Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Hadj: A Journey

Before yinz get all jumping ugly, no, I haven't converted to Islam. I would hope yinz would know better.

My hadj, or pilgrimage, will take place today as I load up the fruit of my loins and head to St. Vincent's College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. It's one I've made before, but the sanctity of it all never fades as we go to see my beloved Steelers at training camp.

My first pilgrimage was when I was about eight. Back then, it was so much different. I stood face-to-face with some of the greats of the game. Their names read like a who's who of NFL royalty: Bradshaw, Harris, Bleier, Cole, Greenwood, Ham, Furness, Webster, and Blount. There were no fences to keep fans from their heroes like there are today. It was magical.

Over the years, the players have changed, but the excitement and magic still remain. Autographs can be obtained if the players choose to sign, and that's half the fun. Tonight, my kids and I will sit down and see whose signatures we got. I'll go through the pictures I take and replay the precious time with my kids and my team over and over in my head. We'll make memories that will never fade, and THAT'S what I want for my kids.

I want my kids to be able to look back at all of the hoopla and say, "I remember Mom taking us to training camp. Damn, that was great!" I also want them to have stories to one day tell my grandchildren and be able to pass on the magic to them.

I hope to keep them grounded with admiring those who play for the love of the game and not the money. Too many of today's youth glorify those who feel they are above the law: Vick, Burress, Holmes (that one kills me as a Steeler fan), and Ray Lewis to name a few. Players with character like Warner, Polamalu, Marino, Kelly, and Flutie are a dying breed. When did it all change?

Today's hadj will not involve praying five times or blowing up innocent infidels. It will, however, most likely involve fervor and the laying on of hands.

I hope I don't embarrass my kids.


Bungalow Bill said...

Sounds like the perfect day. Have fun.

Teresa said...

Oh!no Don't embarrass your kids!LOL
I must say I was never a football fan until moving to Pittsburgh. There is so much passion and excitement in support of the Steelers that it goes viral around the city. I know, now I am a fan of the Steelers and enjoy watching their games. I love St. Vincents College beautiful campus. Actually almost attended there. Hope you had a great time!!

The Law said...

Good luck! I'm a diehard Jets fan, but I have a lot of respect for the Steelers... they're a classy organization. I'm angry they moved Jets camp from Long Island (where I'm from) to upstate NY! Nothing beats the excitement of watching your team from so close. Unfortunately, I had moved before Favre was traded to the Jets, so I never got to see one of my football heroes up close. I hope you have a good season, and maybe we'll see each other in the playoffs!

Steve: The Lightning Man said...

I don't follow football as religiously as I follow hockey. And as my nearest NHL teams are 6 hours away, and my nearest AHL team is about 8, I follow ECHL minor league hockey much more closely. My local team is but 40 miles away. Some of the players, current and former, are friends on MySpace. Down here at this level, you can take these guys to dinner and they'll go.

A few have made the transition to the NHL, too. It was pretty neat to watch the Capitals play the Thrashers on TV and see a guy who played for us in 2005 taking a shot on a goalie that I had just given a Christmas card (in Czech, no less)to a few weeks previously.

But I can definitely relate to your pilgrimmage.

Amusing Bunni said...

Hi There RS: I'm sure you had a super fun time with the kids! You are a fun mom! I hope you got lots of autographs and nice pics. How was the weather? I can't wait to hear all the details.

I wish I had gotten to go to fun places like that when I was a kid. You are making lots of wonderful memories for your children they will never forget!
Bye, Bunni

blackandgoldfan said...

BB: I was a bittersweet day. Definitely worth it in the long run.

blackandgoldfan said...

Teresa: St. Vincent's is breathtaking. One day, I plan on going to mass at the abbey. It looks gorgeous!

blackandgoldfan said...

Law: Good luck to the Jets also. The Steelers try to pride themselves on being a class act. They know what the fans expect.

blackandgoldfan said...

Steve: Definitely gearing up for hockey season in da 'burgh also. Damn, I love this time of year!!!

blackandgoldfan said...

Bunni: Hey BOF! You can read the details tomorrow. Loved it and hated it at the same time. Definitely memorable!