Road Trip Dad – Binge-watching the U
Dan Witmer | May 21, 2019
I tried to watch my first-ever episode of Game of Thrones last night; figured I might as well be able to say I watched the series finale.

Instead, my son Brian kept yelling, “Dad! Go to bed! You’re snoring.”

So I gave in after about 35 minutes and hit the sack. From that amount of time, I really don’t see what all the fuss was about. “If you stay here, you’ll die,” some female character warned others, so they followed her. And it seemed like, within minutes, one by one, they died anyway. Buildings were collapsing all around them. A flying dragon torched some others. Then guys rode through on horseback, picking off of the ill-fated.

Then the story followed the Peter Dinklage character, and we watched him as he walked … and walked... and walked. Nothing exciting here…

But, truth be told, Brian and I did do our share of binge-watching this past weekend, but we watched ESPNU, not HBO or Netflix.

And that was soooo much better!

Yeah, I picked Brian up from the bus station in Syracuse on Saturday afternoon, during the Virginia/Maryland game. I set the DVR for both games played at Hofstra on Saturday, as we were also celebrating a nephew’s graduation from SUNY Oswego and had dinner plans for 5 pm at Vona’s. I wasn’t sure when I was going to find time to watch the games, as we had some overnight guests and I didn’t want to be too rude, but I figured I’d find time sooner or later.

Brian? I hadn’t seen him since Thanksgiving; he’s been living and working in Europe – mostly the Czech Republic – ever since… playing, coaching, promoting, and writing about lacrosse, and I’ve been counting down the weeks, days, and finally, hours till he came home.

The car ride back to Oswego was like Twenty Questons, maybe more.

DAD: So, is Scotland in or out of the FIL Indoor Championships in September?

SON: Oh, we’re in.

DAD: Are you the coach or the GM?

SON: Yes. We’re hiring an offensive coach and a defensive coach; I see myself as the game day coach. I know all the refs, and I know all the players.

DAD: So, what countries have you been in since Thanksgiving?

SON: Let’s see… Scotland, Germany, Poland, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, and Norway; I think that’s it.

When we got home he showed me his new passport and work visa that permits him to legally live in the Czech Republic. He said he’d been up for about 35 consecutive hours, but after he took a shower, he got a second (or third) wind, and we were off to Vona’s. There were seven of us, and helpings were enormous; we might have brought home more food than we ate.

We all sat around and made small talk, watched some Jeopardy and Guy’s Grocery Games for everyone’s sake, and around 8 PM I got a text from former Laker captain and all-league midfielder Mike Brewster ‘09: “Man, looked like some good games today…”

I texted him right back: “I DVRed the games; don’t know results yet, so I appreciate the ambiguous reviews.” Todd Zahurak, another former captain and all-league midfielder from another generation of Lakers chimed in to our text chain, “Phew! Enjoy!” They both know I don’t like to miss televised games and watch a lot of games via DVR, and they’ve learned not to say too much until they know where I am…

Brian and I stayed up and out-lasted our company and, around 9:30, when everyone else went to bed, we turned on the Maryland/Virginia game. In case you missed it, it was the first of four awesome games played over the weekend, but we kept rewinding and pointing out missed calls, our own selection of replays, etc. Brian fast-forwarded through commercials, but then we’d watch a goal or a penalty over and over.

It was about 11:30 and we were near the end of the third quarter; through Facebook and other social media, we had heard there was some controversy to the game, but we didn’t know what it was. We were both falling asleep, so we decided to call it a night.

The overnight guests left around 8:30 the next morning, so Brian and I sat down and resumed the Maryland/Virginia game. SPOILER ALERT! Of course, neither of us had a dog in the hunt, but we continued to dissect and analyze every call, every time-out, etc.

To be honest, when watching the game “live,” I thought the Virginia shot was a good goal; I could’ve sworn I saw the net pop in the top right corner. But as they showed replay after replay, it was quite obvious that the ball never came close to crossing the plane of the goal line. The single-side ref signaled for a shot clock re-set, and moved upfield as the ball came out.

I don’t know why the officials didn’t huddle for a discussion. That’s always the point-of-emphasis – get the call right, even if it means taking a few seconds. Unless you can convince me otherwise, these guys blew it, and that’s unfortunate, because it was such a great game.

Then we started watching the Notre Dame/Duke around 9:30.

Brian was cheering for the Irish because he loves Ryder Garnsey – he said they played together at Lake Placid when Garnsey was, like, 16 years old. Garnsey’s story was amazing – missing the entire 2019 season due to academic ineligibility and then re-joining the team for the NCAA tournament once he was eligible. He was impressive last week in his first game back, and he put on another amazing show on Saturday (or Sunday, when we watched him).

I was rooting for Duke because, well, because I’m a huge John Danowski fan. What he’s accomplished at that school, under the conditions he faced when he began, is nothing short of epic. National championships, jaw-dropping talent, and just doing things “the right way” have led to their “team of the decade” distinction (although that term might have been over-used a bit by the guys at ESPNU).

Well, SPOILER ALERT!, that game went overtime, too – and when it was over, and the Duke players were finished dog-piling their senior hero, it was now about 11:45 AM – time to get ready to watch some live NCAA lacrosse from East Hartford, CT…

Brian hadn’t seen Penn State play before, but it didn’t take long to impress him. The Nittany Lions were scoring at another frenetic pace, and even the amazingly-talented Pat Spencer couldn’t keep up with them. SPOILER ALERT! Spencer kept his Tewaaraton hopes alive with an 11-point performance, but Penn State put up 21 goals in a seven-goal win. It was the only game of the weekend that didn’t go into overtime, but it was still exciting to watch.

The U had some technical difficulties, which was frustrating, but if they had to happen, I guess it’s best that they happened during the PSU/Loyola game, in the middle section of the game. Still, let’s hope they get everything fixed and ready to work perfectly next weekend.

That game ended around 3 PM, so the Yale/Penn game didn’t start until sometime around 3:30. SPOILER ALERT! Wow – another overtime thriller! Unbelievable! Seriously, have there ever been four better quarterfinal games in the same year? Three overtime games! Two teams playing one another for not the second time, but the third!

And speaking of three, yes, three head coaches who grew up less than 30 minutes away from one another are taking their respective teams to Philadelphia this week for Championship Weekend. Congrats again to Jeff Tambroni (West Genesee HS, Hobart, and head coach at Penn State), Lars Tiffany (Lafayette HS, Brown University, and head coach at Virginia), and Andy Shay (Cortland HS, LeMoyne, and head coach at Yale). Amazing!

It was almost 6 PM when the Bulldogs – led by their mascot, Handsome Dan, of course – celebrated another trip to the semi-finals. Brian and I had just binge-watched four lacrosse games over a period of about 20 hours. He laughed out loud at the Geiko commercial featuring Duncan the walrus-playing goalie in an ice hockey game (“He’s a walrus! Ridiculous!”).

DAD: You haven’t seen that commercial before?

SON: You don’t understand; I don’t watch TV.

Well then, for a rookie, he did just fine this weekend… and now we’re talking about renting a big-screen to have a watch-party this weekend. Not sure if he’s thinking about the semi-final double-header on Saturday, the championship game on Monday, or both, but it’s great having him home.

I’m not sure about all his plans for this trip across the pond, which ends in mid-June, but he’s got a friend’s wedding in Rochester, two weekends of refereeing youth tournaments in Colorado, and employment at the Air Force Lacrosse Camp in the week between.

All told, this is the first of three trips to the US he’s got planned for this “summer.” The second trip includes some of July and August (and Harborfest and Lake Placid), and the third trip is in September/October (for the FIL World Indoor Games in British Columbia and the LASNAI box tournament in Nedrow).

If all I can sit him down for are a couple of great lacrosse games each visit, I’ll be quite happy.

Drive carefully, everyone!

- Dan Witmer daniel.witmer@oswego.edu

Dan Witmer is the author of two books.  The Best of Road Trip Dad – the Laker Lacrosse Collection  is an accumulation of 45 articles written for JustLacrosseUpstate between the years 2012 and 2018, about the history and traditions, the people, and the stories of the Oswego State men’s lacrosse program. The book is available on Amazon.com, and at the river’s end bookstore in Oswego, the SUNY Oswego College Store in the Marano Campus Center, The Sports Outfit on West Genesee Street in Fairmount, and Geared 2 Sports in Cortland.  ...and piles to go before I sleep - The Book of Wit  is his memoir describing his 33 year career teaching HS English and coaching at Hannibal Central School. It is available on Amazon.com and at the river's end bookstore.