Column: The weather outside is frightful — and fun

BOB DeSTEFANO PHOTO |  Perfect weather for our columnist.

Perfect weather for our columnist.

It’s cold and windy and the ground is covered with snow here on Shelter Island.

Those of us who are living here year round are entering into the time of year that many have dubbed “The February Follies.”

If you’re one of us, you’ve heard many times, “What do you do there in the winter? You must go crazy with nothing to do.”

Well, maybe it’s my age, but entering February, outside of playing golf and getting some sunshine, I’m one person who has no idea what you’re talking about. As a young man from New Jersey, I grew up with this weather.

For me, the winter is a long time away from playing golf, but I love all sports and I also enjoy seeing the seasons change. Strangely, as you get older, you seem to enjoy the things that you did as a kid even more.

In the winter, my mind wanders to those times family and friends shared so much fun playing in the snow. Today, on Shelter Island, the kids have one of the best sleigh-riding hills around. I enjoy seeing so many people who I never get a chance to see in the summer.

My days are full on the Island and I never have a minute I feel bored. Yes, it’s cold outside, but I’m not out there unless I’m taking a walk or going somewhere. My home is filled with everything I love and I really get to enjoy it this time of year.

I always remember, years ago, my cousin Jo-Ann, 25 years old at the time, who spent her winter in Florida. She said every day they would go out and sit by the pool. While there, Jo-Ann said the conversation was the same with everyone she met. All they talked about was their children and grandchildren back home up north. I often recall Jo-Ann’s conversation, when she couldn’t understand,

“Why are they down here and not with them?”

I know this is not for everyone since we’re all different ages and have assorted priorities in our life.

Remember, I’m up in age and retired. If you do decide to spend most of the winter up north, you must be involved. The Island has it all and I have actually said “no” to many activities offered to me.

If time allows, all my days start with a cup of coffee with my friends. At those times, we find out the news of the day, who’s sick, who died and who’s fooling around with whom. Most of all, in this group, we just do a lot of laughing and kibitzing and deciding who we should like and who we should not.

I love to attend ball games, and in the winter that means basketball. This is not a new thing for me since I’ve watched as many as I could all the way back to the great 1969 high school team. I attend CYO games with boys and girls between the ages of four and 14. I also love watching our junior high boys and anticipate what a great future they will bring to our school.

Even though the JV team can’t seem to get it together this year, I still enjoy watching them. We know they will get bigger and stronger in the next couple of years and that they will also learn much more about the game. However, I will always support them for the simple fact that there is “no quit” in these kids or their coaches.

Varsity basketball is my favorite. Every game is a priority in my schedule. Today is Super Bowl Sunday and I’m writing this just a few hours before the big game. It’s easy writing because I’m on such a high because of our guys after the last two nights. On Friday night they beat Smithtown Christian at home after losing to them away by 19 points. Last night, they defeated Stony Brook, who also beat us away by 14 points.

This team, with only seven players, is going up against schools with much larger enrollments and they’re playing their hearts out for us. They, like the Shelter Island teams before them, are showing the younger players what it’s like to give everything. Although we are enjoying this now, imagine the great lesson on work ethic learned for the future by these young folks.

My basketball thoughts are simple. I think that Tristan and Billy are always playing well and improvement is being shown every week. Semaj has shown unbelievable improvement and has a wonderful sense of where the ball is going. When you see a hand going up under the basket, it is usually Semaj’s. Sawyer is a joy to watch. He is definitely “Mr. Hustle.” I have never witnessed anyone moving that quickly to get to the inside and make a layup. Jack, Peter, and Johnny have all made such unbelievable progress this year.

You would never believe the improvement that we in the stands have witnessed in one season. I feel comfortable when any of you are in the game.

Of course, I can’t say enough for the coaching staff. Head Coach Jay Card, assistants Jim, Jimbo and Ian, I know you all have had a hand in what is going on with these boys. More than what you have done with the team, I love the way you present yourselves at the games.

You are always sharp looking and never out of line from the bench. I have watched you talk to referees about your disagreements and then move on. You don’t try to embarrass people who are trying to do a good job. You guys are a class act and believe me, children learn from example better than they do from words.

This last paragraph is being written after the Super Bowl and my heart goes out to Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, who will take the brunt of their loss. Like all of us, Coach Pete Carroll happened to make a decision that turned out to be a disaster. If that play had worked, fans of number 12 would have carried their genius off the field.

Unfortunately, it did not work and Wilson will have to live with that one play for the rest of his life. He will have to answer to why he did not give the ball to Marshawn Lynch to move it just one yard in three plays. I know his answer will be either “because that is what everyone expected” or “because of the clock.”
Whatever his answer, I am sure he would give up a year’s salary just to get the last 30 seconds of that game back.

Welcome to the world of sports, my friends!