The Boneyard

Augustine J. Fredrich (Jay) was Associate Dean of the School of Science and Engineering Technology at the University of Southern Indiana. He is a civil engineer who worked 19 years for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before coming to Evansville to teach. In 1972-73 he served as a Congressional Fellow on the staff of U.S. Senator John L. McClellan. He is the author of "Sons of Martha" an anthology of readings on civil engineers and civil engineer projects. In 1993 he received the Julian Hinds Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers in recognition of his career achievements in the field of water resources engineering.
Someone Else's Dad    -

by Augustine J. Fredrich

A few years ago, when I retired after eleven years of serving as a volunteer assistant soccer coach at Memorial High School, I was asked to speak at the dinner for parents and players at the end of the season.
This is the text of my remarks.

When I was eight years old, a Cub Scout pack was organized in my school. All of the boys who were interested in joining the Cub Scouts were invited to an organizational meeting, but we were told that each boy who wanted to attend would have to be accompanied by a parent. I still remember my dad telling my mom that he didn't feel like going to the meeting with me. But he went. I also remember him telling my mom, when we returned home after the meeting, that he knew he shouldn't have gone. When she asked why, he told her that he had ended up having to take the job of being the Cubmaster. When mom asked why he agreed to take the job, he said that he took it because it was a job someone had to do if we were going to have a Cub Scout pack at our school. What he didn't say, but what I now understand, was that someone was going to have to do that job in order for me to have a chance to belong to the Cub Scouts.

Before he had completed a year as Cubmaster, my dad drowned trying to save the life of a friend's child's after a boating accident. But the Cub Scout pack continued, because the Cubmaster position was filled by someone else's dad. And when it came time for me to become a Boy Scout, I was able to join and experience the fun of scouting because someone else's dad had agreed to be the Scoutmaster. I still remember the good times I had on weekend camping trips -- trips that were only possible for me because I was allowed to go with someone else's dad.

When I became old enough to enjoy participating in sports, I was fortunate to be able to play on my grade school football team and run on our school's track team; teams that were only possible because someone else's dad volunteered to coach. Even my transportation to games and track meets had to be provided by someone else's dad.

The high school I wanted to attend was a boarding school out of town. My attendance was made possible by a scholarship which came from money contributed by someone else's dad. And the summer jobs I needed to earn money for expenses other than tuition and room and board were arranged through the efforts of someone else's dad.

So, when my children reached the age where they wanted to be involved in activities that required a job to be done, I was happy to have the chance to do the things my dad never had the chance to do for me. It took a while, however, for me to realize that helping to make these activities possible for my children was helping to make them possible for others as well. Once I realized that, I saw the opportunity to do for others what had been done in the past for me by continuing to be someone else's dad.

If what I have done has provided one of you the opportunity or the encouragement to do something you might not otherwise have been able to do, the only thanks I want or expect is to have you remember in the years to come how important it is that there always be men who are willing to be someone else's dad.

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