I’m a hugger. Really.

Glance up at that headline, and let it sink in for a minute.

Those of you who have met me within the last five-plus years won’t be shocked by the words. For you, it’s a big “DUH!”

If, however, you knew me in my days as a high school or college student — and even in my early days as a teacher and coach — that headline probably elicited something along the lines of “yeah, sure you are.”

During my coaching career, postgame hugs with my fellow coaches and an occasional athlete after a big moment were part of my “makeup.”

But for years — both before and after — I was pretty emotionally distant…even with my own family.

When, in 2015, I reconnected with my fraternity — Delta Sigma Phi — I had nearly 100-plus new role models in how to truly “connect” with those you care about and love.

Over time, saying “I love you” became much easier for me as I watched these 18-to-23-year-old men saying it — and truly meaning it — at virtually every turn.

And, over that same time, a simple embrace became something far more meaningful. It suddenly was something that was backed by TRUE emotion…not simply a “going through” of the motions.

I’d like to believe my immediate family has appreciated the change. The “old dog’s new tricks” have been welcomed, and the hugs I get — and give — are longer and more packed with meaning than ever.

My friends from the past 30-plus years are still kind of adjusting, I think. There are a few of them who have received those hugs for the duration. But others, who I may have been more “distant” from are likely thinking “who the Hell is this guy?!?”

“This guy” is a 56-year-old who isn’t ashamed to say that he truly LOVES some of those 20-somethings who taught him how to express his emotions in a way far healthier than ever before.

I think I may have shocked a few of them in the process. They hadn’t seen an alumni member — or not many of them, anyway — who was so willing to say “I love you,” or to hug them like a member of their immediate family.

Fast forward to today. Last Tuesday, I laid off the remainder of our embroidery team at Laser Apparel. I said goodbye to 24 friends over four days as part of the Stay at Home order we are now under in Jackson County, MO, and the whole of the KC metro.

And then I laid off myself.

What hurt the most in laying off those employees was not being able to give them — because I was following social distancing — the hugs that I so wanted to be able to provide.

To add to the temporary pain, I’ve been unable to hug my own mom and dad — who are in that “greater risk” area for contraction of the virus, because of their ages. And that’s not to mention the fact that their retirement community has been closed to outsiders…including their first-born son.

Finally, I’ve been unable to see — or hug — the three to five current Delta Sigs (plus a handful of young alumni) who have become like sons, of sorts, to me. And, because they’re dealing with the new realities of their own lives — like online learning, quarantines, financial uncertainty and a myriad of other things — some of them aren’t even communicating with me.

When this is all over with — and the sooner the better — I’m going to be a veritable hugging machine. I’ve got a “hit list,” and many reading this are on it.

But in the interim, do me a favor: Let those you love know it…and let them hear from you. Over do it if you have to. Don’t let them be alone…even if they’re surrounded by family.

As a guy who is single, and is cooped up for 30 days with just his two cats, hearing an “I love you” is like having an injection of Red Bull-packed adrenaline.

Because, when it comes right down to it, it’s love that keeps me alive. And hugs that sustain me.

I’m a hugger. Really.



Rest In Peace, Don

My brother Don died yesterday.

No, we didn’t share the same DNA. But we were alike in so many ways. And I hope he knows that I — and so many others — loved him dearly.

Donald W. Grier became a member of Delta Sigma Phi one year after I did. He was initiated in 1984, and he made an impact on K-State’s Alpha Upsilon Chapter almost immediately.

This Pratt Greenback was no ordinary college student. Far from it, in fact. He was a “38-year-old when he was 18.” He wore a pocket protector in his shirt and a calculator on his belt. He walked with a distinct gait that was all his own. And he had a sense of humor that could be best referred to as unique…or warped.

We were BOTH socially awkward, yet he was nearly always the life of any party he stumbled upon. I was always a bit jealous of him for that. No one ever designed a t-shirt for a party with MY likeness on it. But they did for Don. He was special.

When his fellow Delta Sig brothers elected him as our treasurer in November 1984, little did they know that they were shaping the future of our chapter of our beloved fraternity for decades to come.

Let me repeat that: Don Grier’s work as treasurer of the Alpha Upsilon Chapter in the Spring Semester of 1985 was one of the key reasons there is still an Alpha Upsilon Chapter of Delta Sigma Phi.

A little history lesson is in order here. In the early- to mid-1980s, the Alpha Upsilon Chapter was in debt to virtually everyone a fraternity could be indebted to: the National fraternity, local banks, alumni members…you name a group, we likely owed them money.

But the men in the house during that period of time were determined to change all of that — none more so than the guy with the calculator on his belt.

During that fateful Spring 1985 semester (yes, it was important enough to refer to it in that way), I got a first-hand look at Don’s “wizardry” with our chapter’s finances. I was lucky enough to be President of the house during that same semester. And the amount of time I spent with Don — figuring out ways to “make the debt vanish” dwarfed anything that either of us did that semester.

But I’ll take very little credit for what happened during that amazing five months. The men of the chapter closed off New Wing and all moved into the “old” portion of the house, attempting to save money wherever we could. We probably didn’t actually save all that much, but I’d like to think the sacrifice brought us closer in ways that you couldn’t qualify in dollars and cents.

We eliminated meal service from Friday night until Monday morning. An “open” kitchen? You’re kidding, right? The “pit” was locked up tighter than a drum! And when we did sit down for a meal, it was more than likely “stew on a plate.” That “stew” was more than likely a whole lot of vegetables and VERY little meat.

And though the house was still “wet” at that point, there was NO social budget. Brotherhood bonding? It was “on your own dime.”

When that semester was over, we were “in the black” on more than one ledger sheet. It was, simply, the work of a group of men who loved each other WAY BEFORE it was en vogue to openly say so. It was, simply, orchestrated by one remarkable man.

And when I handed the reigns of the house to the remarkable Kevin Vondra — who served honorably as President for three semesters (unheard of at that time) — the men of Alpha Upsilon had a chance to REALLY change the face of Delta Sig on the K-State campus.

There was a move into the top quartile academically, athletic success we could only dream of, and growth in membership numbers that was unprecedented for Alpha Upsilon at that time.

Yes, my friends and brothers, it’s NO EXAGGERATION to say that the man with the pocket protector, the distinctive walk, and more “theories” than you could shake a stick at IS and WAS a big part of the reason that the CURRENT Alpha Upsilon Chapter of Delta Sigma Phi even had a snowball’s chance in Hell of becoming the juggernaut it is today.

Best K-State fraternity? You can make that argument for sure.

But our world, and the beloved Pyramid of ours that’s the center of that world for so many of us, is a bit less special today.

You can be damn sure, however, that God, Cliff Veatch and Jack Taylor are laughing along with my brother tonight.

Rest In Peace, Don.



Longing for fatherhood as a 55-year-old single man…and finding it in a way that was obvious all along

“‘Father’ is the noblest title a man can be given. It is more than a biological role. It signifies a patriarch, a leader, an exemplar, a confidant, a teacher, a hero, a friend.” – Robert L. Backman

As a 55-year-old single man, I think you can safely say I’m more than a bit socially awkward.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t laugh, cry, hurt, heal, long and love just as passionately as “the next guy.”

In fact, I may do all of these things at a level that’s more than a bit uncommon.

And so, on several occasions a year — most specifically Valentine’s Day and Father’s Day — I’m left to reflect on what I’ve missed through the years…and what I’ll miss in the future…by not being a husband or father.

That reflection, lately, has led me to what I now like to think of as my “reality,” and it’s something I hope holds some degree of truth….and is not just a rationalization designed to get me through the days, weeks, months and years which lie ahead.

I think I knew, early on in my college years, that having a long-term relationship — one that ended in marriage — was going to be a chore. And by the time I was three or four years into my teaching and coaching career, I was pretty darn sure I was going to be single for life.

I just had NO IDEA as to where to start a relationship, no clue as to how to spark that “special something” in someone else…and have it last.

But I was fairly certain, however, that at least one thing I wanted — the chance to be the leader, confidant, hero and friend spoken to in the quote that opens this piece — was something I could achieve through teaching and coaching.

And for 18 years, I hope I did just that for what I’ve got to believe were hundreds of young people in a pair of special communities. It’s why I dove headlong into teaching and coaching, into establishing relationships with my students and athletes that were “beyond the norm.”

But it’s also partly the reason that I never seemed to completely “connect” with those closest to me: my blood family. Yup, when it came to truly loving and caring relationships, I seemed destined to be awkward for life.

That’s when my teaching career came to a screeching halt, and I found myself searching…searching for who I was, who I wanted to be, and how I was going to get there.

It’s taken me well into my 50s, but I think I’m finally the son, brother, nephew, uncle and cousin my family deserves. I only wish my grandparents — particularly my Grandmother and Granddad Waeckerle — could have been here to receive some of that love in the way they gave it to me.

But it was the way that Granddad Waeckerle, and my dad, “found their emotional, loving footing” later in their lives that gave me hopes of a similar turnaround.

It was a decision in mid 2014, however — just less than four years AFTER leaving teaching and coaching — that gave me the opportunity to open myself up, make myself vulnerable, and hopefully keep other men from making some of the same mistakes I made through the first 50 years of my life.

That decision, to return to involvement in my fraternity — Delta Sigma Phi — was the single most-important thing I’ve done in my adult life.

Why? Because when I “came back” to Delta Sig, I did so determined to make a REAL, palpable difference in the lives of those men who touched my heart…and allowed me close enough to touch theirs.

I can’t tell you how important it was, is, and will continue to be that three young men — in particular — have allowed me to be so involved in their lives. And though I know DJ Bartels, Hunter Post and Trayton Post have probably REALLY regretted opening their hearts to me on MORE than just a few occasions, each of them has given me the chance to be a confidant and friend.

And I can’t tell you what that means to me. Words just don’t do it justice. So I continue to pour out my heart, to those three men in particular, and hope that some of it…any of it…makes a true difference.

Their REAL dads — two remarkable men named Dan Bartels and Mark Post — have allowed a peer (me) to take a huge role in the lives of their sons, and have done so seemingly unblinkingly. I can’t tell you what that means. Again, words just don’t do it justice.

And though DJ, Hunter and Trayton hold the largest segments of my heart, they’re by no means alone. Young men named Stephen, Colby, Ryan, Mario, Neal, Chaz, Noah, Avery and others have allowed me “in,” letting me be part of their lives, letting me share in some of the emotion that keeps me sane and keeps me thriving.

Heck, even Taryn and Ashley — the Post and Bartels SISTERS — have let this old man in…if only for a few fleeting minutes at a time.

Sure, the new way I’m choosing to live my life leaves some more than a bit confused. They ONLY see the “socially awkward thing,” and don’t take the time to see the respect, caring and love that comes along with it…if time and trust are allowed to build.

But, like the best of those friendships I built in my days as a Delta Sig undergrad — with men named Randy, Brad, Rob, Dan, Jeff, Jack, Keith, Kent, Dave, Chad and Chuck — they’re relationships built to stand the test of time.

And they join those I gained through my years as a coach, with such tremendous men as Matt, Justin, Joey, Chris, John, Tito, Brandon, Ben, Michael, Tyler, Collin and Ryan.

So, really, when all is said and done, maybe I haven’t fared too badly for someone who came out of the womb with “two left feet” when it came to the social graces.

But, if those young people — who will eventually become men who will lead their communities, if they’re not already doing so — will just allow me to have just a piece of their hearts, I might just be able to craft my own definition of “father.”

And maybe, just maybe, its a definition that won’t leave my heart hurting on Father’s Day, longing for something I’ve never had.

Maybe, just maybe, my own version of being a confidant and friend CAN be good enough.

My prayers, and a significant segment of my heart, damn sure hope so.


Not in a hurry to say “goodbye” to 2017, but excited about the future because of Faith, Family, Fraternity and Friendship

There are a lot of people, all around the world, who have been ready to “say goodbye” to 2017 for quite some time.

I’m not one of them.

As excited as I am for 2018 to start – and I am VERY excited – I’m not all that enthused about ending what, in many ways, was my best year ever.

Why was 2017 so great for me?

I’m from a journalism background, so the 5 Ws and I H (Who, What, Where, When, Why and How) have been important to me for decades.

This year, however, was all about the 4 Fs: Faith, Family, Fraternity and Friendship.

It all begins, as I think it should, with Faith. Thanks to my own decision to “take a deeper dive” into my own Catholic faith over the past two years, my life has done nothing but get better as I’ve let “Jesus take the wheel.”

I’ve never really been all that comfortable talking about my faith. I believe what I believe, and I hope that others can, and will, decide to walk alongside.

But I’ve learned so much these two years by reading, listening, talking and just plain opening my heart to something – someone – far greater than myself.

As a result, the fire FOR my Faith has never been greater. And with a determination to dive in even deeper in the days, weeks and months to come, I expect that to continue.

Why do I expect that to continue? Well, Family is a big reason why.

My definition of “family” starts with the “blood” relatives we’re all blessed to have, and grows to include those we choose to share the most intimate parts of our lives with.

So, as much as there’s part of me that will always first be Svoboda, Waeckerle or Basile, there’s an equally growing part of me that is Post, Bartels and Faflick.

My parents were the first to introduce me to the idea of Faith, and they continue to be the greatest single example of what that faith can do. On January 5, they’ll celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary.

And through things both big and small – through tithing and ushering, through greeting and distributing communion – they continue to carve a path I can’t help but want to follow.

On January 11, just days after that anniversary, they’ll open a new chapter of their lives by moving into a gorgeous new apartment in Overland Park, and they’re even doing THAT with incredible love for one another and faith in their own future together.

My blood family also includes my younger siblings – Brian and Ruthie – who continue to demonstrate faith and love in more ways than I can count. Their loving families are something I envy, and their belief in their spouses and siblings is second to none.

I miss having Brian, Jill and Cori in the Midwest. That’s for sure. But knowing that the person who has been my best friend since his birth in October 1966 is just a phone call away is VERY comforting. And having the owner of the world’s best laugh just across town in Olathe is a blessing.

Brian and Jill have done a tremendous job with Cori, who is graduating from college in May. Damn, how did that happen? I was just rocking her in my favorite glider rocker days ago…or was that over 20 years ago?

And with Steve alongside, Ruthie has done a fabulous job of raising two kids in Henry and Abby that are smarter than this Uncle David (they have two Uncle Dave’s…ain’t they lucky??) ever could have hoped to be.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t include my Aunt Roberta and her family, and my Uncle Cy and his, as part of the group that makes me whole. It’s blood, but it’s way more than that.

There’s no common blood shared by me and those five incredible members of my “adopted” family, the Posts, but there’s a love there that is so deep it’s hard to adequately put into words.

In March 2015, Hunter came into my life through Delta Sig. In the weeks, months and years since then, Natalie, Mark, Trayton and Taryn (and Hunter’s girlfriend Carrie) have each carved out a place in my heart that will be theirs forever.

Hunter, Trayton and I now share a brotherhood – through Delta Sig – that’s to be shared for a lifetime. That bond is tremendous, but the love I have for each of them goes beyond fraternity. If I was to have sons of my own, I couldn’t possibly have created two young people this “perfect” in their own ways.

And in Natalie and Mark, I have a “second” brother and “second” sister that I’ve enjoyed the heck out of sharing time, laughter, tears and a heck of a lot of food and drink with over the past 15 months.

And then there’s Taryn, who would be just the kind of daughter I would have dreamed of having…just like her brothers would have been my dream sons. And Carrie fits that description, too!

Yes, I love me some Posts (and a Mulder).

And I love me some Bartels’, too.

Way back in what seems like eons ago, I was a groomsman in Dan and Rachel’s wedding. And then, like friends sometimes do, we fell out of touch.

But family has a way of finding its way back together, and I eventually found my way – first through DJ – back to Dan, Rachel, DJ, Stephen and Ashley.

There was a reason Dan and I first became friends in the late 1980s. He’s loyal and level headed, loving and prideful.

And he hasn’t changed. He’ll be the first to tell you, however, that Rachel is the glue that holds him, and his family, together. She’s great.

And DJ and Stephen join their dad, my brother Brian, Hunter and Trayton as my Delta Sig brothers. We’re one big, happy, Pyramid-loving group of YITBOSses.

Again, there’s a love from me toward DJ and Stephen that goes beyond fraternity.

And Ashley joins Taryn as someone who will always be someone I look out for as I would a daughter of my own.

Then there’s that Faflick guy. Nate isn’t attached to a family I’ve “thrust myself into”…at least not yet.

But there are very few people on planet Earth who will hug you like that guy will. You won’t find a more genuine, loving person than Nate. And again, though there are decades between us in age, I think of him as a brother, a son…as family.

And the third “F” – Fraternity – does not end with my blood brother Brian, the Post boys, the Bartels boys, or my buddy Nate. No, it just grows stronger and stronger by the day.

Men like Randy Withrow, Keith Ely, Kent Ely, Dave Ott, Brad Bodine, Rob Brune and countless others will ALWAYS be the backbone of my Delta Sig existence. But newer brothers like Pierce Stephens, Joey Wenberg, Mario Garcia, Matt Mindrup, Colby Works, Avery Bolar, and a group of “Rho Bros” will also be forever part of who I am.

Yeah, A LOT of these relationships – with family, and in the fraternity – did nothing but grow and get stronger in 2017.

And the friendships I have beyond fraternity – with those current and past work colleagues, with my former students and student-athletes, and with countless others – are all things that sustained me and helped me grow in the year gone by.

So, yes, there are LOTS of reasons I’m sad to see 2017 in the rearview mirror.

But each of the 4 Fs aren’t going anywhere, and as long as I have Faith, Family, Fraternity and Friendships, the date on the calendar won’t matter.

It’s the love that sustains me.

To each of you, thanks. And Happy New Year.



My voice will be heard for my brothers in Delta Sigma Phi…and brothers to be

In June 1982, my life changed forever.

It was then that my dream of attending the University of Kansas – of becoming a Jayhawk – was snuffed out faster than you can say “Rock Chalk.”

I was a co-valedictorian at a medium-sized Kansas Class 5A high school. Not a big deal, but a 4.0 GPA for four years HAD to mean something, right?

Well, in the eyes of those at KU, evidently not. My ACT composite score, a 28, wasn’t going to turn any heads, but I thought the 4.0 was proof positive that I worked my ass off – despite being somewhat limited in certain areas academically.

I succeeded where others may not have.

Thank the Lord for Kansas State University.

K-State, it seemed, liked the idea of a young person overcoming deficiencies and succeeding at the highest level.

K-State, it seemed, rewarded young people who fit this description.

K-State, it seemed, was going to become my new home. All that crimson and blue was going to end up at Goodwill. I was trading it in for royal purple and white.

If I could find a place to live.

And it couldn’t be a dorm. I was lost enough socially as it is. I’d have drowned in a dorm.

Thank the Lord, again, for the miracle that was and is Delta Sigma Phi.

By the end of July 1982, I was a Delta Sig pledge. Yes, they called us “pledges” back then. We weren’t “new member candidates” or “new members.”  We were pledges, plebes…or worse. And it was the most awesome thing on Earth.

Delta Sig gave this self-confessed social outcast (some things haven’t changed much in the 35 years since, come to think of it) a place I could call home. Delta Sig gave me an instant set of brothers – black, white, gay, straight, drunk, sober, intelligent, less so….

You get the picture.

And 35 years later, Delta Sig is still giving me gifts I can never hope to repay – though I’ll keep chasing that elusive ideal of paying back all that Delta Sig has given me until the day I die.

Early next month, I’ll attend my FIRST Delta Sigma Phi National Convention.

Those of you who are Delta Sigs are probably awfully confused right about now. Yes, it’s true: someone who LOVES his fraternity with all of his heart, all of his soul, and would do just about anything for a handful of men who have become MORE than brothers to me HAS NEVER attended the largest celebration his fraternity throws for itself.

And that’s another reason I love Delta Sig: the idea that I can simply “be me” without having to answer a ton of questions.

The first few conventions I missed (as I remember it, anyway) were because I simply had given too much of my life to coaching baseball. National conventions were during the summer months, and I was not doing ANYTHING that took me off of a baseball diamond.

Missing those conventions probably also had a little to do with being so socially awkward (or maybe A LOT to do with it), but it was a matter of priorities. My fraternity was always going to be there. It was a rock. It was a constant.

But now, that constancy is being threatened on campuses across the nation.

The very idea of fraternity is at risk, and in many places, fraternity men have no one but themselves to blame.

That’s why the drought is about to end for me.

No, I haven’t quit coaching baseball – I’ve been doing that for 36 straight years! But I have abandoned the idea that my fraternity will always be there, that it will always be my rock, my constant.

I’ve simply decided that Delta Sig means too much to me to remain on the sidelines while fraternity and sorority life is in peril on campuses across this great nation.

I can’t affect sweeping change. I’m not that powerful. I don’t give enough money to Delta Sig, Kansas State or any organization to swing a big stick.

But my voice can, and will, be heard.

There’s too much at stake for it not to be heard, too many men who have become too important to me to see those relationships forever altered – or snuffed out before they even get started.

I want to have the chance to be WHEELED into an Alpha Upsilon Alumni Reunion in the year 2052 at age 88 and share stories of a life that was made all the more remarkable by the concept of brotherhood.

Yes, my voice can, and will, be heard.

It will be heard for Dr. Pat Bosco, my first Delta Sig mentor. Dr. Bosco spent so much time with a homesick kid whose parents were just 60 miles away that he should have received a Congressional medal of honor 10 times over….and that was in just my first semester at K-State!

It will be heard for Randy Withrow, my long-time Delta Sig roommate, best friend, and the one person in my life who can complete my sentences for me…even if we’re apart for weeks, months or years at a time.

It will be heard for my biological brother, Brian, who I became closer to during my days at Delta Sig than I ever had been during nearly 16 years of sharing the same bedroom growing up. There’s something about our Delta Sig brotherhood that drew us together in ways that blood never could.

It will be heard for Cliff Veatch, whose life was taken far too soon by cancer. Cliff was by far the most-talented Delta Sig undergrad I was fortunate enough to share 1100 Fremont with – no offense to any of the other great men there with us. If Cliff were alive today, he’d have a prominent role in the National fraternity and a starring role in everything he was involved with.

It will be heard for Jack Taylor, the man with a laugh that could fill the halls of The Pyramid like no one before or since. Jack, too, was gone way too soon. But not before his love was shared with countless K-Staters and Delta Sigs. Besides Pat Bosco, Jack probably touched more lives on the K-State campus than anyone I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.

It will be heard for Hunter Post, a young man who I’ve known for just 26 months, but someone who I can say without hesitation was the one who grabbed the match and tossed it on my simmering Delta Sig flame. That fire, it can be said, has now fully engulfed this 53-year-old.

It will be heard for Trayton Post, Hunter’s brother and a kid who hasn’t yet started his college career. I love Trayton, just like I do Hunter, like I would a son. And I want Trayton to experience all the wonder that Delta Sig has to offer. I want for him what I found in 1982 and found again in 2015.

And it will be heard for Dan Bartels, Brad Schultz, Dan Prohaska and hopefully others just like them – all men I spent time with at Delta Sig as an undergrad who now either have sons who are brothers (kinda neat how that happens) or sons who soon will be. DJ, Stephen, Braden and Luke should be allowed to experience the joy their fathers did – or will – when THEIR sons become their brothers.

Yes, my voice can, and will, be heard.

Delta Sigma Phi isn’t simply a social organization. Delta Sigma Phi isn’t just a beat up old hospital building across from City Park. Delta Sigma Phi isn’t only a place to hang out for a few years and leave in the rear view mirror.

No, my friends – no, my brothers – Delta Sigma Phi is a transformative organization like no other anywhere on this planet. Delta Sigma Phi is brotherhood defined. Delta Sigma Phi is, to paraphrase a line from Field of Dreams, “everything that is good about fraternity, and could be again.”

The Delta Sigma Phi whose convention I will attend in a little less than a month is far from perfect. And heck, I’ve got myself at least partially to blame for that. I’m the one who was “gone” for a period of years before returning those aforementioned 26 months ago.

But the Delta Sigma Phi whose convention I will attend in a little less than a month is loyalty, honor, respect, friendship and love in one great big gift that just keeps on giving.

Yes, my voice can, and will be heard. And it will be heard for men named Pat, Randy, Brian, Cliff, Jack, Hunter, Trayton, Dan, Brad, Dan, DJ, Stephen, Braden, Luke…and thousands of others whose lives have yet to connect with mine.

Thanks to the fine folks at the University of Kansas – and their snub of 35 summers ago – I received the gift of a lifetime.

I received the gift of Delta Sigma Phi. And it’s a gift I intend to fight to keep.

YITBOS, to those who know.

“Resist” no more: Work at making our Catholic faith your own in today’s world

A few of my Catholic friends and I are reading Matthew Kelly’s Resisting Happiness this Lent as a way of sharing our faith.

Today, as we got underway on Ash Wednesday, we encountered what Kelly calls “resistance.” The concept is at the center of the book, and in many forms, it is what ails the Catholic church itself right now.

How does resistance impact the Catholic faith? The answer, I believe, lies in the idea that many of us fail — on a daily basis — to truly make the faith our own.

Through the years, I’ve seen several people I’m close to — inside my own family and out — leave the Catholic faith “in search of” what they term “a better fit” for their spiritual needs.

As Catholics, they met resistance in its many forms and chose to deal with it by seeking out something different — instead of using that resistance as a call to change themselves, or how they experience the faith, in a way that would allow them to remain part of the church in which they were raised.

Through my recent dealings with some extremely talented young people at K-State, I’ve heard a common refrain: the Catholic church doesn’t meet all of my needs.

Here’s where I’d love to see them — and the older Catholics who may have “faith shopped” and left the church — undertake a process in which they overcome that resistance and make the Catholic faith truly their own.

Here are a few examples of how they might do that:

  1. Volunteer to be part of the Mass. Usher. Be a lector. Sing in the choir. Distribute communion. During my days at St. Isidore’s in Manhattan, I was as close to God in every facet of my life as I’ve ever been. And I think that was, in large part, because I was completely immersed in the “process.” I absolutely loved lectoring, and need to get back to doing it again!
  2. Get “into” the weekly readings…and maybe into the Bible for the first time. One of the things I’ve attempted to do with some of my K-State friends is to provide them a Missal so that they might have the weekly readings at hand prior to…and during…the Mass. In too many Catholic churches, attendees sit idly by during the First and Second Readings — and the Gospel reading, for that matter — rather than fully engaging in what is being shared. And for years, those of us who grew up as “old school” Catholics resisted reading the Bible. It was “something those of other faiths” did on a regular basis. I really spent little or no time in reading the Bible myself until my participation in Christ Renews His Parish while living in Lenexa. It was then, in 2012, that I “gave myself permission” to do something that I had heretofore considered to be “un-Catholic.”
  3. Seek out Homilies worth listening to. If you’re not hearing a Homily each week that moves you, get online and find one! Several of the best Catholic priests in the country post their Homilies, and time spent listening to those podcasts or watching those YouTube videos is time well-spent!
  4. Put together a small group of Catholic friends…and grow the group naturally. It doesn’t matter what brings you together. It could be the desire to really break down the four Gospels. It might be the need to find someone to work with on a philanthropic endeavor. Or it simply might be a need to remind yourself of how beautiful the Catholic faith was when you first learned of its rich history and traditions.

What “overcoming resistance” comes down to, in regard to how we grow our Catholic faith, is really fairly simple.

We each need to remember what drew us to our faith in the first place. We need to take a trip back in time to when that faith was fresh, when it was exciting, when it was filled with wonder. We need to celebrate the traditions that make our shared Catholic faith unlike any other, anywhere.

In short, we need to resist the notion that it’s better to leave our Catholic faith than to work at making it our own, where we’re at TODAY.

Resist no more, my Catholic friends. Our faith is there in all of its beauty, to be rediscovered and redefined — for you, and by you.


There’s a lot to admire about today’s K-State Delta Sigs

If you’ve known me for any period of time, you’re no doubt aware of my membership in — and love for — the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity.

I pledged in 1982, became a brother in January 1983, and have enjoyed every day I’ve spent as a member of the Alpha Upsilon Chapter.


But it was only recently that my passion for my fraternity and chapter were strongly rekindled. I’ve spoken to that in other posts, and in other forums, so I won’t bore you with a re-hash of those things here.

What I thought I’d do this morning — and I’m writing this as I sit in New Lounge at the house — is rattle off a few of the things I admire about those Delta Sigs (current members and young alumni) I’ve met in the last 20 months or so.

I admire…

  • The obvious affection and love these men have for one another. Keeping with the University-wide theme of FAMILY, these guys very obviously share something together that is special. And it goes beyond mere friendship.
  • The incredible desire these men have to give back to their communities and the world at large. I know we have had several Alpha Upsilon Delta Sigs involved on a national and international basis in a variety of activities through the years, but this “current crop” is exceptional. There simply is no limit to what each can achieve.
  • The ability of these men to dream…and do. I have to admit, when I was at K-State, I was concerned with getting a degree and then finding a good job. And that was my fairly narrow focus. These guys are planning ways to make an impact on world hunger, discovering new methods for treating — and curing — disease, and dreaming of the day they can make an impact on fraternity and sorority life around the country that will be lasting and real.
  • The way each of these men seemingly immerses himself in the situation and community he is in. I’ve lived in metro Kansas City for 14 years, and yet I’ve done more “in and around my city” in the past 12 months than I did for the previous 156. The reason for that? Some of these guys. The things they do in KC, the places they visit, the fun they have…it’s all worth emulating.
  • The willingness of some of these men to let a guy who is 30+ years older than most of them into their lives in meaningful ways. When I was in school, I was no doubt impacted by those older than me. Heck, another Delta Sig — Dr. Pat Bosco — was one of my two biggest influences at K-State. And, yes, I’ve met them more than halfway in my desire to build meaningful relationships, but there has to be some reciprocation…and there has been.
  • The fact a great majority of these men see membership in Delta Sigma Phi as a launching point to becoming better men leading better lives. Sure, you never really know what the future holds, but if current involvement is any indicator, these men will be the doctors, lawyers, politicians, architects, engineers, teachers and first responders that make the remaining decades of my life fuller and more meaningful.

I hope that in the coming days and weeks, more of my alumni brothers will join me in “coming home” to the Alpha Upsilon Chapter of Delta Sigma Phi. As they do, they’ll find a group of men worthy of building relationships with — for now and in the long term.

They’ll find a group of men that’s easy to admire.

LOVE: That scary, four-letter word that we need a lot more of right now

In 2002, I attended my 20th high school class reunion in Salina.
At a mini “awards presentation” that was part of the accompanying social function at the Salina Country Club, I was voted “most changed” by my classmates.
Seems as if my fellow Mustangs weren’t quite ready to see the formerly 160-pound David checking in at over 250 pounds. Or the David that never consumed a beer before college drinking like he’d been doing it forever.
Six years out from my 40th reunion, I really want to shock them in 2022.
My closest high school friends likely remember me as “emotionally distant” at best. I didn’t date in high school (heck, I really didn’t date in college), and I rarely — if ever — got excited about anything.
Over the past six years, however, I’ve begun a careful process of “re-creating” myself.
Oh, the heck with that notion. Let’s just say that I’ve continued to grow and evolve — as we all should.
Part of my evolution has involved my more-frequent use of a four-letter word that I’ve never really dealt all that well with.
No, I’m not using damn, f*ck, Hell or shit any more (or any less) frequently than I have been.
But I am using the word LOVE with a lot greater regularity recently. And I think it may have more than a few people amazed…and confused.
There probably isn’t a singular reason for this change in my approach to “the L word.”
Death has robbed me of grandparents, young men I’ve coached, former students, teaching colleagues and other close friends.
I’m not alone in having to deal with loss.
But I’ve found myself spending more time after each loss pondering if I did enough while each of these people were alive to let them know how much I LOVED each one of them.
And with this world growing seemingly crazier by the day, I’ve made a promise to myself to ponder NO MORE.
I’ve spent the past 20 years watching the two most significant male figures in my life — my dad, Gregg, and my maternal grandfather, Charlie — become more emotionally, physically and spiritually loving. And it’s been an awesome transformation to view from a front row seat.
That growth on the part of each of my dads — my dad and my granddad — really pushed me toward making a pact with myself that I was going to change, too.
And when I reconnected with my fraternity at K-State 16 months ago — and this time for good — I instantly had a group of over 100 brothers who were about the age my own kids would be…had I ever gotten around to getting married and having any.
So I’ve had the chance to be more loving and say the word LOVE around my family a lot more lately, and to show love to a group of young men who at times have had a hard time understanding where that love comes from.
My definition of love is probably closest to that found at dictionary.com: “a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.”
In other words, I’m not just going to tell every Tom, Dick, Harry, Sally, Judy or Beth that I love them.
For me, there has to be a period of shared experience(s) that goes beyond the norm. The word LOVE does, after all, have to really mean something.
I also think that the love defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is just about what I’ve been searching for — and hope to provide in abundance for my family and friends in the days to come:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Recently, a close friend — yes, someone who I love — suggested that I read Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages. I jumped right in, and ended up subsequently also reading The Five Love Languages for Singles.
Both of these books have convinced me more than ever that my determination to love — and to use the word LOVE — more frequently is a good thing.
But to really love someone, and for both sides to benefit from that love, you have to be able to communicate that love in someone else’s “language.”
So I probably freaked out more than a few close friends by recently sending them a little synopsis of The Five Love Languages and asking them to take an assessment of their own “love languages” so that I could communicate with them better.
I wasn’t asking any of them to spend the rest of their lives with me. I was just making an admittedly awkward attempt to a.) tell them that I thought they were worth loving; and b.) find out how to best show them the love I thought they were worthy of receiving.
It probably all comes right back to “comfort level,” and to personal definition of that word that sends spirits soaring like none other — and yet can lead to awkward silence and confusion, all at the same time.
Awkward silence is something those high school classmates were — and are — probably used to when it came to knowing the “old David.”
And yet this “most changed” David isn’t going to spend a lot of time worrying about making someone a bit uncomfortable by telling that someone that “I love you.”
Because we can all use a whole lot more LOVE in our lives.
And if you’ve made it this far in this blog, I’m guessing you might LOVE me, too. It’s OK. I might have “changed” a bit through the years, but I’d like to believe I’m more worth loving than ever before.

Take time to let those closest know how you feel…and do it daily!

Both of my maternal grandparents would have turned 100 in April.

That fact, along with the recent death of a beloved fraternity brother – and the reality that my parents are both well into their 70s – has had me thinking a lot lately about love and loss.

But what it really got me to thinking about is how we might express that love to those we care about while they’re still with us.

I’m an interesting case study.

In my 18 years as a high school teacher and coach, I often wrote short notes of congratulations to students and student-athletes after strong semesters in the classroom.

I also made no secret to many of my athletes that I loved them as I would members of my own family.

But it’s that very family that all too often took a backseat to my job, and to those who weren’t “blood.”

Over the nearly five years since I left teaching, I’ve become much better at telling those closest to me how I feel about them. My parents, my siblings, my nieces and nephew, and my aunts, uncle and cousins have a much better feel for the way I feel about them. And it was long overdue.

So, folks, it is possible to teach an old (51) dog new tricks.

My recent return to writing – in notes, blogs, etc. – has been spurred in part because of the desire I have to make sure that the young people I’m in contact with can learn from my mistakes. And because I hope they’ll follow my lead and let those closest to them know about it.

I had a great phone conversation recently with a young fraternity brother. This 20-something young man is typical of the fantastic men who inhabit the K-State chapter of Delta Sigma Phi. He’s bright, caring and has his priorities in the right place.

And yet, like all of us from time to time, he needed to be reminded to take a moment to let those closest to him know just how he feels about them.

As college students – heck, as human beings in general – we’re sometimes overwhelmed with things… many that had to be done yesterday.

Tests. Dances. Meetings. Parties. Projects. Games. Graduations. Celebrations. Funerals.

Whoever it was that said life comes at you in a hurry wasn’t kidding.

But it’s time for everyone reading this to hit the brakes.

I’d like to challenge everyone reading this to take five minutes each day to reach out to those you’ve chosen to have as part of your lives.

We have so many “friends” these days due to social media, organizations we’re a part of, teams we join, etc. Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and texting, I’m seemingly spending more time than ever before reaching out to those I care about.

And that’s the point.

It’s easier than ever before to let those around us know how much we care. And it takes virtually no time at all.

Don’t just hit “like” on a Facebook post. Write a comment instead.

Don’t just hit the heart on an Instagram photo. Take the time to personalize a reply.

Don’t just text someone with something that needs to be said, but might get lost in translation. Use the same number that you’re texting to and call that person.

Again, though I’m getting better at this myself, I often fall short. But now, I’m doing a much better job at overcoming my shortcomings and addressing them.

For example, many of you may have read my recent blog regarding the K-State spring football game, and the wonderful experiences I had surrounding it.

But many of those who I spoke of in the blog had no way of knowing what I said about them. I let others know how much I cared about a group of people, but I failed to let those folks know it themselves.

One of those people is Pat Bosco, who is known to K-Staters for a myriad of reasons. He’s known to me as a dear friend, and the one who opened the door to Delta Sigma Phi for me 33 years ago this summer.

After I posted the blog, I realized that what I said about Pat in those paragraphs needed to be seen by Pat himself. Thus, I sent him an email with a pair of blog posts, including the one about the spring game.

His email reply made my decision worthwhile. It’s private, but rest assured it cemented my decision to make sure I continued to do the kind of things I’m urging each of you to do through this post.

None of us is perfect. Heck, I’ve lost more jobs in the last six years than I had in the entirety of my life to this point.

But each of us has the chance to take five minutes out of his/her day to show love and caring to others. And our words are an extremely strong – yet extremely easy – way of doing just that.

At the end of that telephone conversation with that young fraternity brother – the one where I shared my advice about reaching out to those closest to him, and about taking time to do so each day – I stopped just short of fully practicing what I preached.

But five minutes later, I picked up the phone and texted him this simple message: “Love ya, bud.” Well, my iPhone’s spell check corrected it to “Love ha, bud,” but the message was received.

If only we took the time on a daily basis to reach out.

Those maternal grandparents I spoke of to start this piece died within seven months of each other at the end of 2001 and the start of 2002.

One of the things I’ll always remember about each was the distinctive handwriting they both had. It’s one of the things I miss most.

And though I’d love to see those young people I’m blessed to know today take the time to write notes, cards, etc., I’ll settle for an electronic “signature” from time to time.

I think Charles, Virginia, Jack, Gregg and Suzy would approve.

And if you’re reading this, please know that although I may not say it enough, I love each of you.

That’s what this is really all about, after all.