Non-football memories

2013-06-19T18:00:00Z 2013-07-05T14:41:20Z Non-football memoriesBy CLIFF KIRKPATRICK, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

I spent some time reviewing my top 10 best Oregon State football memories, so it's time to go down memory lane for non-football events. 

The top two are obvious, the 2006 and 2007 College World Series trips. The national championships were the greatest events I've ever covered.

They were such great events, a book should be written about the rise of the OSU baseball team. Oh wait, I did that. So read about the program and my personal thoughts in my book. You can get it online here, or you can pick one up at Corvallis book stores. 

No. 3 was writing the book last fall. Reliving those events -- rereading the stories I wrote and talking with the key people such as Pat Casey and Darwin Barney were great experiences. 

Interviews went like old friends chatting, not official interviews. The one I did with Casey was powerful. It happened during football season and coaching fall baseball for my son. 

It is my first book. At times it was difficult making time for writing in airports, hotels and the middle of the night. Overall, it was worth it. Those who have read the book like it, so thanks. It wasn't done to make money, but for the passionate readers. 

No. 4 was the bad weather near Washington State. Back when I traveled for men's basketball, I dreaded the Washington trip since I grew up driving on dry Southern California roads.

Well, there's a lot of snow around Pullman during January and February. Here are some experiences on the road. 

One time I was writing in my hotel room and looked out the window. I thought someone dumped buckets of snow off the roof. I looked closer and realized they were the biggest snow flakes ever.

Soon after that I had to drive from Moscow, Idaho, to Pullman. So I watched for the snowplow to go through and followed it to WSU. Driving on the hilly campus with ice and snow is adventure.

On the trip from Spokane to Pullman I drove along the two-lane road through the rolling hills. I saw vast white off to my right side, so I decided to get out and look closer. 

When I went to the side all I saw was white from every corner of my eyes from the white clouds and white fields all around. It was an odd view and feeling that stuck with me. 

Another time I woke up in my Spokane hotel after a snow storm. I looked out my window to my car and it was gone. Then I saw that it was completely under snow. 

After digging it out, I had to drive to the airport. Again, I followed a snowplow. Getting closer to the airport, I saw people de-icing the planes as more snow fell. It didn't look good to get home on time. I watched from the terminal as plows cleared the runway for a takeoff and did it again for a landing.

I always made it home without major incident. I've been fortunate that way.

No. 5 was covering gymnastics. Why, well the Beavers are very good, the coaches were great to work with and I enjoyed dealing with every gymnast. It's a strange sport in that it's judged.

A team can have it's greatest night and lose, but still be happy and move up in the rankings.

OSU fans are passionate and pack Gill Coliseum. Readers have asked me why it's so popular. The answer is simple: You can't do what they do.

Anyone can play soccer, basketball or even football just for fun. You can't do gymnastics for fun. People like to watch what they can't do and be impressed.

No. 6, and the final one, is very personal. The thing I'll remember most the last nine years is coaching youth baseball for both my sons. There were many tournament and season championships at various levels, but that's not what it was about.

There were some long fall weekends after covering football games, traveling back to town at the extreme early morning hours to coach a doubleheader and get back to work that night. It was all for the game, and the love of my sons.

I met some great parents and players. Richard Smith, my longtime assistant, was the perfect person to work beside. I'll be following all those players as they move on to the older levels, high school and hopefully into college. Hopefully, I helped them in some way.

Cliff Kirkpatrick covers Oregon State sports for the Gazette-Times. He can be reached at cliff.kirkpatrick@lee.net.

 

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