No pictures today, only memories.
I'm going to take this opportunity to brag about Spencer Keith, Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, Lee Stalker and Jacquise Terry. These four young men represented Kent State with pride during our stay in Tuscaloosa. Not only did they voluntarily give up one of their last free weekends until December, they worked their tails off on Friday and Saturday, as their sunburns and dirty laundry will attest.
It was a pleasure to get to know them a little better while seeing them interact with the people from all walks of life that we came across during our travels. From wide-ranging backgrounds themselves, the quartet embodies all that our coaches look for in a student-athlete.
A few more observations from our stay, in no particular order:
— Southern hospitality isn't just a phrase or a myth, it's the real deal. We encountered it at every turn of our trip.
— To the Brandons, Hollys, Bevs and the countless other volunteers in Tuscaloosa: keep it up! What you're doing is making a difference in the lives of more people than you realize.
— No matter what you've seen on television, the devastation from a tornado of that magnitude is breathtakingly horrific when you see it in person. Words cannot adequately describe it.
— This commercial is not an exaggeration.
— I would be remiss without thanking the staff of the Courtyard Marriott for bending over backwards to make our stay a pleasant one. It started with the manager, Tina, and went down through every last employee that we dealt with.
On a personal note, I'm dealing with a family issue right now — one that seems pretty bleak. But my spirits have been buoyed by what I saw in the faces of the people we encountered the last three days. People who had their lives ripped apart and scattered across the Alabama countryside without prejudice. What I saw was hope.
It brought to mind the lyrics to a Matt Nathanson song off of his latest album:
"Hope, hope will put the colors in the sky
Hope, hope will set this world of wrong to right, to right"
Hope is a tremendously powerful word. It has the ability to transform, to encourage, to heal. And that's the most important thing that I'm taking with me from our time in Tuscaloosa.
Signing off from the Charlotte airport.
Keep an eye on the web site for a video later in the week that will feature some sights and sounds from the trip as well as the players' thoughts on what they experienced.