The Fea Girls on the Championship Road

I am always proud of my daughters, but I am especially excited for them this week.

Caroline, a high school senior, is playing on Tuesday night in the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Athletic Association (PIAA) state semifinal game in the hopes of advancing to the state championship game on Saturday.  I wrote a bit about the Mechanicsburg Wildcat’s girls soccer team here.  Last Saturday afternoon they advanced to the semifinals with a thrilling 2-1 double overtime victory over Archbishop Ryan High School in 30 degree weather and howling winds.

Caroline banquet

Caroline at the team banquet last week

GIrls soccer team

Caroline’s team has 11 seniors

Allyson, a junior right side hitter on the Calvin College women’s volleyball team, will compete this weekend in Pittsburgh for the NCAA Division 3 National Championship.  On Saturday night they won an epic 5-set match against Wittenberg University to advance to the round of 8.  I have no idea why the #1 ranked team in the country (Calvin) faced the #3 ranked team in the country (Wittenberg) in a regional final, but that’s what happened.   Either team could have won this game and both deserve to be in the Elite 8 this weekend in Pittsburgh.   It was a sweet win for Calvin.  Last season Wittenberg defeated Calvin on their home court in the national semifinals.

Sarah and Ally

Ally is #19

Ally and Dad

Taking Care of Business

OnTheRoad

7:45am:  Voted at my local polling place

12:00pm:  At Princeton University for an event on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump co-sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Center for the Study of Religion.

2:15pm:  On Canadian television  (CBC News Network) to talk evangelicals and the election.

7:00pm: In Scranton, Pennsylvania area to watch the Mechanicsburg Area High School girls soccer team compete in the first round of the state tournament vs. Dallas High School.

9:00-12:00pm:  On call with Canadian Broadcast Corporation radio coverage of the 2018 midterms.

Long day.

Playoff Season in the Fea Household!

uNDEFEATED

Some of you have been following the exploits of the Mechanicsburg Girls Soccer team.  They are currently 21-0 and ranked 16th in the nation according to USA Today.  Tonight Caroline and her team the play Manheim Central High School (Lancaster area) for the District 3 Championship at Hershey Park Stadium.  If you are interested, the game starts at 5:3pm.

Meanwhile, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Calvin College (26-1) will be trying to secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Division 3 volleyball tournament.  Allyson is a starting right-side hitter on a team that has been ranked #1 in the nation for most of the season.  Calvin will secure an automatic bid by winning the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament this weekend.  And even if they lose, it is likely that they will receive an at-large bid.  (In 2016, they rode an at-large bid to the National Championship).

So what does this mean for the proud parents.? Joy just left for Grand Rapids.  She will be spending the weekend watching volleyball.  I am staying here in south central Pennsylvania and will be watching soccer in Hershey tonight.

We never expected that our November would be so busy or that we would have to split-up to watch our kids compete for championships.  (I played sports through college, but never came close to winning anything! 🙂 )

Stay tuned!

When Joel Osteen Shows-Up (sort of) at Your Daughter’s Soccer Game…

Last night the Mechanicsburg Area High School girls soccer team advanced to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association District 3 championship game with a thrilling 2-1 double overtime win over Berks Catholic High School.  The game was held at Hershey Park Stadium in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  As some of you know, my daughter plays on the team.

When I arrived at the stadium last night and headed over to the ticket booth I was greeted with this sign:

Osteen at Hershey

Is the Mechanicsburg victory last night a sign that the members of the team are “living their best life now?”

Phil Sinitiere, I need your help!

If You Get a Chance to Live in a Small Town, Take It

Caroline last game

Seconds before the lights went out–literally and figuratively–at the Northside “Cage”

I was recently at a conference where I overheard a couple of history graduate students from an Ivy League university complaining about the job market.  This, of course, is pretty commonplace among history graduate students.  The market for tenure-track jobs in the field of history is terrible.

Yet these graduate students were not complaining about the small number of jobs available.  There was a sense of confidence in their speech as they talked about their prestigious advisers and the quality of the graduate programs where they earned their Ph.Ds.  They did not seem overly worried about landing a job.  Rather, their complaints focused more on the fact that so many jobs were located in rural communities in so-called “Red States” where they did not want to live.  Their conversation was infused with the kind of cosmopolitan snobbishness that I often hear in academic circles.  As I listened to them talk, I thought that maybe all those Trump voters and Fox News watchers are correct about the “coastal elites.”

As many readers of The Way of Improvement Leads Home know, I have invested nearly my entire career at a small church-related college in south central Pennsylvania.  I chose to work here.  In 2002, I had job offers from a research university, several regional state universities, and a couple of really good liberal arts colleges.  (The job market was obviously much better in 2002!).  I chose Messiah College because I believed in its mission. I still do.  Messiah is not a utopia, but it is certainly a place where I have been able to grow as a scholar and teacher with a supportive administration.  It is also an institution that has been supportive of my wife’s vocation.  We generally like it here.

Messiah is located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.  Mechanicsburg is not a very cosmopolitan place.  Many of my neighbors have lived in the town for multiple generations.  Some young people get out of town after graduation and never come back, but many never leave.  We have all the usual problems associated with small towns.  Race-relations could be better.  Drug deals go down in the convenience store parking lots.  The wealthy members of our town cloister in their gated communities.  But this is where we decided to raise our family.

When we arrived in Mechanicsburg our daughters–Allyson and Caroline– were ages four and one.  They attended kindergarten through high school in Mechanicsburg Area School District.  We chose to live in the Mechanicsburg School District as opposed to the larger regional Cumberland Valley School District (with more opportunities) because we wanted a smaller, more intimate community for our kids.  Both of them have thrived in this district and we have never regretted our choice.

Some folks in town who know me may think it is odd that I am writing about the sense of community I feel in Mechanicsburg.  As an introvert, I tend to keep to myself.  I would rather watch my kids play sports seated alone than join a crowd of cheering fans.  I am not very good at small talk.  I coached my girls in basketball when they were in elementary school, but I got disgusted with the politics, the ambitious parents, and the way many of those parents treated the selfless staff of our town’s recreation department, so I stopped.  I have not participated as much in the local life of my community largely because of the time I spend investing in the life of Messiah College.  But I have tried to serve when asked.  I could do better.

I thought about my relationship with this community again as I sat in the cold last night and watched the Mechanicsburg Girls Soccer team play their final home game of the season.  It was the second round of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association’s District 3 playoffs.  The girls won 4-0 over a team from Berks County and advanced to the District semifinals on Monday night at Hershey Park Stadium.  They are now 20-0 and ranked 21st in the nation.  A great story is developing here in small-town Mechanicsburg.  My daughter Caroline plays a minimum number of minutes each game, but she has been an intricate part of a team that is making local history.  She has been playing soccer with many of the seniors on this team since she was eight-years-old.  Some of these girls are her best friends.  Mechanicsburg is Caroline’s community.  This place has shaped her life in so many good ways.

Caroline had mixed emotions last night.  Her team will play again next week and, if things go well, will try to make a run in the state tournament.  Yet the sadness of playing her last game on her home field with her friends was palpable as she walked across the field to meet us.  Her tears were a mixture of joy for the blessing of an undefeated season (so far) and sadness that it was all nearing an end.  I fought them back as well.

Small towns are good things.  If you get a chance to live in one, take it.