This group of guys. That’s me in the gray hoodie with the glasses.
I was lucky enough to be invited by one of these guys (the guy on my far right, the far left looking at the picture – the bald guy) to watch yesterday’s Flyers hockey game from one of the suites. He had bid on and won the suite at an auction.
We were all part of the East Stroudsburg University Swimming and Diving team from the years 1975-1979, over 40 years ago.
The guy to my left with the dark hat on (far right in the picture) was the best man at my wedding, and the guy behind me was my roommate for three years and was also in my wedding party.
To give you a sense of what type of gathering it was going to be, here is how it started as we went through security into the Wells Fargo Center.
We all had to empty our pockets into a bowl, and then walk through a scanner. As I was emptying my pockets, I felt one of the guys reach into my hoodie pocket and say: “Here, hold this.” I assumed he was just joking, so I went through the scanner and as I started putting my wallet, keys, and phone back into my pockets, the security guard came over to me and asked me if I had emptied all my pockets. I said I had, and he then pointed to my jacket pocket and said “What’s in there?”
I reached in, and lo and behold, I pulled out a pocket knife.
I said I have no idea how that got in there, and I turned around and saw my friend laughing and telling the security guard it was his. The security gave him the choice of putting it back into his car or having it confiscated, so my friend just told the security guard to keep it.
I had visions of calling my wife and telling her I was in a holding cell somewhere, and asking if she could come bail me out.
The other guys showed me no sympathy, and were high-fiving the guy whose knife it was.
That set the tone for what the day was going to be like.
I don’t think we watched more than five minutes of the game. We even stayed in the suite for another 30 minutes or so after the game, and by the time we left, we were likely the last fans in the place.
Most of the time was spent reminiscing, catching up with each other, and most of all, laughing.
None of us could get over the fact that college was more than 40 years ago. Two of the guys are retired, and the rest of us are just 2-3 years away from doing so. Some of us have children who will be turning 40 years old this year, and I think there are 18 grandchildren between the six of us.
I found it coincidental that Coach K’s last home game at Duke was yesterday, and many of his former players came back to share the moment with him.
It made me realize that sports are a great way to build friendships. You spend a lot of time together, and you become a team.
And if you’re lucky enough. you become lifelong friends as well…