Off the beaten trail, Sewing

Alma Mater Pride! ‘Nawlins has a gem and I hope they know it.

I read an article yesterday written by journalist Tom James for the Tribune-Star out of Indiana.

He writes about how Drew Brees, the now ‘world’ famous quarterback for the New Orleans Saints managed to get in a plug for his Alma Mater, the Purdue Boilermakers during a press conference at the Super Bowl.

He writes;

Since his appearance during a New Orleans Saints Super Bowl news conference coincided with national signing day for NCAA football teams, Brees thought the time was right and took a few minutes to state his case for attending his alma mater.

“Well, being that Florida’s a high school football Mecca, just like the state of Texas, I would like to encourage all Florida high school players to consider Purdue when looking for an institution of higher education and playing in the Big Ten Conference and all those things,” the Saints’ Pro Bowl quarterback teased.

While Brees’ comments were made with a smile on his face, the meaning was clear. The former All-Big Ten Conference signal caller, who led Purdue to a Rose Bowl appearance in 2001, remains a loyal Boilermaker.

“Obviously I have an affinity for Purdue, not only because I went there, but just because they were one of the few schools that gave me an opportunity coming out of high school. I wasn’t that highly recruited. Really it was Purdue and Kentucky,” he recalled.

“Both of those coaches, Joe Tiller at Purdue and Hal Mumme at Kentucky, had just gotten [hired] in December of my senior year [of high school] and were trying to throw together a recruiting class. I wasn’t getting any calls at the time. They called me up, set up the official visit, and I chose Purdue because of the great education, playing in the Big Ten Conference and having an opportunity to play in that spread offense.”

I cannot feel nothing but pride from what Brees said.  I also know first hand what it means to have had a school believe in me, this same school…as well as for my two siblings and take a gamble on our swimming capabilities and award us a world class education in the process.  All three of us swam for Purdue and all three of us received scholarships.  The experiences of being a scholarship athlete are some of my most memorable of my life.  Every year I sit down and write a check to my Alma Mater, more often than not, I designate to a fund that goes to the swimming program or to a general scholarship fund.  It feels good knowing that there is another student that will benefit in the same way that I’ve benefited.

But back to the Saints and Drew Brees.  My husband and I held season tickets during the years Drew played for Purdue.  He was amazing to watch.  He had such confidence in himself and knew he could take the team to wherever he wanted to go…and that was to the top.  He played gutzy and fearless too.  The man is just 6 feet, but he never thought he wouldn’t be able to measure up to any challenge, including playing in the pros.

When Drew went to play for the Saints the first thing I thought about was he’d be wearing Black and Gold again.  I thought that was good for him and he’d do well.  From the first few games of the season there was something going on.  You could feel it.  I found myself logging on to get the news on the Saints, catching up on the plays or the games I missed.

It was fun to call Mom and Dad or my sister or brother, even my nephew to toss around the scores and re-cap the plays of the games.  This was a fun season to watch.  And to hope the Saints would go all the way.  And they did!

But as much as I’m proud of Drew and the Saints I don’t think I’ll ever go back to New Orleans.  A year prior to Katrina I found myself stranded from hurricane Ivan.  I spent a week in a hotel eating apples, granola bars, and peanut butter while sleeping with 6 other women in one room.

A hurricane brings out the best and worst of people.

Fortunately I didn’t go through Katrina but Ivan gave me enough experience to last me for good! The big thing about being stranded during the hurricane is I didn’t like being poked at by ‘the locals’.

What I mean is, there was a deep propensity by the people of New Orleans…at least the ones nearby our hotel…to  come up to us and either ask for a hand out, just come out and ask for money, or throw out some ‘cat-calls’.  Not an ‘easy’ feeling.

This is pre-Katrina so hopefully things have changed.  This sequence of photos shows one such incidence where I was being followed.

This man had asked me for money but I told him he had to do something for the cash.  I just wasn’t going to give him money just for asking.  Of course the two ladies I was with told me to just keep walking.  To me that would show fear and besides it looked to me a little harmless.

I asked him if I could take his picture, then I would give him a dollar.  He had to do something.

He thought for a minute then said “if I do a backflip will you give me two?!?”.

Sure, what the heck!

These are my two buck flip photos:

Scary…but two bucks, a camera, and a good sense of humor got me out of a sticky situation.

New Orleans.  You’ve got a real gem in Drew Brees.  Make us proud.