RE: Ol' Black Water
OK, now that my kids are sick of me saying "my boys won the National Crown on Saturday!", I've had some time to digest.
I went to work this morning like every Monday for the past 23 years. I get up at 5:30 A, shower, shit and shave and at the office by6:15 A. But something is a little different today. I know that there will be a slurry of emails flying around from some people that I know, some that I have met and some that I haven't met. But I know them all. Some of the emails will make me laugh (everything from Scotty Treser makes me laugh), some will make me think but all will make me proud. Not proud that I went to Penn State, not proud that I played this game that has given me a bad back and knees, and not proud that I, at one time, wore the same jersey as the National Champs. I am proud that I am part of a family that started almost 40 years ago. Because not everyone that plays intercollegiate athletics is part of a similar family. It is natural for former athletes to yearn to be with those guys that they played with. I know that if I ran into Harps, Duane, Scotty, Eddie, Kenny, Bo, Jose, Chuck, Kraynik, JJ, little JJ, Javier, Hogan, Bobby Faux, Stew, Bruce, Cicero, Kaz, Bittner, Yarros, Stevie, John, (the list goes on and I know someone will be pissed) etc.... we would pick up right where we left off. That's natural. Hell, once you run that many sprints with someone, you become brothers. What is not normal among all intercollegiate programs, (I know because my wife played for one) is that I yearn to sing some dumb friggin' song with a bunch of guys that I never played with and some that I never met. That sounds weird to everyone………except for the people in this family.
I also wanted to thank Ryan Sweitzer. The second best part of the match on Saturday evening (the best was seeing Pav's emotional reaction….it was better than Jimmy V) was the fact that when asked, "What does Penn State Volleyball mean to you ?", Ryan replied, "All the great coaches and players that have been a part of Penn State Volleyball". It wasn't the second best because I need reassurance that I had some type of impact 23 years ago (hell, we went 15-15 my senior year….not something that I tell everybody). It made me feel good because I never realized that fact when I was playing. I just thought the Alumni were a bunch of 'older' guys that loved coming back to Happy Valley for a match in mid-January. Yet, the older I grow, the more my PSU experience means to me and therefore, I realize that guys like Tom Tait, Frank Guadagnino, Tom Hahn, Yak, Dave Mull, Ronnie Shayka, Ricky Genday, Chuck Keggereis, Mike Gordon and yes….I'll say it……Harpo(and a whole slew of other guys), worked hard to build a program that gave me an opportunity that I would have never had otherwise. It was just nice to know that Ryan realized this fact a lot faster than I did.
Yep. Today is Monday. Only today, my step is a little lighter, the sun is a little brighter and I just caught myself humming some 'old' song from the 70's. Weird.
Robert A. Palka Jr. PSUMVB 1981-85
President - Jacobs Ladder LLC
North Tonawanda, NY 14120