Road Trip Dad - Quick – What color is Terracotta?
Dan Witmer | February 22, 2021
Well, Road Trip Dad hits another milestone this week. In fact, today is the big day. Nine years ago today, on February 22, 2012, I posted my very first Road Trip Dad blog on Little did I know then that I’d post another 459 RTD articles over the next nine years…

To celebrate this special occasion, I searched Google for an appropriate anniversary gift. You know, silver for 25 years, gold for 50. Last year at this time I learned that linen and lace are designated for an 8-year anniversary; I passed on getting myself something.

But this year, well, I mean, nine years is almost ten, and ten year anniversaries are celebrated with tin and/or aluminum, representing flexibility and durability.

So what about nine?

No matter how many different websites I searched, they all said the same thing. Nine years is… get this… leather. Or willow. Or pottery.

Leather? Willow? Pottery? Seriously?


In hindsight, maybe I should have taken last year’s lace and this year’s leather and worked on reconditioning some of the beat-up wooden sticks that hang on my basement walls, but somehow I doubt that’s the kind of lace the websites are talking about.

OK, so the gift isn’t exactly what I was hoping for. What about color; what color goes with nine year anniversaries? After all, eight years was bronze, and that’s good enough for a third place medal in the Olympics. And next year? Ten years’ color is silver, so…

One website says the official nine-year anniversary color is terracotta.


A little research found this: “Terracotta  is a  colour  that resembles  terracotta  pottery.”

Well, nice try, but that wouldn’t get you full credit in my classroom…

Maybe the British spelling of colour is part of the problem; maybe that definition is perfectly OK over across the pond, but I mean, even the 120-crayon box of Crayola doesn’t have a terracotta.

But I digress...

So, as I surround myself with flower pots, willow branches, and various leather items, let me look back a bit at the past nine years…

The internet says that, in 2012, Barack Obama was President and Joe Biden was the Vice President. Donald Trump considered a run for President but decided against it. Gas was $3.91 a gallon. The Miami Heat won the NBA championship and the LA Kings won the Stanley Cup. The New York Giants beat the Patriots in the SuperBowl, and the San Francisco Giants beat the Tigers in the World Series.

In February of 2012, I was getting ready to scout high school prospects for 3d Lacrosse, and help out as a volunteer with the Oswego High School boys’ varsity team. I was still teaching English at Hannibal HS, coaching girls’ varsity soccer as well as girls’ ice hockey at Oswego HS.

But I still felt like I had time on my hands – which tells you how much time I spent coaching college lacrosse “part-time.” So I got the idea to write a weekly blog about following my sons and their SUNY Brockport teammates. Brian was a senior, and Eric was a sophomore. I could write from the perspective of a Lacrosse Dad and a former college coach. It would be fun…

And it has been. And it still is.

Topics changed, especially as the Golden Eagles’ season came to an end. Then there was the NCAA Championship Weekend, and summer tournaments, and Lake Placid, and old Oswego State stories, and – well, you get the idea.

box lacrosse, which led to The Rochester Greywolves, the Rochester River Monsters, the Vermont Voyageurs, the Nova Scotia Privateers, and the Glasgow Clydesiders. Then the three of us volunteered at the FIL World Championships in Denver in 2014, which led me to work at the 2015 Indoor World Championships in Syracuse and the 2018 World Games in Israel.

And it really hasn’t slowed down at all, except for the 23-week hiatus I took from last March until September, putting lacrosse on Pause while we waited to see where COVID would take us. Still, I hit blog #450 in December, and I’ve got more ideas for future pieces queued up for the foreseeable future.

I’ve now published two Best of Road Trip Dad books – The Laker Lacrosse Collection (2018) and the more recent A Lacrosse Coach’s Handbook (2020). The first included 37 blogs; the second has 58. That leaves only 365 other articles for future Best of RTD themes – and that doesn’t include future pieces. And I’ll tell you right now that there will be more…

From time to time owner and editor Dennis Pettit provides me with data about how many weekly “hits” my RTD blogs get, and sometimes the location of those hits. I know Mike Cotsonas (’88) is reading every week from Ohio, and Todd Zahurak follows me from Massachusetts. My son Eric is in Colorado, and Mom is a pretty faithful follower down in Florida. I had a Colgate alum from Georgia tell me he reads RTD every week. One report a few years ago showed that Utah ranked second in hits, beating out all other states except New York. That’s right – Utah.

And one or two times I got a print-out of hits – by city/town. Oswego, Fulton, and Syracuse were at the top of the list, but there were also clicks coming in from Amherst, Canton, Horseheads, and Bethlehem, too. Which begs the question – how do I define Upstate NY?

Look, I’m all about inclusiveness. Dennis might have a different definition, but mine is pretty broad. I figure, if you ain’t Downstate, then you’re Upstate. Maybe in your mind Upstate is different from CNY, but I don’t want to cause any friction or arguments here. I often use the two terms interchangeably, but I prefer Upstate because – well, that’s what Dennis uses, and he’s my boss. Besides, CNY opens itself up to other regional options, like WNY, the North Country, the Southern Tier, and the Capitol District.

As far as I’m concerned, my primary audience comes from all those areas. I certainly have spent parts of the past five decades coaching, recruiting, and visiting all of them. If Syracuse and Section III is my front yard, certainly Rochester and Section V is my back yard, with the Finger Lakes on one side and the North Country on the other.

Which might sound kinda funny coming from a guy who grew up on Long Island.

Still, Upstate has been my home since leaving “the Island” to attend Oswego State in 1978. I came north and never returned home. My wife grew up in the Catskills and went to Cobleskill and Plattsburgh. Our sons were born and raised in Oswego, and to many Oswego State students, I guess we were all considered “townies.” Funny how things work out sometimes.

And what’s down the road for Road Trip Dad?

Kinda hard to say, except that I hope to keep doing this for a while. It would help, obviously, if we could get past this COVID thing and be more free to play, coach, and travel. The U-19 World Games (which are now the U-21 Games) are calling me to Ireland, and I’ve been invited to coach the Slovenia men’s national team in the European championships. Then there’s the Lake Placid tournament and other Summit Lacrosse Ventures tournaments, the Oswego HS team, and reffing, too.

If I can do half that stuff I’ll have enough material for nine more years. Farewell willow, leather, pottery, and terracotta. Say hello to… hopefully something better!

So stick around (Dad Joke! Get it?). There are still many, many stories to tell. This great game gives us all good medicine, good friends, and good memories, so buckle up and let’s enjoy the ride together.

Thanks. Drive carefully, stay safe, stay smart, and stay kind.

- Dan Witmer

Dan Witmer is the author of three 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, 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 and at the river's end bookstore. His third book, The Best of RTD – A Lacrosse Coach’s Handbook, has just been released at It contains more than 55 weekly Road Trip Dad blogs spanning 2012-2020, featuring Xs and Os, highs and lows, and even some Dos and Don'ts, and plenty of advice for coaches of all levels.