Barbie: role model for girls, fun to play with, brought joy to many.
I’m not talking about the Mattel toy, or the Hollywood blockbuster. I’m talking about Barb O’Brien. A couple of years ago, I didn’t even know who she was. But thanks to the esprit de corps that pickleball engenders among “the regulars” at any particular set of courts, I got to know Barb (a.k.a. “Barbie”). And to know Barb was to love her. How could you not admire someone who was battling cancer but still kicking butt on the courts… and doing it all with a positivity that was absolutely infectious.
Age and ailments slowed her down, but they never kept her away from the courts for too long until recently. To say Barb “lost” her battle to cancer would be wrong – she left the courts (and this world) with her head held high and a smile on her face.
I knew Barb was a tennis star in her youth, but it wasn’t until I read her obit that I realized what a trailblazer she was:
Barb was a fierce competitor, earning a spot on the Withrow High School Boys Varsity Tennis team in 1972, prior to Title IX and dedicated womens teams. Barb went on to attend the University of Cincinnati where she played tennis, achieving a ranking of #2 in the state of Ohio.
Barb was a greeter, a welcomer, an ambassador, and a connector. She was a grinder, a laugher, and a lover of the game. She made an indelible impact on me and many others. She not only helped create other lovers of the game, but other ambassadors, connectors, and welcomers. They are all Barb’s legacy, and they are all longing for the old days.
Mitch Dunn in his Medium post linked above
Barb’s friend Sue posted the news of Barb’s passing on the group chat for the Clear Creek pickleball crew. Dozens of people posted notes like these:
Barb’s daughter Marci joined the chat via Barb’s account:
Barbie Summer is over. But Barb’s influence will go on for years.
I’ve signed up to ride my bike 24 miles (in a row… crazy, I know) in the Ride Cincinnati event on September 17th to raise funds for the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center and the Barrett Cancer Center. If you could see it in your heart (and find it in your wallet) to support me, I’d greatly appreciate your tax-deductible donation. 100% of your contribution will go directly to life-saving cancer research and care in the Greater Cincinnati area.
Me on a “training ride”:
Me during the actual Ride Cincinnati event:
The University of Cincinnati Cancer Center is trying to achieve National Cancer Hospital (NCH) designation, which would make them eligible for more funding, and enable them to provide more treatment options to patients.
Cancer is a cruel disease. Just a few months ago, my mother-in-law succumbed to renal cancer. She went from active, independent grandma to bedridden, pain-ravaged patient in less than a year. I hope and pray for a day when cases like hers have a better outcome. With my pedaling and your support, we can help kick cancer’s butt.
I’m not going to set any land speed records on my ride, but I’m really close to my stretch goal of $1,000. With your help, I can get there. Thanks!
If you need a healthy dose of perspective on March Madness, I suggest you come over to my house to watch the games.
I’m a Xavier University alum, and have been a season ticket holder for decades. But in the midst of their furious comeback on Friday, I had to turn the TV off. Because the parish priest came over to administer anointing of the sick to my mother-in-law, who is battling terminal cancer. She’s been in a hospital bed in our living room for the past month. Forget “March Madness” – this is March Sadness.
I grew up in Arkansas and love the Razorbacks. Yesterday they too rallied in their tourney game, and managed to knock off #1 seeded Kansas.
But there’s nothing quite like administering liquid morphine during a commercial break to give you a better understanding of what really matters. “Survive and advance…”
Nothing I’ve seen on the TV screen can match the courage, the bravery, the tenacity, the heart, the strength that I’ve seen from my mother-in-law. Her outcome is no longer in doubt, but she’s already won.
Sports may be life, but it’s not life and death. The pain of losing pales in comparison to the pain of loss.
The Alabama Crimson Tide is the #1 overall seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. (I can’t call it March Madn3ss or I’d owe someone money.)
Alabama is led by their freshman phenom Brandon Miller. The same Brandon Miller who, on January 15th, delivered a gun to his then-teammate Darius Miles. Miles then gave the weapon to his friend Michael Lynn Davis, who then proceeded to get into a gun battle over a petty argument… and 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris, the mother of a 5-year-old son named Kaine, was shot and killed.
Actually Brandon Miller’s car was used to deliver the murder weapon. Allegedly, Brandon didn’t know the gun was in his car. Allegedly it was hidden in the back seat under some clothing. But his (now former) teammate texted him and said “I need my joint.” (For those who aren’t up to date on the latest slanguage, “joint” = “gun.”) And Brandon returned to where he had dropped off his teammate hours earlier.
Yes it’s completely possible that Brandon Miller didn’t know there was a gun in his vehicle — seems unlikely but sure let’s go with that– and yes it’s completely possible that Brandon Miller was already on his way to pick up his teammate when the text came through. That’s what his attorneys claim.
But the text said “I need my joint” not “Please swing by, I need the clothes that are in your back seat.” I’m no Perry Mason, but to me, the fact that Brandon’s teammate texted him that he needed his gun implies that Brandon knew the gun was in the vehicle.
Sidebar: where are we as a society today when young men who are going out for a night on the town:
actually own a gun and
decide that they need to bring it along when they’re going to a bar?
What we do know is that the University of Alabama administration knew of Brandon Miller’s involvement right from the get-go. It’s pretty hard to NOT know when Miller’s vehicle windshield had a couple bullet holes in it. Oh and there was another player from the team who was there as well… all this info didn’t come out until a February 21st hearing.
According to authorities, Brandon Miller is not a suspect… because if he didn’t know that he was supplying a gun … or even if he did know but he didn’t know that it would be used for something illegal (note: murder is illegal)… he’s off the hook.
Oh and by the way, did we mention that at Alabama’s next home game after Miller’s involvement was made public, one of his teammates gave him a mock “weapons pat down” during pregame introductions. Stay classy, ‘Bama!
Nate Oats is the Alabama head coach. His response has been tone deaf. At a press conference, he said Brandon was in the “wrong spot at the wrong time.” As many scribes have pointed out, actually, Jamea Harris was the one who was in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Oats also claimed that he was unaware of the pregame pat-down ritual… and that coaches can’t keep track of their players 24/7. Technically true, but I guarantee you most coaches know if a player misses a single mandatory study hall, and that players have been suspended for such minor infractions.
The University of Alabama administration’s response has been deafening silence. Yes, they kicked Darius Miles off the team. But Brandon Miller hasn’t missed a single practice or a single game. After all, he’s the star player on the #1 team in America — the team favored to win the NCAA tournament. When “win at all costs” meets “players’ actions cost a young woman her life” the entire administration has cast their vote for the former.
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide… and the Crimson Tide has blood on their hands.
Note: I drafted this post yesterday (I have the legal pad scribbles to prove it), and today when I went looking for facts to include in it, I found a Will Leitch column on New York magazine’s Intelligencer site that sums up my feelings much more eloquently and intelligently. The full column is here, and some choice excerpts are below.
My friend and co-worker Brian has an interesting side hustle. He prowls the sidelines of NFL games as “Who Dey” – the mascot for the Cincinnati Bengals.
He’s been “dressing up as a fake tiger” (his words, not mine) for more than 20 years — he’s getting a bit long in the fang for the mascot game. This feat is quite impressive when you consider how much of a physical workout it is. (Brian said on warmer game days, he’ll sweat off 10 pounds or more.)
And it’s even more impressive when you consider the fact that the Bengals were… let me put this politely… not good for much of his tenure. It can’t be much fun trying to fire up a sparse crowd — many of whom were probably rooting for the opposing team — during a 2-14 season.
I’m glad the Tiger tables have turned. If things go the Bengals way this Sunday, Brian will be going to the Super Bowl for the 2nd year in a row. Not bad for a side hustle. Or should I say “fur” a side hustle?
Xavier University’s website has a great profile of Brian here.
While he was in college, he was leading a mascot double life, as the “Blue Blob” mascot at Xavier sporting events, as well as doing his Who Dey thing.
And because Brian’s a natural ham, I cast him in a bunch of fun videos that I’ve scripted for our company over the years. One of my favorites was a buddy cop spoof — Brian and I were “Ham” and “Cheese” respectively, for obvious reasons.
In that video, we poked fun at some of the more arcane rules in the employee handbook, like “no t-shirts with inappropriate slogans” for our in-house fitness center. Here’s a quick clip from that:
I’m glad Brian’s still having fun hamming it up as Who Dey. Here’s hoping we see him at Super Bowl LVII in a few weeks!
The Cincinnati Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the NFL playoffs on Sunday night. The winning touchdown was an amazing (and amazingly rare) play: a 98-yard fumble recovery by a defensive lineman. Local boy Sam Hubbard made the heads-up score:
Look at Sam when he starts his rumble: he’s got three teammates nearby, with two opponents trailing them.
The teammates just run alongside Sam Hubbard. As if they think the Bengals will get bonus points if four guys reach the end zone. (Spoiler: they won’t.) This happens all the time on turnovers… teammates run alongside the dude with the ball.
Instead of forming a convoy, they should turn around and block one of the pursuing opponents:
At midfield, one teammate is even clapping – I think he wants Sam to lateral the ball to him… Save your clapping, pal, and put your pads on a Raven.
Ravens tight end Mark Andrews busted his butt trying to catch up to Hubbard. Sam’s teammates finally try to block him, but they’re lucky they didn’t get called for a block in the back – which would’ve negated the score.
I see this all the time in games. And a lot of times, an opponent actually catches up to, and tackles, the runner, while the runner’s teammates do nothing to impede the tackler’s progress.
Running alongside the guy with the ball does no good…. you can celebrate with your teammate all you want AFTER you block the only guys with a chance of tackling him.
Thus sayeth Grandpa, the team player. Now get off my lawn!