By LARRY VAUGHT
Every Sunday morning I get to share time with host Mark Buerger on WLAP Sunday Morning Sports Talk.
Sure, he can be cranky. Sure, he can get irritated with callers. Last week he even hit an all-time high — I think that is the right evaluation — when he got into an argument with himself.
But there is a sweeter, softer side to Buerger that listeners might not know but a his friends do.
He’s also got a great family and I feel lucky to have got to know them.
Friday night his oldest son, Jake, came to Danville to compete in a track meet for Lexington Catholic. He’s a senior and hoped to run a career best 4 minutes, 40 seconds in the 1,600-meter run to earn a spot in the upcoming Class AA regional meet.
Mark obviously came to watch him along with his youngest son, who also ran in the 3,200-meter relay. I came to watch Jake, too.
Of course, I was a bit curious as to how Mark might act. I feared he might be a little wacko at the track meet shouting directions/orders to his son.
Instead, he was the perfect father. He was nervous and jittery, but most parents get that way. He kept lap times for his son — until he hit his camera button after lap three and turned off the timer. But it was okay then.
Jake ran a terrific race and managed to stay on a 4:40 pace for 1,200 meters. However, he couldn’t quite reach the 4:40 goal and finished in 4:48. For a guy who struggles any more to run a 9:10 mile, I was impressed. But I also saw the disappointment on Jake’s face as well as the pain Mark felt for his son.
I wasn’t sure what to say. Then Jake walked up to me. I was looking for some words of inspiration. Instead, he said, “Mr. Vaught, thanks so much for coming.” Then he hugged me.
I mumbled something about “great race” or something as he walked away as I thought what a great kid my friend had. Sure, credit his wife Michelle. But certainly give Mark some credit, too.
Jake didn’t make 4:40, but he left me with a memory I am sure I will not forget about how he was so mature in handling a disappointing moment to him.