THP #41: Fatherhood

December 7, 2022 – Auburndale, Massachusetts
Lasell vs Trinity
Women’s Basketball

This is my last stop for a while. I got a daughter coming any day now. As I write this my wife is in her 39th week of pregnancy. I am over the moon about having a child.

I waffled for a few years. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want a kid. I didn’t know how I was feeling. My emotions ran the gamut. Honestly, after a crazy first season of this project I wanted one more year of full-on chaotic running around and I think I would have been good to go. Get that bit of dirtbagging out of the system.

COVID burned that season and last year we got a dog and were settling into our new house. This year I went buckwild this first month of the season and loved it. I got to mentally scratch that itch that I couldn’t reach, and I feel much better about everything. Maybe it’s the Lexapro helping, who knows.

Raising a puppy certainly helped too. I called raising Bella preseason for raising a kid. I’ve gone through weeks of no sleep, crying on the toilet when I have a moment of solitude, full blasts of anxiety at the thought of getting out of bed to pee at night lest I rustle the dog and ruin our sleep.

I’ve had those realizations that the dog isn’t gonna die if it eats a leaf and the eureka moment that she’s ok to be on her own after I finally got six straight hours of sleep at night

Having a kid means those timelines will be way longer, and I’ll experience those feelings again. I survived raising Bella. My life adjusted and I went about living with this awesome new furry buddy in my life.

With my daughter, my life will adjust and I’ll go about living with this awesome daughter in my life.

I’ve openly bristled at older relatives making a show saying things like “oh, your life’s never your own anymore” or “You know you can’t run around like you do now for sports.” The first line ticks me off because it frames kids exclusively, in my view, as a negative. My life isn’t changing, it’s being added to. I’m excited to add to it.

And as for the second line: yeah, I know. I’m not gonna do a triple shot in Northern Maine over a weekend. Doesn’t mean I can’t take a small handful of Saturdays and hit some local spots. There’s 30-35 schools within a 90-minute drive of the house, I’ll be fine in that regard.

It goes back, again, to the negative framing. Was I wanted? Was anyone? My daughter, especially when she’s a newborn and a potato, will be a huge change, and each phase of her life will be an adjustment for everyone. I’m excited to make those adjustments and hopefully raise a well-rounded, self-assured woman alongside my wife.

Quick aside, and my wife hates what I said but I think it’s hilarious and want it saved for posterity. A few years ago she was showing me pictures of a friend’s baby all adorable and swaddled in their crib. In my head, I said “look at the cute little burrito.” However, what came out was “oh wow, a flesh taco.” Still makes me chuckle.

I wasn’t a “boy or bust” guy when my wife got pregnant. The day she tested positive, after the hugs and smiles, I said, in the most matter-of-fact way, “Great, we’re having a daughter.” Just knew. How? No clue, but I did.

And now little baby Claire is on the way. I can’t wait to meet her. It’s gonna be college hoops, cartoons, and dinosaurs for her. And reading Calvin and Hobbes to her. And watching her and Bella pal around.

This will be an exciting journey, and I’m looking forward to starting it.

And speaking of my favorite fuzzball, here’s a moment with Bella.

The Good Eats

Auburndale is one of the 13 villages of Newton, a city of just under 90,000 that borders Boston to the west. The village is on the western edge of the city and borders Waltham.

Outside of Lasell, Auburndale is almost exclusively residential with many houses on the National Register of Historic Places.

But located a mile from Lasell, up Lexington Street, is Depasquale’s at Night Cap Corner.

A small eatery serving pizza and sandwiches, it was bright and welcoming inside.

I kept it straight up and simple. I got a chicken salad wrap with fries, drink, and in-house chocolate chip cookie. I had the cookie while waiting for the sandwich and it was a thick chonk.

Look at the size of those chocolate chunks.

It was a good cookie. A bit too thick for what I’m really looking for, but the chocolate was quality, and the bake was good. I’m in the area with some regularity and I could see myself heading over to grab a cookie as a snack for the ride home again.

The sandwich was exactly what I wanted it to be.

It was a quintessential chicken salad sandwich. No cranberries. No walnuts. My wife loves that, but I just want well-seasoned chicken with mayo and celery, maybe onion. That’s exactly what I got.

And look at how full of chicken the wrap was. So so good. Add in the crunchy water AKA iceberg lettuce, and each bite had a satisfying crunch. Chicken salad, while not a deli meat in construction certainly is in spirit, and is always an underrated gem when I can find good varieties.

The fries? Excellent. I’ve spent plenty of blog space putting over the necessity of quality fries, and this place made a fry that was the perfect compliment for the sandwich.

Lasell University

A small college with just 1,650 undergrads, Lasell opened in 1851 as the Auburndale Female Seminary. It was founded by Edward Lasell, a chemistry professor at Williams College in Western Massachusetts that wanted to invest more personally in women’s education.

His untimely passing soon after the seminary opened brought on a name change a year later to the Lasell Female Seminary.

It would change names multiple times until it began offering four-year degrees and took the name Lasell College in 1989. Male students followed in 1997, and the college became a university in 2019.

The campus is a mix of historic houses used as dorms and admin buildings along with more modern buildings as well.

Dining hall

Academically, Lasell is known for its fashion program which includes three majors: Fashion Communication & Promotion, Fashion Design & Production, and Fashion Retail & Merchandising.

It’s one of the few schools with fashion programs where underclass students can showcase their work at the annual undergrad fashion show.

The Game

The home of Lasell basketball is known simply as the Athletic Center.

You enter from above and descend down to courtside to sit in the bleachers. There is a short running track above the court where you can post up and watch the game as well.

It’s the only college venue I’ve been in that has featured temporary aluminum bleachers to help boost seating. In fact, the majority of the seats here are temporary.

A small wall of plaques commemorates past athletic success for all Lasell sports.

A neat feature was the speaker on the bench side of the room. It was encased in a mesh that was Lasell branded. Never seen that before.

Also up around the track are banners of past successes for basketball and volleyball. Volleyball has an august, regal banner.

Basketball, men and women, has the ignominy of being the only program I’ve ever seen to have their accomplishments immortalized in comic sans.

Woof.

A rarity for D3, the mascot, was there for the game. Now, Lasell is known as the Lasers. Lasell is the only NCAA school known as the Lasers. Irvine Valley College goes by the same nickname but it’s a non-NCAA community college in California.

The mascot, Boomer, graced us with his presence. What exactly does a Laser mascot look like? First, here’s where the Laser name comes from, direct from the Lasell website.

“From our earliest beginnings in the nineteenth century when the lamp of knowledge was emblazoned on our University seal, to the one hundred and fifty years of Torchlight Parades, light has been a part of Lasell’s rich history. It is in this tradition of light, and the pursuit of knowledge and excellence, that our athletes bear the name LASERS. Lasers are by definition a source of intense energy. Therefore, like a laser, our athletes are fast, focused and intense on the fields and courts of athletic endeavor.”

You can read the full explanation here. And now…..here he is.

Thanks for the pose Boomer. Onto the game.

The Lasers were hosting the Trinity Bantams, last year’s NESCAC regular season champions. However, the two-win Lasers were up to the challenge early and gave as good as they got it.

Trinity led by as many as seven in the first, but the Lasers found answers and were led by Juju Nealy. The sophomore led Lasell with eight points in the opening period.

And the Lasers ended it with a flourish and went into the break tied.

The partisan crowd was feeling it after 10 minutes. And they kept feeling it as Lasell maintained the pressure and pushed into the lead. This jumper from Brenna Graber made it 28-27 Lasers.

But the Bantams found their groove as the second quarter continued on and quickly retook the lead.

The Bantams went got some much-needed breathing room before intermission thanks to this three from Tori Varsamis. She finished with 11 points, one of four bantams to score at least that many points.

Trinity went into halftime up 37-32. And the Bantams blew the game to smithereens in the third. A precise, diverse attack overwhelmed the Lasers.

These two buckets by Hannah Marzo helped key a 16-4 quarter for Trinity. Marzo was the only Bantam to score more than two points in the period as they moved the ball effortlessly and turned the Lasers over five times.

Defensively they shut down Lasell and Nealy. Nealy finished with a game-high 14 points but only had four in the second half.

Varsamis put a bow on the proceedings with this three.

Trinity 68, Lasell 51. Final
Player of the Game – Tori Varsamis (Trinity) – 11 points, 3-6 from 3, 2 rebounds, assist, steal, 9 minutes of action.
Time of Game – 1:35:27

And that’s a soft wrap on season 4. Nine stops, all three divisions, and three states. I’ve really grown an affinity for Connecticut this year. There’s a lot to go in the Nutmeg State, and there’s a ton of amazing food. It’s a win/win every time I hop on Route 84 or 395 to go south.

With 41 stops in the can I am now 36% of the way done with whatever this is supposed to be. And I’ll have one or two more before the season once tournament time comes around.

But now, it’s off to fatherhood and laying the first bricks of raising my daughter. She’s not here yet but she’ll be here any day, any hour as of the time of publishing this. I’ve led a charmed life in my first 31 years, and having a kid will be the perfect bow on this chapter of it.

We all live multiple lives. For many around me, I’m simply going to be Claire’s dad, and I’m ok with that. For me, I get to see everything fresh again. I get to experience so many firsts again that I haven’t done in decades. What a wonderful trip it will be.

And, in honor of those temp bleachers at the Athletic Center, here’s one for the road:

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