#LastPost @RoddBaxley @FO_SammyBatten December 30

Coach4aday blog posts are written by John Rancke and me. We write daily about leadership, food, people, music, our granddaughters, Lumberton NC, and things that pique our curiosity.

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December 30, 2018 Turn Out the Lights, The Party is Over (Thanks Dandy Don)

Post by John Rancke

Years ago I had the vision of working in the Sports Information Department at Carolina as an undergrad. I interviewed with the late Jack Williams, the Sports Information Director at that time. I also interviewed with the basketball office and the football office to be a student manager on one of those teams. I really was leaning towards the SID office.


I envisioned myself as the next Smith Barrier, the next Gene Warren, the next Mary Garber. I loved to write and I loved sports. I had spent 6 years keeping the football stats for Coaches Brooks and Read and I could keep a baseball score book that you could follow the game batter by batter weeks after the game from the details I kept on those score sheets.

Fortunately, I took the position with the basketball program and not in the SID office working under Jack Williams and Rick Brewer. I did not realize it at the time but the day to day deadlines for stories with no break was something my brain would not be able to comprehend long term.

I have one of those alphabet things that deal with Attention Deficit. I knew I had problems concentrating for years and would procrastinate but could produce at the last minute. That is not a healthy way to go through life but I survived. My co-workers in Wilmington had to figure out what was in my head because I could not get organized until the last minute so I could give out work assignments. It was all upstairs and I had problems getting the information out. It was exhausting and caused for some confusion for those co-workers. But I made it until retirement.

I started writing some on Facebook when I was emotionally moved by something such as the daily updates I did when Pam was sick back in 2012. Sit down and type, nor pattern, just let it flow from the brain through the fingers onto the paper. No rewrites, no editing, no facts necessary to be checked and rechecked. Just write it. I enjoyed it. It was therapy for me.

I would write on Facebook when one of my sports heroes died. I wrote emotionally about attending the Army Navy game back in 2013.

I wrote about Coach Brooks and Coach Read and Coach Smith and Coach Guthridge and Bunky and John and Stevie Collins, and James Hodges and Clyde Hatcher and Luke Blanton and my frat brothers Walter Vatcher and Ralph Walthall and their courageous fights against cancer. I wrote about Johnny Ussery down in Bluffton SC and his 10 year journey of Miracles as he and his family successfully fight the cancer that has amazed the most prominent specialists in the country. I wrote about Bill Sapp and the wives of all my coaches mentors and their sacrifice allowing their spouses to raise others kids while getting home late to the dinner table.

But you can’t (or at least I can’t) write on emotion everyday. I realized that very quickly in March of 2018. I was 3 months into a year-long commitment that I had made to Dan Kenney (another Coach in my life that I have learned so much from) to help him with his blog. Dan has been able to have written 365 blogs for 4 years on his own and we decided to split the 2018 blogs by him taking the odd days on the calendar and I would take the even days. Thank goodness he took the odd because that meant he had to do those that fell on the 31st of the month as well as those that came the next day on the 1st of the month. You have no idea how nice it was to skip a day.

I had no idea how tough it is to come up with 182 topics (give or take 1 or 2) and write about them. Music, food, the obscure, You Tube videos, cut and paste (y’all knew when I was doing that didn’t you”.)

Alice in Wonderland went down the rabbit hole. I was nightly going down the You Tube hole. One video song leads to another over on the right side of the screen leads to another and 2 hours later I still need to find something to write my blog entry and I am 2 hours behind so late bedtime awaits.

Several times I wrote a great blog and would get to the end and realize I think I have already done this story. I tried to be organized and kept a log of topics from the 1st to the last, but as my mind wanders (I can’t believe we never had a Australian sheepdog as a pet to keep my mind within sight) I would cover a lot of things in some of my blogs and the 5-6 words on my log didn’t begin to cover what I actually talked about particular day.

I have a couple of fraternity brothers that are known across this country as outstanding sports writers. Dan “Country“ Collins wrote for the Winston Salem Journal for many years before retiring in 2017. Mark Whicker is on the west coast and has written for The Orange County Register and Los Angeles Daily News as well as appearing on ESPN “The Sports Reporters” on occasion. They are both excellent and entertaining writers

I enjoy our local boy from Bladenboro Rodd Baxley, I have always loved Sammy Batten in Fayetteville and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Donnie Douglas. And there are so many more. Each and everyone of them have something I wasn’t born with. The ability to concentrate and pound out the story on the old manual typewriters from press row after the game and even taking time to get quotes from both coaches to include in the story. I’m sure Rodd doesn’t know how a manual typewriter works!

I have come to realize that I am best suited to write when I have something inside I want to let out. I am not equipped to write to inform or to put out information. I can’t write to inform, I can only write for myself to release something in my heart or my mind. That’s how I am wired. That’s why I am so glad I took the right path that day in 1971 when I went from Jack Williams’s office down the hall just a couple of doors to the basketball office. There is no telling where my life would have ended up. Trying to fit a square nob in a round peg. That’s what makes a blog so difficult for me.

I will leave you something that I think is worth reading. Call it just a nugget of information that is historic. I mentioned earlier about Mary Garber. Here is her story:

Thanks to Dan Kenney for an amazing ride of self-discovery. You are an unbelievable friend and leader. I am so fortunate to have had this opportunity to work with you.

One comment

  1. […] will not be writing the posts in 2019. He wrote about that yesterday as he told us that writing something creative 3-4 times a week had became a chore versus a joy.  I […]

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