Cred: Society19
Fourth, I’m going to drive out Shelbyville Road, to the gates at Valhalla, stop, and say a little prayer of thankfulness for the path that portion of my life has bestowed upon me, the sport and life lessons learned, and what is to come.
|Valhalla’s famous island green on 13, with the NBC chalet behind it.
Then I will smile (and probably take a much overdue nap).
Sometimes nostalgia gets a bad rap for being imaginary, or filtering out the bad. But I think it’s the accumulation of the good, the bad, the hard, the trying, the victories, the mistakes, the lessons, that give nostalgia it’s meaning, its fondness.
The second half of the word’s definition is “…typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.” Yes, yes indeed, Louisville will always be that to me. I have little pieces of Louisville, and the tournament sprinkled throughout my office as a reminder of where this crazy ride started.
|Louisville Skyline, Photo Cred: Reddit
I hope you take the time to think back on a place you hold near and dear to your heart. This is Stoll on Sports.