The house at 5763 Ravenwood Drive did not have a white picket fence or a basketball hoop in the front yard.
What it did have was an acre-long backyard and one Walter Brown to teach me every sport imaginable.
It was in that backyard with that man that I gained the love and passion for sport I have today. That man is my father, and today is his 75th birthday.
Although the days of punting footballs and playing catch have long since passed, the days of reminiscing of them have not. To this day, not a week goes by without hearing my father’s words of wisdom ringing in the back of my head from our many hours of missed basketball shots.
Whether it was soccer or football, roundball or T-ball, my dad was there to teach an appreciation for each sport. And although I was rarely the best athlete on the field-no matter how much I thought otherwise-when I was, it was you know who that kept my inflatable ego in check.
In the eyes of white America, a father teaching his son sports is as American as apple pie. Unfortunately, that notion is not as prevalent in the black community, which is why I appreciate the days of shanked punts and fetched baseballs with my old man.
I still remember the Christmas mornings where we would kick a football until breakfast was ready. But one of my lasting memories will be of our last tennis match together eight years ago. It will be one of the more poignant moments of my athletic life, behind winning a state championship
There is a certain amount of appreciation one has for a man in his 60s to play ball with a kid who had a strong throwing arm, a stronger kicking leg and a horrible view of sportsmanship.
It was after one of those losses – and they did pile up over the years – that I realized a career in sports journalism would not be the worst thing in the world.
As with anything, dad was skeptical about my ambition to become another pundit, talking as long as someone wanted to hear hot air come out of my mouth. But after he told me, “If you spent as much time in your books as you do box scores, you would be a straight ‘A’ student.” I knew my future in sports journalism was safe.
Whenever someone hears of my dad’s age, more often than not, they look as though I misspoke.
My father and I don’t speak every day, or every week for that matter, but when we speak our conversations always come back to two things – FAMU and sports. Regardless of our many differences, our love for both will never fade.
What has faded is his physical ability and my days of playing some sport until the mosquitoes-Sarasota didn’t have cows-came home.
One of the beautiful things about sports is that it is never ending. With the Super Bowl last weekend and the NCAA basketball tournament on the horizon, our conversations will not lack material.
Maybe tact, but not material.
As my father heads into the latter stages of his life, I understand there will be a day I will not be able to politely ask my step-mother if my dad is home.
It’s because of life’s hourglass I appreciate my job as a sportswriter for the campus newspaper of a lifelong Rattler.
When I was little, I once told my mother; “I don’t want to grow up to be like dad.” But that is one reason why our love for sports is the best way to describe our relationship.
There is always another game.
Will Brown is a junior newspaper journalism student from Rockledge. He is the Sports Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org