A proper Thanksgiving
Xs and Arrows
November 21, 2020
Thanksgiving is a banner day and one of those holidays that just seem to stick out in my days covering sports. While the optimal day is relaxing with family and friends, maybe assisting in the meal preparation itself and being simply thankful for all we have, this holiday was always important to me, especially given my life on the road.
When I was a basketball announcer this was the beginning of the very-busy travel season. My time at Cal State Bakersfield meant plenty of November/December road trips, holidays notwithstanding, you played when you were able to get games and more importantly the players were on holiday breaks and not missing class time. While many Thanksgivings were normal it was the last two that ultimately sealed my fate in a desire for a career change.
I value my time with family, I value normalcy and my role at that time allowed for very little of that. In 2015, I nearly missed Thanksgiving. After playing the night before in Laramie, Wyoming, we had a Thanksgiving-morning flight in Denver. I had it planned down to the minute with the expectation to land in Bakersfield and move swiftly to my in-laws' house for dinner. We were welcomed with a snowstorm that morning and a looming bus trip to the Denver airport a couple hours away. Credit to the driver for making it over the snowy passes and ultimately delivering us to the airport and eventually into town in time for Thanksgiving, exhausted, nonetheless.
The following year the schedule was not as forgiving. I was sent to Dayton, Ohio for a tournament which meant missing Thanksgiving for the first time ever. While I spent the time with some good young people and a few friends I had on our travel crew, it did not feel like home. We had the day off and we were fed well. We spent the evening at a nice Dayton restaurant where we ordered Thanksgiving classics, and while it was well done, again, it wasn't home where my wife was, expecting our first child in just a few months.
It was at that moment I pretty much pledged to myself that this would not happen again. I already knew the following year the team was scheduled to play in Alaska and I would have been gone two Thanksgivings away from family. That just wasn't in the cards for someone who was starting a family and had spent more than a decade on the road. I had just had enough of that grind and missing Thanksgiving put me over the edge in looking for a new purpose in life.
When I was a younger man those type of things did not bother me as much. Packing up right after Christmas and hitting the road or traveling on New Year's Day became an acceptable condition in that line of work. But as one gets older, puts down roots and builds a family, those holidays become sacred. You realize that you receive a limited supply of them, and each one becomes increasingly important.
Thanksgiving for some reason personally triggered those feelings, and these days when I have the luxury of enjoying this holiday with the people that mean the most, I think back to the restaurants and airports many miles away and I'm thankful for both those experiences and the right decision I made to leave that behind and enjoy a proper Thanksgiving with the ones I love.
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. He can be reached at [email protected]gmail.com. Read more content at http://www.CostelloeMedia.com.