Road Trip Dad - Another TLA:
RTD CDL
Dan Witmer | December 14, 2020
I once heard a keynote speaker use the term TLA in a professional development presentation at OCC years ago, and he had me and the rest of his audience puzzled. Some over-achieving teacher taking notes in the front row boldly raised her hand and interrupted him to ask what a TLA was.

“Three-letter acronym,” he cleverly replied. I think he expected the question.

I don’t remember anything else from that day (or most any other day of professional development, but that’s another story), but I took that one home with me. Of course, I passed the term along to my sons, and Eric delighted me just last week when he referenced TLAs in his guest RTD piece.

Educational jargon has plenty of TLAs, of course – SATs and ACTs, GPA, IEP, ELA, and NHS, among many, many others.

And yes, lacrosse has its own TLAs, too – GLE, EMO, COD, LSM, and even a few FLAs, like FOGO and COMA.

But CDL?

No, I’m not talking about a Commercial Driver’s License…

You see, CDL is the Roman numeral equivalent of 450 (C=100, D=500, and L=50… so that’s 100 less than 500, plus 50… CDL!).

What’s so special about the number 450, you impatiently ask? Well, believe it or not, this week’s Road Trip Dad blog is my 450th.

That’s right. Four-hundred and fifty…

What’s in a number? Consider this:

Only 39 MLB players have hit more than 450 HRs
Only 1 MLB pitcher has more than 450 career wins (Cy Young)
Only 61 NHL players have scored more than 450 career goals
Only 7 NHL goalies have more than 450 career wins (can you name them?)
Only 4 NFL QBs have thrown more than 450 TD passes (Brady, Brees, Manning, and Favre)
Only 1 college football coach has more than 450 career wins (John Gagliardi after 64 years at Carroll and then Saint John’s)
OK, well, NCAA basketball is a different animal – I found 119 head coaches with more than 500 wins…
No NCAA D-I lacrosse player has more than 450 career points
Only 2 NCAA D-III players have scored 450 or more career points (Salisbury’s Jason Coffman – now head coach at his alma mater, Carthage HS – had 451, and Will Van Dorn of Kean and Montclair had 450) Sorry, couldn’t find D-II records.
Only two college coaches have more than 450 career wins (two of our Upstate guys: Jim Berkman – Watertown HS/St. Lawrence ‘82 – and Hank Janczyk – Irondequoit HS/Hobart ‘76)
Nationally, only 31 high school lacrosse coaches have more than 450 career wins (and seven just happen to hail from Upstate NY – hats off to Mike Vorgang (451), Tom Hall (454), Kirk Ventiquattro (458), Ron Doctor (512), Gene Tundo (541), Bob Streeten (544), and Mike Messere (#1 with 846 varsity wins).

Of course, RTD #450 should have been posted back in July if I hadn’t taken 23 weeks off due to the COVID shutdown, but I’m still grateful to hit the milestone now. That’s a lot of blogs, and in another two months or so, I’ll hit another big number – my ninth anniversary of writing RTD articles for JustLacrosse.com.

OK if I take a breath and reflect a bit?

Grateful thanks go to JustLacrosse.com owner and editor Dennis Pettit, who offered this platform to me back in 2012 when I was floundering… my second year not coaching, with all kinds of time on my hands while volunteering as an girls’ ice hockey assistant coach and then as a boys’ lacrosse assistant. I had gotten to know Dennis a bit serving on his Casey Powell Lacrosse Poll committee, and when I offered to write a weekly lacrosse blog for his website, he not only graciously accepted, he encouraged my efforts.

Writing this series has given me a voice, combining two of my interests – lacrosse, of course, and writing. When I started writing Road Trip Dad in 2012, I was still teaching high school English at Hannibal, and I’d been writing near-weekly articles for an English 12 project we cleverly called “the senior paper” since approximately 1996 – so, truth be told, in addition to 450 Road Trip Dad articles, I also have a collection of some 540+ pages of approximately 360+ articles; maybe someday I’ll publish a book of my favorites for my former HCS students. No lack of material to choose from; that’s for sure!

I will confess that, on very few occasions between 2012 and my retirement in 2015, I might have “double-dipped” and used an RTD piece in our senior paper. I did occasionally write about lacrosse for that project, but I also knew that no one was reading both Road Trip Dad and the HCS senior paper from Mr. Witmer’s Room 101, so no one was the wiser.

But for the most part, the two tasks were very distinct – with two very diverse audiences. So I spent a lot of time at my keyboard, trying to be creative and interesting, not once, but often twice a week.

In the very beginning of RTD, the blogs were more like journal or diary entries than anything else. I wrote about my road trips to SUNY Brockport games and maybe added an Oswego HS highlight in there as well. There wasn’t always a particular theme or message; I just wrote about where I’d been and what I’d seen that week.

But as the 2012 college and then high school seasons ended, I wanted to keep writing. But what was I going to write about?

I wrote a farewell to a fellow teacher at Hannibal – whose son had played lacrosse with mine, and had become a regular at Oswego State home games – who had passed away suddenly at the age of 56. I wrote about Loyola beating Maryland at Gillette Stadium. I wrote about the Lake Erie Showcase after we took an OHS team there for the weekend. I wrote four RTD pieces about the 2012 Lake Placid Tournament. Then I wrote a lacrosse-centric piece for 9/11, followed by three consecutive articles summarizing the evolution of Oswego State’s Ron Humphreys Memorial Alumni Lacrosse Classic… and before I knew it, I was getting ready to start thinking about the 2013 season.

And just like that, RTD Year One blended into Year Two – and then Year Three. After Brian and Eric’s NCAA careers were finished, I might have paused for a moment, but then Brian started playing box lacrosse for the Rochester Grey Wolves, followed by stints with the Adelaide Warriors, the Rochester River Monsters, and then the Vermont Voyageurs, and then the Nova Scotia Privateers in the President’s Cup at Six Nations, and then the Glasgow Clydesiders in Prague, and Las Vegas, and Montreal… and, just like that, content has come pretty easily.

My sons and I volunteered at the 2014 World Games in Denver. Then I worked at the 2015 Indoor Games at the Onondaga Nation. Three years later, I was in Israel, working at the 2018 World Games.

Fulfilling a personal and professional dream, I also became a published author in 2018, self-publishing, not one, but two books – a collection of 35+ RTD pieces telling Oswego State lacrosse stories (The Best of Road Trip Dad – The Laker Lacrosse Collection) and what I consider my teaching memoir (..and piles to go before I sleep – The Book of Wit). I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the idea of a collection of previously-posted RTD blogs was Dennis Pettit’s idea.

With another 415 RTD blogs to choose from, there is obviously enough material to sort into more “Best of RTD” collections. With hours, days, and weeks of free time recently, I’ve entertained different ideas – maybe one filled with just Lake Placid articles, or pieces written for an audience of lacrosse parents, and maybe another with the “creative-writing” RTD pieces (for instance, if Derek Jeter played lacrosse…, a fly on the wall of US National Team tryouts and cuts, my dream-team lacrosse roster consisting of professional athletes from other sports, the annual Christmas letters from the fictional Turner Family, etc.).

Of course, I’ve been able to work on several writing projects this past year during this frustrating and deadly worldwide pandemic. In fact, I stopped writing my weekly RTD articles last March, when college, high school, and youth lacrosse – and just about everything else we’d grown so used to – dried up and was replaced by nightly horror stories on the news. I wrote two last farewell RTD blogs (“Now’s the Time to Be a Good Teammate” on March 16 and “It’s farewell and not good-bye” on March 23) and said I’d return when lacrosse did.

As the PLL and MLL surfaced briefly over the summer, I considered resuming the RTD gig, but I felt like it wasn’t enough. I waited some more; like everyone else, I wanted summer tournaments, fall ball, and the rest of the whole package. But it didn’t happen; the four Summit Lacrosse Ventures tournaments I was scheduled to work at got cancelled, as did the World Games in Ireland, and the European Championships in Poland – I had an awesome, busy, Road Trip Dad summer all planned out.

Next thing I knew, it was September, and for most of the seven years I’ve re-posted my 9/11 piece each year; I felt it was time to return, and Dennis supported whatever decision I made. After that return piece, I found I had the makings of more blogs saved on my laptop. Even though I wasn’t posting any RTD blogs from mid-March through early September, that didn’t mean I wasn’t thinking of future pieces. Topics kept coming to mind, and I’ve been making notes for myself, confident that there would come a day when I’d be back and – hopefully – lacrosse would return, too.

So, here we are. 450.

I plan to keep writing, and I hope you’ll continue to read my stuff. Hopefully things take a turn for the better – soon – and there will be more, new, and interesting content in the weeks and months ahead. Happy Holidays, everyone! Please, drive carefully, and be safe, be smart, and be kind.

- 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.