In what has been an emotional week for my family, there's no question my father would have wanted me to be at Seacrest Field Friday night to do play-by-play of the Lincoln Southwest/Lincoln North Star football game.
In reality, I wasn't scheduled to do the game at all. My game was supposed to be Thursday night with Lincoln Pius X and Lincoln East.
But, when you lay to rest a man you knew for 41 years on Thursday morning your circumstances force you to make some changes....for the good.
My father, Jerry Motz, passed away on Sunday, August 19, after a seven-year battle with prostate cancer that, at one point, had gone into remission. The outpouring of support this week from friends, extended family, co-workers, past acquaintances and many others has been overwhelming, yet gracious.
My dad lived a great life for 72 years. Hall of fame athlete at Lincoln Northeast High School, played on a state championship basketball team in 1962, scored 57 points his senior year in 1964 (which may never be broken), played fast pitch softball in Lincoln for over 22 years with several teams that won several state championships (most notably with the old King's Food Host, Denny's Champlin and Misty Lounge).
In high school and in college (Nebraska Wesleyan), dad lettered in basketball and baseball, played one season of football at Northeast. In fact, he played in the first ever game held at Seacrest Field on September 7, 1962, which the Rockets won 6-0 over Lincoln Southeast.
For 41 years, he was a claims adjuster and made a pretty good income to provide so many things for my brother (Jimmy) and I, including toys as little kids and sporting equipment.
Dad was a coach in basketball and baseball for a number of years, ranging from kids in kindergarten to the college level in his one season with the NWU baseball team (2002). He was loyal to both alma maters, while supportive to Sterling, Central City and Columbus high schools, where Jimmy served or currently serves and head boys basketball coach.
Believe it or not, dad was a Creighton Bluejays fan going back as far as the early 1960s when former NBA great Paul Silas was grabbing rebounds inside the Omaha Civic Auditorium. I think he kept that hidden for a long time and it really shined when Jimmy signed his letter of intent to play for Dana Altman at CU in 2001.
Even when he lived and worked in Omaha for two years after graduating from NWU in 1968, dad would go watch Creighton practices and games because of a former high school teammate (Jack Ketterer) played for the Jays.
That loyal support for Creighton continued until his final moments on Earth.
Dad's extensive collection of Kenner's "Startling Line-Up" figures has to be the biggest around these parts for sure. Amazing on the quests he took to find guys like Harold Reynolds and countless other baseball, football and basketball stars.
Three weeks ago, dad and my mother, Marcia, celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary. We're fortunate he was able to do so, despite his health condition. After undergoing chemotherapy in recent months, the treatment didn't work and nothing else could be done.
Dad was the toughest guy I knew. He told us he would fight it to the very end and he did. He went peacefully in his sleep and isn't suffering anymore.
Even writing this, I'm getting very emotional. Dad always had an open door at the house for us, my friends, hundreds of people he impacted over the years.
After Friday night's game, like I always do I called my wife, Jami (who did a superb job of helping with arrangements for dad's funeral and life celebration on Thursday), to tell her I'm grabbing something to eat on the way home.
Then I called mom to tell her what happened at the LSW/North Star game. We chatted for about 10 minutes and told her good night. The toughest part was not being able to tell dad about the game I covered like I had done the past 14 years.
Needless to say, healing will take time. Mom, Jimmy and I and our families are finding that out.
Dad's funeral and life celebration may be the catalyst for something new. He requested the service to not be a "pity party." He wanted his favorite rock and roll music, eulogies delivered by Jimmy and I, and very little scripture.
Dad wasn't much of a holy man. Baptized at a young age and raised primarily Lutheran, he never really showed his religious beliefs. That was something personal and felt he didn't need to display it all the time.
At the reception inside the Lancaster Event Center, family, friends and many others who knew him reminisced about his days as a ball player, coach, co-worker and father.
Yes, Jerry Motz lived a great life. Gone but never forgotten. Love you, dad.
WEEK 0 OF FOOTBALL RECAP
A few surprises in the first weekend of the high school football season. The new rankings are out and our new No. 1 in Class A is Omaha Burke, after new No. 4 Creighton Prep upset defending state champ Omaha North 12-7 on Thursday night.
North drops to No. 5, while Lincoln High is now No. 8 after a 49-43, double overtime loss to No. 6 Bellevue West.
In Class B, Waverly remains in the top ten but falls to No. 6 after falling short at No. 5 Seward 35-27 Friday night.
Congratulations to Shane Zimmerman, who won his first game as head coach of Lincoln Northeast, when the Rockets shutout Fremont 22-0 Friday night at Beechner Field.
Big game this week on LincolnPrepSports.com, No. 9 Grand Island in town to play No. 8 Lincoln High. This is a make or break game both teams. The Links, arguably, have one of the toughest schedules in Class A. A win over the Islanders could steer the ship in the right direction.