From 1998 to 2010, I was a PIAA high school football official. Growing up, I had a passion for football. Both my mom and my dad ingrained in me a love for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I couldn't wait until I got to high school and be part of the Bedford Bisons football team. I had the privilege to play on the 1989 team...one of the best in the school's history. I also had the privilege to play on the 1990 team...to this day, statistically the worst team in school history. I say privilege, because this team truly came together as a team...and as a team, a lot of character was built and many life lessons were learned.
|The seniors on the 1990 Bedford High School football team. I am #51, 5th from the left in the first row -- August 1990|
My love and knowledge of the game far surpassed my playing ability. I guess, that is why I made a pretty good official. A weird thing began to happen, though. Around 2006, my interest in mountain biking began to overtake my interest in officiating. Then...by 2010, my interest in spending time my now wife, Robin, and spending time on my bike, completely eroded away any interest I had in football. Now, like I tell my students in school, all my stories do eventually circle back to a point I want to make: all that cold weather gear I had to wear under my officials uniform on late November Friday nights makes great cold weather cycling gear. Perfect for a day like today.
|A blustery and cold day for a bike ride -- December 19, 2015|
Yep, a day like today...cold, blustery, & wind gusts of 25 miles per hour. For the first time this year, I needed to break out the "longs" for a ride. Decked out in my cold weather under armor, heavy gloves, and Gore jacket, I headed westward into the wind. I'm not dumb...I definitely want that wind at my back on the way home. For the short time I was on Canal Road I don't think I was moving faster than 14 mile per hour. Pedaling into the wind was like pedaling in peanut butter. I was more than happy to turn left onto Greenbriar Road. With those gusts at my back, I seemingly flew all the way back towards Cousler Park. In my brain, I began piecing a route back home that would give me as much mileage as possible without freezing my hands, nose, and feet.
|Red Tailed Hawk near Locust Lane -- December 19, 2015|
Turning onto Locust Lane, and headed towards Interstate 83, I cruised past barren farm fields that, in 6 months, will be green with corn stalks. I passed trees without any foliage, which gave me a perfect view of a Red Tailed Hawk perched twenty feet above me. Passing through Emigsville, and headed towards Manchester, I began to think about home. My toes were getting cold...and yes, call my a wuss... but I hate when my toes get cold. Thank goodness, according to the weather guys, by next week the winds will be changing again...ushering in uncommonly warm weather for the week of Christmas.
|Locust Lane -- December 19, 2015|
It's funny how some things in life change as time moves on. Circumstances take you from place to place, friends come in and out of your life, and I surely never would have thought that I would be this completely indifferent to football. What is more amazing though, is that even as the winds of change blow though your life, the most important things remain constant no matter what....things like the lessons learned with friends and teammates 25 years ago, the passion I have for riding my bike (no matter what the weather), and the love I have for my wife and family.
Life is a journey, not a destination.
David A. Raymond -- December 19, 2015