“From Oaktown to Athens – the Longest Journey”
Entry #1 for 07-15-04
By Jim Beery
“They kept after it!” The History Channel recently featured the rugged, historic Texas Rangers. One basic trait separated the Rangers from all the others - there was no quit in them! When I reflect upon our son’s eight year journey to the Athens Olympics next month, the key to Dan’s success might be similarly termed: “He kept after it!”
He has been tabbed, ‘Big Dan,’ or just ‘Beery’ by his teammates. From our perspective he is just ‘Son.’ As Dad and Mom we have enjoyed the exhilaration of the peaks, and suffered the pain and anxiety of the valleys. Along the pathway, we saw a youngster become a man.
Rudyard Kipling wrote “…to dream and not make dreams your master…” Dan has long followed his dreams, but he is no dreamer. He has visions, but he is more than a visionary. Knowing success and sacrifice are inseparable, he has ‘just kept after it.’
When we began to fully understand the depth of Dan’s commitment, we had to make some conscious and unconscious decisions. The challenges of being parents-of-the-athlete have been long term for us. When Dan played summer league A.A.U. basketball, we journeyed to Las Vegas for the national tournament. During his years as a basketball player for the Bryan College Lions, we made many trips to Southwestern Tennessee. Little did we know his arrival at the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga was the start of his greatest athletic adventures and our journey to the water’s edge.
We could hardly imagine those waters would span two continents, not just stopping with the Tennessee River or the Schuylkill River flowing through Philadelphia. From ocean’s edge to the World Cup competition in Lucerne, Switzerland, to the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta in England; from a silver medal at the World Championships in Seville, Spain, to a gold medal in Milan, Italy, our son’s rowing challenges have made airport junkies out of Merry and me.
This spring we spent hours on the Internet and phones, checking out housing in the Athens area, and available flights. Then, we awaited word from Dan that he would, indeed, be wearing the U.S.A. colors in Athens. Nothing became ‘official’ until July 7, but in early summer his rowing fortunes seemed to shine: “You had better buy your airline tickets!” Dan exclaimed. “I’m doing really well in our heat races, and our boat is looking extremely fast..”
We secured our flights for Merry, daughter Marsha and me, and made housing arrangements in the little town of Marathonas, just a couple of miles from the rowing venue and the famous twenty-six miles from Athens. Our tickets to view the rowing events from the Schinias grandstand arrived by FedEx today. ‘We’ve got to start thinking about packing our luggage!” Merry remarked earlier this week. She will do much of the last minute planning because – it all sounds Greek to me! More to come later, as we “just keep after it.”