Open Letter To Joseph Girard III On Behalf Of My Dad
On behalf of my 76 year old father Harry, aka Papa Codes, I personally wanted thank you for choosing Syracuse University as the place you'll play college basketball. Pops in 76 years old today, but you'd think he was a kid the way he glowingly discussed the future of Syracuse hoops now that you committed to his beloved Orange.
My father grew up in Syracuse and has been a fan his whole life. As a result, I grew up a fan of the Orange as well. I'm 45 now and like many fans, I've had my share of ups and downs, heartaches and exhilaration rooting for this team, but every Fall comes renewed optimism as SU fans are bonded by the color orange.
When I was barely a teenager, my dad took me to some 'Cuse games in the Carrier Dome. The seats were nothing special, in fact they were pretty bad. We didn't care that we were literally sitting on the other side of 'the curtain' we were just happy to root on our team led by Sherman Douglas, Rony Seikaly, Derrick Coleman, Stephen Thompson, and company.
Back then, they were playing in the Big East and they banged heads with the likes of Georgetown and St. Johns. The Dome was loud, the games were physical, and the players were so small from our seats in the nosebleeds, we basically watched most the game on the scoreboard to see the action.
To this day, when the 'Cuse are on, no matter what he's doing or where he is, my father is either watching or keeping tabs on the score. Long before cell phones and the ESPN app, as a kid in the car with him at night, he would scan the AM dial trying to get an update from an out of market radio station. Mostly it was static, but occasionally he'd get a tally on his favorite team and either pump his fist with pride, or shake his head with disappointment.
Always the optimist, even after a heartbreaking loss, he would say something like 'Oh well, we have Pitt on Monday...they should get a win there!'
Every fall when we discuss the upcoming season (admittedly he follows the team a little more closely than I do) he'll tell me about the recruits they have coming in and how 'this kid is huge or that kid can really shoot!' My dad is not very tech savvy, doesn't use the internet and most of the information he gets about players are from either the paper or from customers who come into his barber shop. But make no mistake about it, Papa Codes knows his stuff. Every recruit in his eyes has the potential to be the next 'Carmelo Anthony' or 'Gerry McNamara' with the ability to make Syracuse a national champion once again.
I'm writing you this letter because last week, after you announced your verbal commitment to play for the Orange, he called me up to talk about how excited he was that a local standout he's only read about, was going to play at SU. I spent the next 30 minutes on the phone with him filling him in about all of your eye popping statistical accomplishments. This wasn't just barber shop chat, these were facts. Papa Codes waited patiently while I combed the internet finding story after story about you. He wanted detail!
Attempting to contain his excitement, I explained to him that he'd have to wait another year before we get to see you running up and down Boeheim court, bombing 3's from all angles because after all, you still have your senior year at Glens Falls High school. He assured me he'll be patient, but the bar has been set pretty high.
Pops doesn't watch much NBA, but he knows Stef Curry. He kind of insinuated that he expects you to be like him. Nothing like a little more added pressure, right?
A few years ago, my dad and I returned to the Dome for the first time in about 30 years to see Syracuse take on Louisville. I purchased the tickets for him as a Christmas gift and I spent pretty decent money so that we could have a bit of an upgrade compared to when we went years ago.
As we walked down towards our seats, about a half a mile from where we used to sit in the 80's, he got a little emotional. 'Are these good enough for ya Pops?' I asked. He looked around, saw the court 25 feet away and sheepishly said, 'Yeah, these will do.'
After that, I was the emotional one.
Undoubtedly, he's going to want me to take him up to Glens Falls to watch you score 50, and God willing, I'll take him to another game in the Dome to watch you fly up and down that court, bombing 3's against UNC.
So thank you Joseph, for choosing to play ball for the Syracuse University Orange. It gave me yet another chance to get excited about SU hoops, but more importantly, it gave my my dad and me 30 minutes on the phone, shooting the breeze about SU Hoops. Like I did when I was a kid.
I wish you nothing but the best. Have a healthy and fun senior year in high school. And good luck playing for the Orange. After all, Papa Codes - the birthday boy- is expecting pretty big things.
No pressure though!