Hulne: The bittersweet goodbye of a sports bond

Published 4:07 pm Wednesday, March 15, 2023

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The last game of the season is never easy for any team that doesn’t win a championship, but it is especially tough when a coach has a lasting bond with a player.

This past week saw the end of a few strong basketball bonds for local teams who had their seasons come to an end.

Lyle-Pacelli boys basketball head coach Carl Truckenmiller coached his son Jake for the final time in high school, Hayfield boys basketball head coach Chris Pack finished his run with his son Ethan and Grand Meadow girls basketball head coach Ryan Queensland coached his daughter Kendyl Queensland for one last run.

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The Truckenmiller’s helped LP to one of its best runs in co-op history this year as the Athletics proved they belong amongst the best in Section 1A, the Pack’s finished off an incredible three-year run together that saw the Vikings capture two Class A state titles and the Queensland’s helped GM get to the Section 1A title game for the second straight year, after the program had never gone that far before.

The ending was certainly emotional and heartbreaking for all three duos, but they have built up many memories that will last well beyond their days of being on a basketball court.

I never was coached by either of my parents, but I was the son of and administrator and I can tell you that it wasn’t always fun. There were times when I was teased about having special privileges or blamed for school not being canceled, and there were also the awkward times when my dad would come in and substitute teach the class I was sitting in.

Even worse, was when he would stop by and say hi while I was eating lunch. It was as if a spotlight of embarrassment was shining on my already awkward presence.

At the same time, it was nice to know my dad was near me during the school day and it was always a nice feeling to swing by his office after school was done.

For players who play for their parents, I’m sure there are times when they are embarrassed in practice, frustrated when the game comes home with them, and there are also times when they are jubilant in victory together. It’s all about balance.

My final moment with him as my educator was on graduation day and while many of classmates thought it was funny to prank the administrators by handing them golf balls on the hand shake, I went did not partake in those shenanigans and instead gave my dad a big hug – the same kind of hug that the Truckenmiller’s, Pack’s and Queensland’s exchanged last week.

It’s the kind of bittersweet hug that displays a sense of relief, pride, and the fear of the future all in one.

It’s a moment that doesn’t happen very often and is certainly one to cherish.