Lucky doesn’t really scratch the surface when trying to describe guys like Andrew Hofer and me.
Unless you haven’t read anything I’ve written in, say, the past 6 months, you know why I’m lucky. My wife, Kayla, and I welcomed two beautiful, Gerber-caliber – yeah, I’m biased – baby girls into the world. Anna Elisabeth and Elise Rae changed the game in so many ways when I held them for the first time Aug. 10.
On Monday, Polo's 27-year-old football coach, Hofer, and his wife, Kady, will also double their family size, when their boy and girl arrive.
But we’re not just lucky to be blessed with the new job title of “dad.” We’re lucky because we have the sort of support that will allow us to compete annually for Dad of the Year.
I write this around lunch time on my first day back from paternity leave. Because of the broad shoulders formed by the best sports staff around, I’ll be able to do this often, work from home. And during the 3½ weeks I’ve been on leave, they’ve crushed things. At least as far as I can tell with a glance. I did my very best to disconnect and focus on my new job, and I was able to do that because of the SVM team.
And that’s anything but limited to the sportsters. News side lent sports its Sterling-Rock Falls reporter, Matt Mencarini, for Week 1 of the football season. The photographers – my goodness, the photographers – along with online guru Angel Sierra helped capture great videos to preview each team’s season.
But, with even more aesthetic panache, photo chief Alex T. Paschal turned the photo shoot that began before my leave into an awe-inspiring collection of posters that carried yet another award-winning preseason football section.
Yeah, I said it. There isn’t a jinx strong enough to offset the blood (maybe), sweat (certainly) and tears (most likely) the sports dudes put in on that tab. Specifically, sports editor Dan Woessner needs a medal for his vigilance. Or, at the very least, a nap.
Hofer is lucky, too. Because of the faith he has in his coaching staff, he’ll be able to hand the reins to assistants over the next few weeks, allowing him to be Dad as often as possible.
“I always put my guys where I think they’re going to excel the best, and if I didn’t trust them where they’re at, we wouldn’t have them there," Hofer said. “My theory with assistants has always been to let assistants coach and do what they do and what they’re good at."
He’ll also be taking off a few days from teaching, having spent lots of time laying out lesson plans in advance.
But, ultimately, he only tentatively plans to miss one practice and zero (that’s 0.0) games.
The good fortune continues. His wife’s parents – retired, fortuitously – will be in town for a couple of weeks to help out, and his folks will follow on their heels. Family and friends showered the expectant parents with cribs, double-bassinets and a video monitor, among what Hofer describes as "many things I've never even heard of."
They say good help is hard to find. So why are Hofer and I so lucky? Similarly, we’ve had a relentless train of help since the girls arrived. Sure, some just visited, basked in the girls, drank my beer (Oh, by the way, several visitors came bearing beer. Lucky!) and then hit the road. But most have helped clean, make meals, whatever they could do to offset our utter lack of sleep and diminishing ignorance on the subject of parenting.
I had a few pieces of sage advice to give the "old" ballcoach: If your stomach can handle it, peer over the curtain and take lots of pictures in the operating room; Trust yourself, as the daddy instinct is strong; and the first time the newborns are placed in the same bassinet, brace yourself for the coolest spectacle you've ever seen.
I could go on and on talking about the daily miracles, but that wouldn't be newspaper-friendly. I've been journaling our experience since we made a mad dash to the hospital that fateful Saturday afternoon. I have no idea how long I'll keep writing or what it will become. Maybe I'll go all Drew Magary and write my memoirs on parenting. It would help if I was more famous, obviously.
There was a tinge of regret in Hofer's voice as we discussed the difference between my near month in the baby bunker and his plan to plow ahead with his triple life as coach, teacher and dad.
“Obviously, you want to be able to see the little moments with your kids, and there’s going to be a lot of special moments next week,” Hofer said.
That's why, when he said he'd play it by ear, I couldn't help but wonder if he's going to spend a little more time at home than he plans.
There's just nothing like it. Andrew Hofer is one lucky man. I felt kind of silly wishing him good luck tomorrow night (tonight by now). The young man's already got luck covered.