As exciting as playoffs are, there are more important things in life
I am sitting here on a Sunday evening wrapped up in emotions I didn’t see coming when I came to the office earlier today.
For much of this weekend, I’ve been looking forward to Monday night’s Class 2A state playoff football game between New Hampton and South Tama.
I began my career in newspapers as a sports writer, and I can honestly say there’s nothing quite like covering the playoffs in any sport.
The tension and excitement in the air is dang near palatable so after slogging through a regular season — no matter how successful it’s been — the playoffs are not so much work for reporters as they are fun.
I loved covering playoff games in 1986, when I began this odyssey. And I’ve loved them ever since.
As much as I hated to see New Hampton lose in the Class 3A volleyball semifinals last Thursday night, I still had a blast.
The emotion on that volleyball floor was a little sharper, a little more intense and a little more visible than even a couple of weeks ago when the Chickasaws took 4A-ranked Charles City to a fifth set.
It was the playoffs, after all.
But Monday night’s game was even a little bit more special for me because for the first time in four years, my two boys — Joshua and Noah — were playing on the same team.
As I write this on Sunday, a part of me still can’t wait for kickoff, which is now about 24 hours away.
I’ve tried to impress on my boys never to take anything for granted when it comes to sports because you never know what will happen in the future.
Sports fans have all heard about the pro athlete who played in a Super Bowl or a World Series and not enjoyed the experience because they thought it would happen over and over again.
So I’ve tried to keep it under wraps a bit, but yeah, as I write this, I can’t wait for Monday night and I’m trying to clear as much work from my desk as I can so I can not only work on a huge Veterans Days special section but also so I can, in between doing my job for the Tribune, be a proud father to my boys.
And then I opened an email from Conway-Markham Funeral Home and I realized a football game is just a football game, playoffs or not.
Almost as soon as David J. Rochford’s obituary opened on my computer, the age — 35 — hit me like a proverbial ton of bricks.
It’s just not fair. And as I read the entire obituary that “no-fair feeling” only expanded exponentially.
He and his wife Marcy recently celebrated their fifth anniversary and they are the parents of, as the obituary reads, “three beautiful daughters” — Rylie, Addie and Averie.
I didn’t know David Rochford and I don’t think I’ve met Marcy Rochford; if I have, I don’t remember the meeting.
Still, my heart aches for her and her three girls.
One sentence in particular from that obituary keeps coming back to me.
“His family was his pride and joy and he loved being a father and husband.”
This morning, I snapped at my wife because she couldn’t find some keys. For those who know me well or even not so well, the first thought has to be, “Really Fenske?”
I lose my keys all the time, and I’m expecting my wife, who was working her third straight 12-hour day, to know exactly where everything is?
So the first thing I shall do when she walks into the door tonight sometime around 9 is give her the most heartfelt apology I can muster.
And the second thing I will do is figuratively wrap my arms around Marcy, Rylie, Addie and Averie Rochford.
I hope we all — even those who didn’t know David Rochford — can do that.
Send them prayers. If you’re not religious, send them vibes. No wife and no child should have to go through what the Rochfords are going through today and will, unfortunately, go through for a very long time.
By the time most of you read this, that football game will be over. New Hampton’s season will either be done or continued on Friday.
But let’s remember that it’s just a sporting event. There are so many more things way more important.