I think one of the coolest parts of socializing is when you happen to come across a complete stranger that has an excellent story to tell. I was lucky enough to have something like this happen to me over the summer.
I am on a substitute list for a golf league that plays every Friday night throughout the summer at Notre Dame Golf Course. Not the nice one, Warren, but the nine-hole one. Come on, I’m a reporter, I can’t afford to golf at nice places.
Anyway, I was called to sub for a guy early in the season and I am extremely lucky that I was able to make it that Friday. The team that I was subbing for was playing Nick and Mick. I had never golfed with Nick and Mick before, but I knew who they were. Both older gentlemen, with Nick looking considerably older, but I’m terrible at knowing ages so I just figured they were probably both in their 70s.
Through the first two holes there is some light conversation, then we arrive at the third hole, a par three and we have to wait to tee off. Nick started to talk to me. Now, let me establish that I think I am a very nice person, for the most part. Most of the time I’m not rude, I’m respectable. Blah, blah, blah. Bottom line, I’m not normally a jerk. But, on this day I kind of was.
Nick was engaging in conversation with me and I was in and out of listening. Partially because I was golfing terribly (like usual) and because I was distracted with a girl I was texting. I was basically being the textbook example of everything that people hate about my generation.
So, eventually Nick asks what I do for a living. I told him I cover high school sports. He then asks if I have ever covered Concord. I said I’d been to the school but don’t specialize in covering their events.Then he explains how he is so impressed with the size of the gymnasium at Concord, says that it’s bigger than the entire high school he graduated from.
So, now I’m somewhat engaged in the talk, I asked if he had grandchildren that played there or what his connection was to the school. He says, “I spoke there. You could’ve heard a pin drop when I talked to those kids.”
What? Why was he speaking at Concord?
So, finally giving this man my undivided attention, I ask him what he was doing there. Nick was a World War II veteran and he gave a speech at Concord last Veteran’s Day. He was 94 years old.
Suddenly I don’t care about my golf game, I’m not facing down at my phone.
Now I realize I’m golfing with somebody that had a story, more than a story, a ton of them. I spent the next seven holes picking his brain, and feeling selfish for how I acted the first two.
Turns out Nick enlisted in the Marines in 1940, along with his brother. He served in several spots during his time in the service. While stationed in Iceland, he met Winston Churchill. I’m golfing with a man who served in history’s most famous war and met one of history’s most polarizing people.
I talked to Nick about possibly doing a small story about his experiences and how he still regularly plays golf. He wasn’t really interested, said there wasn’t much to tell. Talk about being humble.
I figure I’d ask him again at the end of the year carry-in but I won’t have that chance. Nick Soley passed away last week. You can find out some of what I told you about him in his obituary. But I got to hear so much of it from the man himself. I gained a lot of humility that day for myself and a ton of respect for that man. I’ll definitely go into impromptu conversations with strangers with a different outlook from now on.
Thanks for sharing the stories, Nick. I’ll look forward to hitting the links with you in another life.
Last Week: 4-1
High School Football Week Two 8/26:
Columbia City (0-1) at Whitko (1-0), 7 p.m.
The Scoop: It’s a rivalry renewed tonight in South Whitley. The Eagles had their wings clipped last week 30-7 by Warsaw, despite a strong start against the Tigers. Whitko, meanwhile, took the long trip south and put a beat down on Cambridge City Lincoln 32-6. The Wildcats have lost 12 straight to their county rivals. Bryan Sprunger was the last head coach to get a win over the Eagles, a 20-17 victory in 1998. A 10-8 defeat last season has to be burned into the back of the minds of every Whitko player and that should be enough fuel to put them over the edge in this one. Jeff Sprunger and the ‘Cats move to 2-0 this week.Nick’s Pick: Whitko 26, Columbia City 14.
East Noble (0-1) at Warsaw (1-0), 7 p.m.
The Scoop: It’s the regular season debut of Tiger Turf! (Is anybody else calling it that? Is it just me? It can’t just be me.) Warsaw welcomes in East Noble with hopes of revenge after the Knights downed the Tigers 34-23 in Kendallville last season, conveniently also played on turf. East Noble was crushed 48-0 by Cathedral last week while the Tigers used a big second half to beat Columbia City. I would say the Knights definitely played the better opponent, but there is no positive way to spin a 48-0 loss. Warsaw has a good defense and seemed to have things working right on offense last week as well. The Tigers should jump to 2-0 this week, though it could be a close one.
Nick’s Pick: Warsaw 20, East Noble 10
Triton (0-1) at LaVille (1-0), 7 p.m.
The Scoop: The Trojans started their season with a tough, tough loss, 6-0 at the hands of Caston. The road only gets tougher this week as Triton travels to take on LaVille, a team that was a 56-0 winner of the Trojans in 2015. It’s early in the season, but the Lancers are knocking on the door of being a top 10 team. Triton will need some offense to hang around tonight, but either way I think the Lancers get the win.
Nick’s Pick: LaVille 35, Triton 18.
Tippecanoe Valley (0-1) at Western (0-1), 7:30 p.m.
The Scoop: It was a rough night for the Vikings last Friday as Culver Academy thumped Valley 47-0. The Vikings get a much easier opponent this week in Western, a team coming off a 22-6 loss to Frankfort. Last season’s contest was close as Western would escape 21-14. I expect another close game this year and really would not be surprised to see either team win this one. The Vikings still look like they have some work to do before finding the win column.
Nick’s Pick: Western 14, Valley 6.
West Noble (1-0) at Wawasee (1-0), 7:30 p.m.
The Scoop: The Warriors surprised a lot of people in week one, including me. I did pick the Warriors to win, but I was not expecting the defensive performance that Wawasee put on. If the defense does anything close to that type of effort this week, I would expect to see another shutout at Warrior Field. West Noble is coming off a win over Central Noble (21-12) but have a freshman at quarterback. I expect Wawasee to be on the Chargers early and often in this one as they look to work out a few more kinks on both sides of the ball before conference play starts next week. But, come on, I can’t predict a shutout.
Nick’s Pick: Wawasee 34, West Noble 7.