Road Trip Dad – Didn't See his Coming When I Started Writing RTD
Dan Witmer | August 26, 2019
I thought Road Tip Dad would be a fun way to chronicle my chasing my sons around New York State as they played their senior and sophomore seasons of lacrosse at SUNY Brockport. Next thing I knew, it was 2014, and their college lacrosse careers were over. Where would RTD take me next?

Oh, I had filled in the summer, fall, and winter months with human interest stories, personal tales, and an Oswego State Lake Lacrosse highlight here and there, but…

“Now what?” I asked myself.

As it turned out, Brian started playing box lacrosse, and there were new games to chronicle. Then all three of us went out to Denver to volunteer at 2014 FIL World Games. We always had Lake Placid, and then I started coaching varsity lacrosse at Oswego High School in 2016. Then I got certified to officiate in 2017. RTD got new legs.

Now, more than seven years and 400+ blogs later, RTD faces perhaps its biggest challenge.

You see, since Brian and Eric’s college days ended, I have continued to chase them around the continent to watch them play. I drove to Halifax to watch Brian play, and then drove up to Six Nations a few weeks later to watch him play again. And yes, I drove to Denver back in 2016 to watch both sons play.

But today? Today I’m boarding a plane to watch Brian play in a box tournament in Prague this weekend. And then next week, I’ll be watching him play in a field tournament in Belgium.

Road Trip Dad indeed!

Since first playing in Prague in 2015, Brian has encouraged me to make the trip across the pond. “You’d love it!” he’d tell me, “It’s just like Lake Placid!”

“Except,” I would always reply, “I tend to know almost everyone in Placid.”

Still, Brian returned to play in the Ales Hrebesky Memorial Tournament every April, and then he started playing in the Frank Menschner Cup each September. If there was a tournament in Prague, he’d work his schedule around it; he’s been playing in at least three tournaments a year for the past few years. A local family took to him, and gave him his own apartment to stay in whenever he was in town. Their young children slept in the T-shirts Brian gave to them, and wrote to him when he was away.

Then, two years ago, Brian met a girl. A Czech girl. Who just happened to be a member of the Czech Women’s National Team. And a school teacher. Jane made her Upstate NY debut last summer, and played on a women’s team at Lake Placid. She returned this summer, happy to be cruising around in Brian’s van, wherever it may take them.

Jane flew back to Prague on Friday; her school year starts today. Brian’s flight is also today, but he’s flying out of Toronto. My flights are through Syracuse and Newark.

No worries. If all goes well, we’ll all be together sometime tomorrow. In Prague.

The fourth annual Frank Menschner Cup starts Thursday. Brian has assembled yet another rendition of his Glasgow Clydesiders, including his former Brockport teammate Brendan Wall (Clifton Park, NY/Shenendehowa HS). As usual, Brian has assembled an international cast of friends and former teammates from his adventures around the world, and next week’s Clydesiders roster shows 17 players from 8 different nationalities.

Brian wrote this for LaxAllStars.com about the inaugural FM Cup back in 2016:

“Frank Menschner was a hero to the sport, and was pivotal in helping grow box lacrosse domestically in the United States. Shortly after the Ales Hrebesky Memorial in 2015, Frank was taken from us far too soon. This past year in Prague, the tournament was lively and the spirit of the game lives on, but Frank’s absence was impossible to ignore.

The first year I made it over the pond to play in Prague, it was made pretty clear that Frank was one of the good guys who really had seen it all and you could see the love for the game radiating from Frank. The only thing that can be done about losing one of the good guys, is to keep his spirit and his memory alive. Every time you lace up the shoes and put the helmet on, you’re not just playing for yourself, you’re playing for all of those who’ve come before you. This first weekend in September, we’ll be playing in Frank’s memory.

Josh Potter did an amazing job detailing Frank’s connection to this small Czech town  in his post.  It’s well worth a read.”

- 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.