Wake-up calls exists…momentum, not so much

Sports commentators are lazy. Every stinking contest, there’s momentum. They just scored twice–momentum is on their side. Oh, momentum propelled the comeback. Blah, blah, blah.

It’s lazy announcing, it ignores math principles like regression to the mean and…it’s just plain wrong.

A discussion on a volleyball forum got me to go back and dig up numbers I researched for a proposed AVCA seminar. The seminar was rejected as ‘not having a wide enough interest’. Whatever. But I never throw away anything…there’s always use for old data and new ways to look at it. Time offers perspective we don’t have as something is in the instant of happening.

So–with volleyball, you inevitably will hear announcers say “Oh, they won the 4th set, so they have momentum going into the 5th set”. If that’s true, then the team that wins the 4th set should clearly win more than 50% of 5th sets, right?

Nope.

Going through NJCAA and NCAA post-seasons, I went backwards until I had 100 five-set matches to look at. Why 100? So that I could avoid doing math on a calculator.

(Also–consider following the blog, please…you won’t get solicited or anything, but it helps me with metrics behind the curtain)

What was the winning percentage of teams that won the fourth set? It should be higher than 50% since they have momentum, right? And if it isn’t, anything between 45-55% is probably just random variation, the +/- 5% you always see as a disclaimer with research or polling.

The answer:

19%.

That’s not a typo. It says nineteen.

That means the team that lost the fourth set won 81% of the fifth sets. Weirder still, a large margin of defeat in the fourth set had no real effect on the fifth set’s results. A team blown out in the 4th set still won 80% of the 5th sets.

Momentum is total bull hockey.

Now, I get it–I limited myself to 100 matches total. None of this is complete. It’s possible I screwed something up somewhere. I don’t think so though.

But–this then leads to another issue. The other conventional wisdom is that deciding-sets are always 50-50 affairs. A 81-19 split is far from a 50-50 thing. So what’s up?

I think it’s the big picture. In most cases going into a match, you can identify the ‘better’ team. So, if the better team wins 2/3 of the time–they are most likely to win any one set–so that by the time you get to the 4th, one team is likely up 2-1…and it’s probably the better team. That means the winner of the 4th set is likely to be the weaker team–and that the 5th set reverts to the ‘norm’–and the better team wins.

What it means is–the OTHER announcer cliche regularly mentioned, “Giving that game up has to be a wake-up call for Team X”–which is the opposite of momentum when you really look at it–is accurate.

Conclusion: Momentum doesn’t exist. Wake-up calls do.

Iowa State: Poker with Paul (and the guys)

I really ought to write more about Iowa State stuff…probably will with time.

Once again, the subject of this memory is my friend Paul Eichinger. He’s been mentioned elsewhere–running from birds or actually dining.

I think it was the start of Spring semester, 1989. It blurs after so much time. I know it definitely took place up on Niles-Foster in Friley…though I don’t remember if it was Brian Olsen’s room or Keith Kolmos’. It was actually a life-changing night for me.

We decided to play poker. Nothing big–pennies and nickels. No one had more than a couple bucks, so no worries–it was more about hanging out with friends for a good night of games and BS–and that’s how it went for a couple hours.

And then we played a poker-type game called guts. The gist is that you put your money in, take your cards, count to three, and if you drop them, you’re out and if you hold onto them, you have to add to the pot whatever’s already in the pot. That means sticking around can get expensive. 10 cents becomes 20 cents becomes 40 becomes 80….now if you’ve got 5 guys playing…you see?

Now the beauty of this is, I wound up with a freakin’ impossible hand. I had four kings. There’s no way someone is going to beat that–so I knew I was in for the duration. The thing is as others started dropping, Paul didn’t. He stayed in–and he had his shit-eatin’ grin on his face–Paul was never good at bluffing, by the way. He said, “Jim, you need to drop. Really.”

Of course, I had four kings…I’m not dropping. So I replied, “No, Paul…you’re going to lose, just get out of this now.”

Penny poker. Hands worth 15-20 cents. Ummm…penny poker got up to $10. We decided that was enough–any more than that was too big…hah–$10 was too much if this was just penny poker, but neither one of us would back down.

Like you see in the movies, I put my cards down with a smirk: K-K-K-K-7….BoOM–easy money.

And then Paul put his cards down. I only saw four of them: A-A-A-A.

Yeah…jerk had four f-ing aces.

Since none of us brought that money to the game–I’d have to owe Paul. I gave him a stinking IOU. God, I hate IOUs. I told him I’d take care of it…I don’t recall if he believed me or not…I bet he did since I don’t renege on bets. So, first thing Monday morning, I went to the bank and got myself 1,000 pennies and took them to Paul’s room.

Oh, the look on his face! It was totally awesome and worth it. The only thing I remember him saying as he laughed, “You know, you’re really a dick.” We had a good laugh.

The thing is–other than paying him in an obnoxious fashion–I learned a big lesson that night. I don’t gamble. Ever. All it takes is one surge of emotion or cockiness, one wild twist of odds (like his four aces) and in the wrong circumstances, you’re broke or worse. Nope–that ended the allure of poker and cards for me. The only time after that I played poker was for my bachelor party—and for that we set a grand total of $25 to be involved. I’ve stuck with the ‘no gambling’ now for 32 years–thank God. I saw what gambling has done to people, including my stepfather. It’s a horrible addiction.

I should also note–this is now a happy memory–I appreciate the time with my friends and I wish I would have savored it more in the moment, but that’s hard to do when you are 20 but in the end, that ten dollars has provided a lifetime of chuckles and good reminiscing!

Iowa State, My OTHER Dinner with Paul

I went to dinner once with Paul in Dungeon (the basement cafeteria in Friley) at Iowa State. We had other people with us–usually did when it was dinner time. Normally we’d go to Windows, but if the line there was too long–Dungeon was normally quicker…just no view of anything.

Dinner with friends was rarely a really quick thing. There’d always be a bunch of talking and procrastinating, typical college stuff. Sometimes people came late and took the spot of people who had night class or needed to be someplace in which case, if you had nothing to do, you sat with those guys until they were done. If someone else came along, you left, and let the late arrival stay with the latest arrival–so no one ever had to eat alone.

So we had one night down in Dungeon where Paul was at the far end of a rectangular table from me…ten feet? I don’t remember the table size. It was one of those nights where you knew things were done because people (we) started throwing pieces of cereal and stuff across the table. One person–Brian Olsen??– told another (Ed???) that he could shoot a piece of cereal into Ed’s glass then took his cereal bits and slam-dunked them into Ed’s drink. Ed, rightfully, said that wasn’t taking a shot.

At the far end of the table, Paul made a wisecrack, “Okay, Dietz, if you shoot your napkin into my glass, I’ll give you five bucks.” It wasn’t a bet–I owed nothing if I failed. I let fly–nothing but glass. I could not have done that again with 100, 1,000, 5,000 more shots. Total silence at the table…then Paul started his agitated stammer, “I’m not *expletive* paying you. You can’t make me pay you *expletive* for that.”

He never did pay me that money. Bastard.

🙂

Administratium

We’re talking the mother of bureaucracies, we’re talking: administratium.

The heaviest element known to science was recently discovered by investigators at a major U.S. research university. The element, tentatively named administratium, has no protons or electrons and thus has an atomic number of 0. However, it does have one neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons and 111 assistant vice neutrons, which gives it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called morons.

Since it has no electrons, administratium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically as it impedes every reaction it comes in contact with. According to the discoverers, a minute amount of administratium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would have normally occurred in less than a second.

Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately three years, at which time it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which assistant neutrons, vice neutrons and assistant vice neutrons exchange places. Some studies have shown that the atomic mass actually increases after each reorganization.

Research at other laboratories indicates that administratium occurs naturally in the atmosphere. It tends to concentrate at certain points such as government agencies, large corporations, and universities. It can usually be found in the newest, best appointed, and best maintained buildings.

Scientists point out that administratium is known to be toxic at any level of concentration and can easily destroy any productive reaction where it is allowed to accumulate. Attempts are being made to determine how administratium can be controlled to prevent irreversible damage, but results to date are not promising.

Pass Quality and Hitting Efficiency (updated thru COVID21 stats)

Mainly because few coaches are willing to provide detailed numbers for other coaches to look at, I figured, “Why not do a blog showing the breakdown of the relationship between pass quality and hitting efficiency?”  Besides, it’s better than doing other paperwork and adult crap.  The first version of this is here.

Now–it’s important to realize that when you break VB passing down, using the scale of 3-2-1-0 does NOT provide an accurate assessment of the passes’ values.  3-2-1-0 suggests a 3 is 300% more valuable than a 1, 50% more valuable than a 2.  The reality is that a 3 is about 500% more valuable than a 1 and 25% more valuable than a 2.  Please keep this in mind!!  I say that because even though using a 5-4-1-0 system is a better use of passing stats as an evaluation tool, I’ve presented everything below in terms of 3-2-1-0 since that is what a majority of coaches continue to use (stop…just stop, please!).

The breakdown below goes:
3+2% / 1% / ZERO% / S-R Rating / Hit Eff % / Record

Co21:  65.6% / 24.6% / 9.8% / 1.94 / .204 Final Record: 17-5
2019:  67.1% / 23.4% / 9.5% / 2.01 / .181 Final Record: 32-18
2018:  71.4% / 20.8% / 7.8% / 2.05 / .256 Final Record: 29-14

2017:  76.0% / 19.1% / 4.9% / 2.12 / .237 Final Record: 37-7
2016:  73.6% / 20.2% / 6.2% / 2.11 / .232 Final Record: 40-9
2015:  70.7% / 24.2% / 5.1% / 2.20 / .270 Final Record: 40-6
2014:  77.4% / 15.6% / 7.1% / 2.09 / .243 Final Record: 25-18

Hmmm…so our season where we have the highest percentage of good/perfect passes has the worst W/L record. Oddly, the 2014/2018 numbers look alike.  I’m curious why we’ve dropped in our passing efficiency the last two years–it could be how they are evaluated…but the aced-rate–that’s not judgement.  On a 0-3 scale, it’s impossible to get it right, but it look like the ‘2’ quality passes have disappeared from our serve-receive.

So really–even though I’d concluded that the important thing is to convert 1s to 2s, more than converting anything to a perfect pass–perhaps it is more important to eliminate the aces/overpasses from the equation, that the priority on serve-receive simply has to be “get the ball up somewhere/anywhere” for a reasonably controlled second contact?  Kevin Hambly made an observation while he was at Illinois that the team that gets the most swings usually gets the most kills–and who gets the most kills determines the winner.

The alternative is that there is a ‘magic’ breakpoint somewhere between 6.2% and 7.1% of serve-receive passes that are ‘zeroes’ that significantly tilts the final record (presuming similar quality of competition). <–part of my initial writing on this in 2018, but now with two seasons of 9%+ getting aced, that’s clearly not the case.

Thoughts?


In any event, while you’re here…have you considered hitting the “FOLLOW” button?  And just as important, why not go buy a copy of Like Heck She Isn’t a Volleyball Player?  It’s under five dollars and it’ll make you think about volleyball (hopefully) in different ways…and your money goes to helping the Dietz Foundation help create the next generation of teachers and coaches!

Every day–find a way to enjoy yourself and learn!!!

The Easter Message

If you’re looking for the basics of Easter in terms of Christianity, the best place to start is the Book of Luke.

Also important, understanding the difference between Christian and “Christian”. The former is the true belief system as you find in the Old and New Testaments, the attempt to lead a life based on those values. The latter is what happens when those ancient scripts are applied selectively–and inevitably in an effort to create a different narrative which invariably is politically convenient.

Anyways…

The message of Easter is simple–>Jesus was executed, buried, and resurrected–and through that, believers are guaranteed eternal life in the Kingdom of God.

The problem is that I see numerous ‘spins’ put on this–and I realized what bothers me the most about them. They turn Jesus from a savior into a victim. Thus, those telling the story in this fashion glorify playing the victim, declaring you are a victim, and that as believers, you are inevitably being persecuted–and that to show your ‘Christianity’, you must fight back against this.

I’ve got a couple gripes with this.

#1: The New Testament doesn’t really teach that. Actually, Jesus is pretty specific in correcting views of his time regarding ‘an eye for an eye’. That was used to justify violence against a presume wrongdoer (when really the Old Testament wanted it used mainly as a deterrent against perjury…Deuteronomy as a whole provides the context). In Matthew, describing the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus outright says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42, Standard Version)

It’s not really about being a victim. It’s about being the bigger person. It’s about having the strength of your own beliefs that you don’t need to lash out–that you control yourself and that no one can take that from you. Jesus’ teaching is not just a way to be pacifist, it’s emphasizing personal discipline and inner strength!

#2: Jesus isn’t a victim. Not one iota. Jesus, in Christian terms, is the Son of God. In the other Abrahamic faiths, he’s a rabbi (yup, Jesus was a learned Jewish scholar) and a prophet of God (in Islam, his status is a small step behind Muhammad in importance). So–Jesus is important.

By playing up his victim status, we lose sight of who was in control of events. We also lose sight of Jesus’ refusal to act out–that in his crucifixion and death, he held true to his teachings (the passage above) and that death is not enough to take away the immutable truth he was teaching. Do we REALLY think Jesus was a victim? We shouldn’t. As much as he could be, he was in control. He accepted the path he was told to take and went willingly. No one was coerced.

–Personally, I think that not only did Jesus know Judas was approached to be a turncoat, but that Jesus encouraged Judas to do so–that Judas took the gold BECAUSE Jesus told him to…that otherwise, Judas would have remained loyal to Jesus’ teachings. Nope–Jesus was ‘in control’–and made sure Judas understood. I think that adds a level of tragedy–Judas remained loyal and by turning Jesus in, became hated and hanged himself–because it was never about the money.

So why do we teach he’s a victim? Because that’s how institutions maintain control. Don’t worry about your suffering here today–Jesus died so that eventually you’ll get eternal life. In the meantime, keep donating to my church so I can have a 20,000sq ft mansion or private jet (or lets you maintain the largest sex toy archive in the world…right in the heart of downtown Rome). Jesus isn’t a victim–he’s empowering.

#3:

Jesus’ story shouldn’t just be about the afterlife. The best lessons, the best stories are applicable to us as we live! The Easter story does that–though that’s never been mentioned, not once, any time I’ve been to an Easter service. Eternal life’s important, I get that–but…what about making things better here and now for me, my family, my community? I don’t think Jesus would want that ignored along the way.

I’ll use personal examples here:

EXAMPLE 1: *I built a volleyball program from dirt into a state-level team. I taught at that “Christian” school, emphasizing integrity and thinking…and out of nowhere, I was fired–lost my job coaching and teaching because a donor was upset at a letter-grade earned by his daughter…and her playing time on the court…and then the parent applied pressure at the club I started and…out the door I went there, too. Worse–the head priest then called two other schools I applied to work at telling them to not hire me. This left me unemployed and at a loss–because I hadn’t done ANYTHING wrong. I was at rock bottom.

And then–I applied for a job far from home. That was Allen Community College. I was hired there two weeks into the 2004 season to coach and teach. I was there 18 months before my current position opened at LLCC. I’ve been a college coach now 18 years, able to help more than 100 young women get degrees, become leaders, and play some great ball.

My coaching career was wrongly terminated–yet I was able to start again in a better place, and able to thrive beyond what I had had at that “Christian” high school.

EXAMPLE 2: *I owned a business. I sold it and went to work for the purchaser. The purchaser hired someone to supervise me who turned out to be insanely incompetent. The purchaser racked up quite a bit of financial loss and it was determined I wasn’t pulling my weight, so I was let go to save money. From starting the business until termination, I’d put TWENTY years into the company. And then…gone.

I didn’t do anything about that for a couple years. I saw a couple of my products I’d sold to the purchased do well and I started thinking “Wow, I could’ve made a ton of money”…and then my brain snapped. My family is not in financial need (thankfully)–but I was missing running the business, helping designers bring their games to market, etc., so I started the Dietz Foundation. I’m making games again–but as a NON-PROFIT corporation. When I make money, it’ll go towards helping kids get their education degrees, help teachers learn how to use non-traditional means in the classroom. So–I had a successful company, lost it, yet here I am…building something better than what I had before.

Do you see how Easter should empower your own life?

And it’s not just about me–look at others from history who lost and then returned:

Martin Luther -excommunicated before creating Protestantism
Abe Lincoln -never could win an election…until he became President in his nation’s greatest time of need
Ulysses Grant -total business failure…but then rose to command Union armies and be Lincoln’s right-hand man
Steve Jobs -built Apple, got booted from it, then returned to turn it into the mega-corporation it is today.
Milt Hershey – Yup, you recognize the name…of course, he wanted to be a publisher and got fired from a printer before starting a candy company…that failed. His second…failed. So did his third. The Hershey Company–that was the fourth time Milt climbed off the floor.

Women’s History Month: Jackie Mitchell

Spring training has been around for more than a century. In preparation for baseball’s regular season, major league teams went south to Florida to prepare–where they weather would be warm and pleasant…much harder to prepare under a foot of snow…which can happen up north in March. Long ago, the regular season would begin in mid-April. As teams made their way north from spring training, they would play exhibition games. Occasionally these would be against Negro League squads, but usually they’d be against minor league teams also preparing for their competitive seasons.

The New York Yankees were scheduled to play one of those games on April 1, 1930 (yes, April Fool’s Day). The weather played a prank and the game was rained out, so the Yankees wound up playing the Chattanooga Lookouts the next day instead. The Lookouts’ starter was Clyde Barfoot, a 39-yr old who for the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals, but was mainly known for starring in the Pacific Coast and Texas Leagues (both high levels of competition in the first third of the 20th century). But these weren’t PCL players. These were the Bronx Bombers at the peak of their ability.

The first batter was Earle Combs who smacked a double off the outfield wall. The second batter was Ben Chapman who lined a single. Two pitches and it was already second-and-third, no one out. The Lookouts’ manager, John Niehoff (a former MLer who picked up 1,500+ wins as a minor-league manager) knew Barfoot had no chance–he called for a quick hook and brought in a new pitcher.

That pitcher was Jackie Mitchell. While there are many men who’ve played ball with the name ‘Jackie’, Mitchell wasn’t one of them–because Mitchell was a 17-yr old high school senior…who happened to be a young woman.

The next batter was Babe Ruth. Lou Gehrig stood on deck. Ruth took the situation as a publicity stunt. He took the first pitch. Ball, low. The second pitch? Ruth swung with all his might–nothing but air. Strike One. The third pitch? Whiff…strike two. One-two count, Mitchell went into her wind up. Ruth took the pitch as it curved over the plate for a called strike. Mitchell struck Babe Ruth out (In 1930, Ruth went 359-49-153). Ruth was furious–yelling at the ump that the ump needed to remember who Ruth was. The response–a strike’s a strike.

Now Lou Gehrig stepped into the box. Gehrig was younger than Ruth and was ready to pass Ruth as the most dangerous hitter in baseball (Gehrig put up 379-41-173 that season). Gehrig had no intention of waiting. He swung at the first pitch. And the second. And the third. He never made contact. With seven pitches, Jackie Mitchell had struck out the two greatest hitters of the 1920s-30s.

This shouldn’t be totally surprising—I’ve just left our a bit of the story. Mitchell had loved baseball from the moment she could walk and played with anyone who was willing. She’d play ball or play catch, too. It helped that her neighbor liked her and talking baseball with her. That neighbor happened to be a major leaguer, too (he’d lead the NL in ERA in 1930 and was put in the Hall of Fame in 1955). He was Dazzy Vance, a pitcher famous for his off-speed pitches and a ‘drop ball’. When he wasn’t off with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Vance was happily teaching Jackie Mitchell the intricacies of pitching–including the drop ball, so that when Mitchell took the mound, Ruth and Gehrig weren’t just facing some schmoe 17-yr old…they were facing a girl who had been taught multiple pitches, how to work the strike zone, and how to disrupt a hitter’s timing.

Afterwards, Ruth poo-pooed Mitchell, saying women were too fragile to play. Three days later, pressured by the Yankees’ ownership, the commissioner of baseball voided Mitchell’s contract with the Lookouts. She was no longer permitted to play for a team with any sort of affiliation with the major leagues. This should sound a bit like the story of Moses Walker… Eventually, in 1952, MLB banned women officially from being permitted to sign contracts (a ban that lasted 40 years)

Mitchell toured with a barnstorming team called the House of David for six years, quitting when the teams they played made a mockery of the game–asking her to pitch in a skirt rather than uniform, with a tiara, or from the back of an animal! When they formed the women’s pro league during World War Two, the league immediately came to Mitchell (who was only 30 then). She refused and remained retired.

Someday, perhaps, there will be women in the major leagues. It’s probably a tough road given the ever-increasing speeds and strength involved. The beautiful thing–women are being permitted in anyways, as teachers and managers (Kim Ng was just named the first female GM in history for the Miami Marlins)

Finally–I love baseball, but I’d never heard this story. How’d I find out about Mitchell? When one of my volleyball players mentioned her as a role-model/favorite athlete. I’d never heard of Mitchell, so I searched for her…and came across the amazing story….so a lot of thanks to Kate for exposing me to a part of baseball history I’d never seen before.

That’s this year’s set of Women’s History stuff. If you missed the other stuff on Women’s History, they are here:

Women’s History Month: The 6888th Battalion (WW2)
Women’s History Month: 23 And Me (Inspiration)
Women’s History Month – Elizabeth van Lew (US Civil War)
Women’s History Month: Agent 355 (American Revolution)
Women’s History Month: My Mom (Inspiration)
Women’s History Month: Pam and Ria (Baseball)
Women’s History Month: Mary Wilkins, RAF pilot (WW2)
Women’s History: The 3 Most Important Women in Western History (religion)
Women’s History Month: Casimir Pulaski (American Revolution)
Women’s History Month – the Soviet War Effort (WW2)

The Filibuster Must End

It’s been a while since I’ve written about anything political. Then again, we don’t have a bat-shit crazy guy trying to pervert the Constitution at every opportunity in the White House…less opportunity to write on this sort of stuff.

There’s debate about the filibuster in the US Senate and whether it should be eliminated…so:

First, the filibuster is a method used only in the US Senate to derail legislation and prevent it from passing. The short of it is a Senator files a notice he’s going to filibuster and then nothing happens until you’ve got at least 60 Senators who agree to move the issue forward. In a world of 51-49 antagonistic partisanship, that rarely happens.

It used to be that to do a filibuster, the senators involved would have to stand and speak–their time in debate is unlimited–so that as long as filibustering senators stand there, nothing else happens. One senator once read his mom’s cookbook into the record as he stood there. It’s known that there’d be efforts to spike water with salt and other methods to force the speaker to conclude before the end of the day.

In any event, it’s presumed filibusters have been present from the beginning–and that isn’t true. Doing some reading, that’s important to me. In the end, at heart, I am conservative (using the proper definition of the word). I also tend to care about what the original intent of the Constitution was and its creation–knowing full well that the 21st century is different than the heady days of 1787.

Did you know the filibuster didn’t exist until the 19th century? It was created from a clerical error basically when the rule regarding ‘how to end debate’ disappeared around 1805. No one cared in 1805–because people all understood that the purpose of the senate was to discuss, debate, and vote. And then a Southerner came along (most problems historically in the US government are because of rich white guys from the South, by the way) named John C. Calhoun. Calhoun was a brilliant legislative tactician–he realized there was no rule to end debate…boom, the filibuster began. It gummed up the works pre-Civil War and with Reconstruction and Southerners used the filibuster to stop all national civil rights legislation until 1964.

So why end it?
1 – It isn’t in the Constitution. It wasn’t in the Senate’s rules from the start. It’s clear that the creators of the Constitution believed legislation should be via majority decision. How do we know that? –because they spelled out VERY SPECIFIC circumstances as exceptions–impeachment and overriding a presidential veto for examples.

2 – It has been altered multiple times since 1964–including now where you register an intent to filibuster and never even have to speak or do anything. It is not what existed in 1805. Thus, we have further precedent for altering it or removing it.

3 – It has been abused repeatedly (coincidentally, almost always by Southern white men and the parties they control). It was used to prevent the creation of state universities, railroads connecting the continent, preventing settlers from moving west, preventing assistance to farmers in favor of protecting a specific crop grown in a minority of states in the 19th century…and that’s not even detailing the century-plus of preventing ‘all men are created equal’ from being enacted after the Civil War!

4 – Consistent, conservative philosophy. If we wish to have a government which works as originally intended, the filibuster does the exact opposite. Thus, it should be eliminated.

5 – Government of the people, by the people…the filibuster now promotes the tyranny of the minority. That is not government. That is oligarchy.

Taking Inspiration from Your Athletes

I wrote a piece previously about one of my favorite group of high school athletes ever–Emily B. Emily’s work ethic was amazing…though that’s not the fun part of the story.

I wrote something for Women’s History Month this March (2021) on the women I knew/know who motivate me and shape me. It’s not a complete list. After I completed it, I realized I have another alum who totally inspired me to give 110% for the team…and she’s gone on to be amazing after college, too.

So a long time ago (2014), I recruited a volleyball player. Not the best ever, not the worst–but her high school coach said good stuff about her–including about her as a person (that’s what is most important to me). Fair enough–we needed a middle and after watching her play, I figured we could develop her into a contributor during her two years as part of LLCC Volleyball. Perfect. Her name is Summer, by the way.

And then we got to summer. Summer went out and was running to work on being in shape for practice. She was out in the country, stepped on a pebble the wrong way (really), and suffered a horrific hip/torso injury. Her dad called me to tell me–I know it was horrible because I went to visit her in the hospital and got to see the X-Ray. Her bones were held together with more screws than an IKEA cabinet. I didn’t talk much with Summer there–she was apparently on a pretty high dosage of morphine.

My initial guess–Summer was done as an athlete.

Funny thing is–that’s what the doctors told her, too. Her response, “I’m a volleyball player.” She refused to accept what the doctors said. From the first day out of the hospital, Summer was doing everything she could to heal–doing everything the rehab people and orthos said. She wasn’t around for the start of practice in August, but she was there soon after…using a walker, taking steps barely 4″ in length. She fought through pain and discomfort and by September was doing well enough that she was at practice regularly and able to come to home games.

She still needed help walking when we made it to the National Championship–in the team photo, she’s in the back…she stood there for about 30 seconds without assistance, if I remember correctly. She may not have played–but she was absolutely part of the team. With the season over–she kept working. When spring came around, she was given permission to start with easy practice and before the end of spring, she’d even been able to participate in a spring match.

2016 was her sophomore year. As a coach, I can tell you the injury cost her some lateral mobility. Oh well…it didn’t stop her from playing–and because she was a good blocker, we used her as a right-side hitter. Her height let her swing over shorter opposition left-sides and effectively block taller ones. We made it to nationals again–with her in the starting lineup.

Starting…the young woman doctors said would only be able to walk…was starting in a national championship match. That wasn’t out of sympathy. During her sophomore year, she played 131 of 166 sets, picking up 71 blocks and 157 kills. Again–for a person told they were done as an athlete.

I was so proud of her comeback.

After LLCC, she stopped playing volleyball to focus on academics…except, of course, she’s been an assistant high school coach for her former LLCC assistant coach, Kallie Sinkus. Oh, yeah–the academics…Summer was just as committed to success there as on the court. She wound up going on to pick up a Master’s in Public Health and was in the whirlwind of everything in central Illinois this past year with the pandemic.

There are coaches and programs who tout their win-totals…but while I like winning, I prefer recruiting and coaching young women who go on to win at life, that go on to bigger and better things. When that happens, they make me SOOOOOO proud!

Family Memory (XVI): The Bank and the Great Depression

The Great Depression is presumed to start with the Stock Market Crash of October, 1929. Reality is more complicated. In Europe, it starts earlier. For American farmers, it starts earlier. For mid-sized businesses, it hits later.

For the Dietz family, it was the spring of 1931 that mattered.

At that point, my grandfather and great-uncle owned two businesses in addition to their farmland. The first was Economy Roofing and Insulating–a company they started in 1926 and remained in the family until my dad’s death in 1989 (it would still be in the family with me running it, save for an evil, immoral, and unethical stepmother, her biological son, and an incompetent judge…really–but that’s a story for another day and several alcoholic beverages).

**My great-uncle’s cool story is here.

The second was the Bank of Walcott–the only bank available in that town of 398. It wasn’t a big bank but it handled farmers’ money for everyone living in town or around Walcott….and that’s where this story comes in.

In late 1930, banks in the US started going bankrupt and closing and when they did, investors, those with savings in the bank, were losing everything they had there–and worse, without that money, they weren’t able to pay other bills and lost their homes, etc, because of this. When one bank closed, it caused a panic that drove others to their own banks to withdraw money as fast as possible.

That didn’t happen in Walcott–because of my grandfather and great-uncle’s reputations. They were men of integrity known to be as good as their word. When bank collapses began happening in Iowa, people started talking, wondering if they should pull their cash from their banks. Walcott was no different. The problem was–banks don’t keep all their cash on site. If everyone wants their money, the bank can’t do it…that’s the nature of banks.

My grandfather was pro-active. Eventually people would ask for their money and the bank would collapse when the cash couldn’t be paid out. So what did he do?

He took a list of everyone with money in the bank, got in a car, and went visiting…you can do that in a town of under 400 people. Heck, you can walk it (I know that from experience) if you want. When he went, Papa Dietz took with him a briefcase filled with cash. At each house, he spoke with the person who handled the money and the savings. He noted banks suffering rushes and panics, that he empathized when people didn’t get their money–and he directly asked if the person wanted their money back…and that he had enough to repay them in his briefcase.

It’s all about confidence. If a banker comes to you and tells you in your own home “Hey, if you want your money, here it is,” and then casually opens a briefcase chock full of cash–you’re going to feel safe. After all, if the bank was in trouble, they wouldn’t go around offering the cash to those with savings accounts. After a few days and meeting with *every* individual who had money in the bank, not a single individual took the money. They all expressed confidence in Phil and Don Dietz to manage the money through the coming storm–after all, they’d done okay with it already in the couple years since the whole stock market collapse started.

And so the Bank of Walcott survived.

The thing is–the bank was under the same pressures as all banks. The cash in that briefcase? It was the entire cash supply of the bank. The bank had no reserve beyond that. If there had been a rush, 90% of the people would have lost everything they had. Instead, 100% got to keep their money.

A bluff, absolutely. A white lie? Maybe, but necessary…but it worked and kept a whole lot of people from suffering.

That was 90+ years ago. I wish I had a way to find out what difference they made. I wish I knew how many other banks resorted to similar actions across the United States to survive.

The entire difference between prosperity and poverty was confidence–in each other as a community.