We all have different wishes. Some of us want to retire on a beach. Some want to go to Australia, see the Grand Canyon, or go on a Caribbean cruise.
Me, I want to go to South Dakota. Never been there. Fascinated by what I might discover. It’s the obscurity of it that I find alluring and mysterious, the ultimate fly-over-zone place that almost no one talks about or even cares about except people who live there.
I want to see it with my own eyes. I want to wander into some open field and say to myself “I did it. I got to South Dakota.”
It’s exactly the out-of-the-wayness of this state that beckons me to come and find out how people there talk and think. I want to know what’s on their minds, what concerns them, how they see the world, what they think of Bethesda, Maryland where I grew up – if they’ve ever heard of it.
I’m thinking about South Dakota today because this is where new Alabama football coach Kalen DeBoer was born. Much of America knew little if anything about him until yesterday and one big reason is he grew up in off-the-main-drag South Dakota and spent many of his formative years there.
Seems like my kind of guy on the surface of it. Didn’t insist New York and West Coast elites paid attention to him. Probably couldn’t care less about downtown Manhattan or Hollywood.
What he did focus on was football — not fame or notoriety. Turned out he wasn’t just any football guy either. As a wide receiver at the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota, he caught a school record 234 passes and hit .520 on the baseball team. Not shabby. A stud to be truthful.
As a coach of his alma mater’s team from 2005-2009, he piled up a record of 67 and 3. Read that one more time: 67 wins and three losses. Nick Saban-type numbers.
A winner. All the way through his life.
Word is he’s also upper-level smart.
I already like this guy a lot and I hardly know him. An American from the heartland, out there in Somewhere Remote and Far From the Main Drag America, working at getting better, excelling with almost no one noticing, not asking to be the center of attention, and then rising to coach the University of Washington to a 14-1 and 11-2 seasons.
A powerhouse of a man this is who has now taken on the biggest challenge anyone can in sports, Nick Saban. Something tells me none of this intimidates this guy DeBoer. Something tells me he’s not all caught up in the hysteria and expectations that are now loading on his shoulders.
Guys like this, guys from South Dakota, they’re their own kind, I sense. Kind of makes you think of where Saban came from, a coal mining town in West Virginia. There he learned about hard work, discipline, and not seeking awards.
Just work. Every day.
Whether it’s West Virginia or South Dakota or Tuscaloosa, wake up and put forth your best effort.
Kalen DeBoer’s story in the national spotlight begins now. Something tells me he’s ready, unfazed, and destined for success. On his own terms. Not ours.
It’s all he’s ever known.
Roll South Dakota.
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:
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