SOUR GRAPES: Big 12 thoughts

By Jim Magdefrau

I’m reporting back from my world travels, if that includes driving 90 minutes into Missouri.

The tradition continued of our college crew getting together for the Big 12 Basketball Tournament, having attended since it was the Big 8 tournament. We go back to Hornacek and Grayer days.

A new part of the routine is the Westport St. Patrick’s walk/run held on Saturday of the tournament.

I’m glad to say that I finished 17th. Let me clarify this. I was 17th for my gender. Wait. I was 17th for my age group. Wait again. I was 17th out 17 male runners in my age group.

Still, I earned a new green shirt for my drawer of green running shirts. And a medal.

* * *

We had great representation. Our main topic of conversation was of a friend who couldn’t make it. Jeff. He had years of health issues. They caught up with him and he was in the hospital. Each of my friends there visited him in Omaha. His words to Rod as he left were, “Party Hearty.”

While our Cyclones battled, it was enough to get them deep into the tough Big 12 field. So that cleared up our schedule and we actually tried to visit places that we’d never been. We found those places were closed, as they are still bouncing back. So yes, we ended up going to the same places, but with an emphasis on live music.

As the week after the conference tournament progressed, we corresponded about Iowa State’s chances. And Jeff. A text came that Jeff was not going to get through his latest challenge. Friends and Jeff visited and talked about college days and how college friends became his second family. His brother made it from Dubuque.

Just as Sunday’s tough game with Wisconsin was closing, we received word from Jeff’s brother that Jeff had peacefully passed.

It’s a realization that college days are over. We are in the early part of our mid to late 60s. Though if Jeff was healthy, I’m sure he would be taking courses to earn a new degree or learn a new language. Or teaching.

Some of the college crew, cleaned up. Jeff on the left.

At each future gathering, we’ll be missing Jeff. We’ll miss Jeff’s detailed critique of Iowa State’s game plan. But we had that big win. In our minds, Jeff played a part.

So enjoy each day, remember your friends and family. Make a difference every day.

And. Party hearty.

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