When I was in grade school I played on my grade school’s basketball team. I played from 5th grade to 8th grade. I wasn’t very tall then…nor very big…nor very good for that matter. But I practiced regularly with the team, hustled, went to the games, and mostly sat at the end of the bench during those games. Occasionally I would get a chance to play at the end of the games if we were ahead or behind by a bunch of points, but not very often.
I was disappointed that I wasn’t taller, or bigger, but I couldn’t change those things.
I was disappointed that I wasn’t better, but worked hard in practice to try to be better.
I was disappointed that my coaches didn’t give me more opportunities to play in the games, but I had little control over that either.
All I could do was hustle hard in practice, and hope the coaches cared enough about me to give me some chances to play. So that’s what I did.
And while I didn’t get much playing time, I sense my coaches appreciated my positive attitude and how hard I tried.
At the end of one of the seasons, I think it was my 6th grade year, we had a basketball banquet where the players received recognition awards.
At the end of the awards presentations for our team, the MC announced that they had one last award to present: the NBA Award. I imagined it was like an MVP Award and would go to one of the very good basketball players on our team. As the MC wrapped up the introduction for the NBA Award, he explained that the “NBA” stood for “Nice Boy Award” …. and then he called out my name! The crowd applauded. I was very surprised, and a bit embarrassed, as I was pressured to get up and go accept the award. I did reluctantly.
When I got back to our table, and for the next couple days, I received jeers from my peers about being a “nice boy”. It was a bit embarrassing to be so called by your 6th grade male peers. 6th grade boys can be cruel with their teasing.
I felt embarrassed and resentful about being presented with that award.
But I kept it and still have it today. Here is a picture of it and the placard that it displays.
I imagine I WAS a nice boy.
And I grew up to be a nice guy too.
The stigma of being a nice guy isn’t such a good one. After all, nice guys finish last.
But I couldn’t change who I was…and wouldn’t want to.
For a long time I didn’t see much benefit in being the nice guy – except for the award that collected dust in a box in the basement.
At least until I met a nice girl – the nicest. I mean if there was a Nice Girl Award, she would be the winner.
Now it all makes sense: Me -the nice boy; Her -the nice girl.
We were meant for one another.
Isn’t that nice?
Nice isn’t so bad after all. It’s kinda … well … nice!
Last year I introduced the world to my Private Parts. (My comic strip, that is – what were you thinking?!?!). It was a fun comics series where we followed the misadventures of Private Parts, a naive and incompetent army private, as he trained for an important military mission ordered by the president. I hope to get back to making more comics in that series someday, but lately I have invested more energies into my Edventures With Ed comic strip, and recently True Love Is….
My newest comic strip series features one of the characters from the Private Parts series – Major Cramps – as she makes her monthly visit to stay with Leslie.
Leslie is as hospitable and tolerant of Major Cramps as she can be…but it ain’t easy! Major Cramps is to Leslie what Major Setback is to Private Parts – a cruel, merciless, sadistic and subversive antagonist who will stop at nothing to stop our protagonist from living in peace.
Major Cramps is a funny series and innovative look at a woman and what she deals with in her monthly menstrual cycle, as personified in Major Cramps.
Ladies, I think you may appreciate this one — Major Cramps is going to be funny…period.
You can “Follow” Major Cramps, and all Ed Novick Comics, by clicking on the “Follow” button at https://EdNovickComics.wordpress.com/. Then you will receive each comic by email each weekday and not miss a single one.
(Originally posted on December 13, 2012 3:18PM by the Southtown Star at http://southtownstar.suntimes.com/neighborhoodstar/oakforest/16338719-521/coachs-qa-presents-mike-cline-bremen-baseball.html and attributed to Steve Millar)
Coach’s Q&A presents: Mike Cline, Bremen baseball
Mike Cline, Bremen baseball coach. Mike Cline has been coaching baseball at Bremen for 18 years, the last six as the head coach. He is also an assistant football coach for the Braves.
What’s your background in your sport, as a player?
I started playing baseball when I was 4 years old. I also played football and basketball. In high school, I was All-Conference in football and baseball, and the starting point guard on the varsity basketball team for three seasons. I played baseball at South Suburban College for Steve Ruzich. He was and still is a master coach!
When did you begin coaching and what was your first job?
I began my coaching career in 1992. I was a senior in high school and coached a Little League team. My first paying job in coaching was as the Bremen freshman coach in 1994.
What inspired you to go into coaching?
The late Howie Minas and my childhood neighbor Dave Kroener inspired me to coach baseball. Also, Bob Schmidt and many professional scouts and Midlothian White Sox players like Mike Lenti, Wink Cole, and Paul Stevens (the head coach at Northwestern) were a huge influence on me.
Are there any coaches you look up to, or did when you first started coaching?
I always looked up to my high school football and baseball coaches John Casson, the great John D’Ambrosio, Dale Augustine, Brad Johnson, Bob Hancock, TJ Johnson, Johnny Kramer, Stevie Krause, Ken Scott, Joe Powers, Joe Sparry, Steve Ruzich, Jeff Struebing, and, of course, my little league coach — the legendary Ed Novick.
I also respect the skills of Jimmy Leyland, Tony LaRussa, Billy Martin and Earl Weaver as managers in baseball.
What’s been your favorite moment as a coach?
My favorite moment as a coach was coaching my son Charlie’s baseball team to back-to-back championships. Younger kids are so impressionable and they worked so hard to win those titles! He makes me a proud father!
What’s the best game you’ve ever coached in?
That would have to be the game when my Bremen team broke the losing streak against Oak Forest in 2010. It was 31 games in a row we had lost to Oak Forest, or to put it into a better perspective, a 15-year-old streak. To win that game for all the great Bremen coaches that had great chances to end that streak prior to 2010 and fell short was a special moment.
Is there one game you look forward to every year? One opponent you enjoy playing?
We really enjoy playing Oak Forest. It is a baseball town and they always have a talented team. We recently started playing them at Standard Bank Stadium so that adds even more significance to the rivalry.
What changes have you seen in high school sports, if any, in recent years?
The biggest change has been the change in baseball to the BBCOR bats, which limits home runs. The game is being played as a more true game now with an emphasis on pitching, defense and manufacturing runs.
Personally, if cost was not an issue I would love to see the use of wood bats. There is nothing sweeter than the sound of the crack of the ball off a wooden bat. Well one thing, of course my wife Jamie is sweeter!
If you were in charge of the IHSA and could change one thing, what would it be?
I would propose to put the powerful Catholic teams into their own class.
It would be a great justice to the game of baseball. It is just too difficult for a public school with definitive boundaries that cannot recruit to consistently compete with schools that can recruit student athletes from anywhere — in some cases even Indiana — to attend their school.
Once a public champ and Catholic champ are crowned then a head-to-head game between two state champs would be exciting and a great draw!
What are you most proud of as a coach?
I am very proud that our student-athletes have been Academic All-State for four consecutive seasons and that 15 players in my five seasons have gone on to play college baseball. I am most proud to be a Bremen Brave!
One year ago today, Leslie, Tess, Canyon and I went to the Eyes To The Skies festival in Lisle, IL. We wanted to go to a concert there to listen to two of my favorite cover bands – Chicago Tribute Anthology (Chicago) and Reely Dan (Steely Dan), then to watch the 4th of July fireworks there. It was a beautiful night for music in the park.
We ended up sitting at the top of the hill at the natural outdoor music amphitheater. The grounds were full of people gathered to listen to the music. There was almost no room to spread out our blankets on the ground. We went all the way up to the top of the hill. At the top of the hill was a giant inflatable beaver. We found a spot near the beaver and sat just below it.
Then we had some fun with it. We took several funny still photos posed as if this giant inflatable beaver was a real giant Godzilla-sized beaver and we were scrambling for our lives to get away from it. Later, I “Ed”-it it into this fun video movie trailer.
The music and fireworks were wonderful, and it was a fun evening and 4th of July memory to make with Leslie and the kids.
I am happy to announce my recent engagement to Miss Leslie Thomas.
Leslie and I have been together for over two years. Impediments in our being married have recently been cleared, and I appreciate Leslie’s patience with and support through it.
I am a very lucky, happy and blessed man.
Ours is a very special love story and romance that I can’t wait to write and share more about in the future.
I am seldom at a loss for words, but you may have been wondering why I haven’t posted any recent stories on my blog. We have been busy making plans for our future together.
I asked Leslie to marry me on June 2nd and Leslie accepted my proposal. It looked something like this.
We went for an evening walk like we have many times before these past two years. Only this time I had the engagement ring I had chosen for Leslie with me ready for that special moment. On our walk through the park by her home – where Love first cascaded down on us from above like a waterfall – we sat on the park bench where we first shared words that we loved one another. After sharing reflections of our love these past two years, I got down on one knee and asked Leslie to marry me. She accepted.
Here we are in our first photo together as a happy engaged couple taken later that night.
Leslie has been the source of inspiration to me for a very long time. She is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known and one of the best people I’ve known, in a lifetime blessed by exceptional people around me. She has been loving and supportive in ways that exceed my comprehension. I can only imagine that our love has been a miraculous gift from above in answer to thousands of prayers and wishes of the heart. My recent work on Ed Novick Comics has been largely inspired and vigorously encouraged by Leslie. She has been a beacon of hopeful light in my life for several years, and I am excited to look forward to a life with her in it.
Leslie is also a talented writer and poet, and she too shares my love of God, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith. Leslie writes beautiful devotionals and has shared some of them publicly where you can read them on her blog at https://fittedfeet.wordpress.com/.
The wedding is being planned for later this year.
I appreciate all the support and encouragement from family and friends, and look forward to a life with Leslie at the heart of it.
The Lord is good, merciful and generous to those who love and follow Him!
I’m very excited! My alma mater, Lewis University, has their men’s volleyball team playing in the NCAA National Championship game tonight! Spread the word! Share this story!
That’s right, people – small, but mighty, Lewis University out of Romeoville, IL (southwest Chicago suburb), of less than 7000 students, is in the finals of the NCAA national volleyball tournament.
The game tonight, May 9th, at 8:30pm CST, will be broadcast on ESPNU or ESPN3 (or, “The Tres”, as I like to call it). The game is being played at Maples Pavilion in Stanford, California.
Lewis is 27-3 this season (game-by-game schedule/record) and is ranked #2 in the nation behind Loyola. Their only losses came to BYU and Ohio State during the regular season, and to Loyola in the tournament. Lewis beat Loyola twice during the regular season. Now, in the National Collegiate Championship, Lewis will get a chance to avenge their loss to Loyola, the defending National Champions, as they will play them for the fourth time this season with the National Title on the line.
Lewis beat Penn State in the semi-finals to advance to the finals. During the regular season they beat such teams at Stanford, Harvard, and Ohio State.
There is also a “watch party” for Lewis Alumni at Buffalo Wild Wings in Romeoville, IL. If you’re in the area consider coming out and cheering on the Flyers.
Lewis University Press Release about the game : http://www.lewisu.edu/news/newsarticle.htm?PArticleID=10065#.VU3xbo5Viko
Lewis University Web Site : http://www.lewisu.edu/
About Lewis University: http://www.lewisu.edu/welcome/facts.htm
Lewis University History: http://www.lewisu.edu/welcome/history.htm
Lewis Flyers Men’s Volleyball: http://www.lewisflyers.com/index.aspx?path=mvball&tab=volleyball
NCAA Men’s Volleyball Web Site: http://www.ncaa.com/sports/volleyball-menE
National Rankings: http://www.ncaa.com/rankings/volleyball-men/ncEL
Appearance by Ed, courtesy of Edventures With Ed and Ed Novick Comics : https://ednovickcomics.wordpress.com/
By popular demand I have followed up last year’s inaugural calendar by compiling and today publishing a 2015 Chicago Southland Free (and low admission cost) Summer Concerts Calendar!
The summer is approaching and one of my favorite summer activities is enjoying outdoor summer concerts.
Last year I enjoyed many of them.
This year, I want to enjoy even more of concerts.
And I want you to enjoy them too!
Toward that goal, I have compiled a calendar of free (and low cost) outdoor summer concerts around the Chicago Southland and nearby suburbs. The schedule includes band names, dates, times (where available), locations and links to more information.
Simply Click Here For The Calendar. Then print it for your reference all summer long.
When you’re looking for something to do some day this summer, you can check the calendar and head out to enjoy a free (or low cost) outdoor summer concert.
Maybe you’ll even see me there!
And please feel free to share a link to the calendar or this article with your own friends to maximize your own enjoyment of the concerts and make a party out of each outing.
This year’s calendar has an exciting new sponsor too — Ed Novick Comics!
May God bless you with a wonderful summer full of good music and good friends to share it with!