Expectations creep in at HOF inductions


I spent a few days in the Ozarks this past week trying to shake off the winter blahs. It was cold enough for the first three days that the chill in my bones stayed in place. It took morning coffee, some other hot drinks, and a warm bed to work it out.
I actually played golf in pants for the first time ever. I looked the part, but certainly didn’t play the part.
Upon my return home Friday at about 7 I just wanted to grab a bite and hit the sack. I took ibuprofen two times this week because the bracing cold added to the stiffness in my joints.
After a quick stop in West Burlington to visit family, I shot home and climbed into bed, not to awaken until the daylight creeped in between the wooden slats of my 50-year-old wooden blinds. I woke tired and sore again and a hot shower met with shorts and sweatshirt.
I checked my schedule for the day and saw that the Central Lee Hall of Fame inductions for 2022 and 2023 were on the docket at 10 a.m.
Superintendent Dr. Andy Crozier is always a good interview and I was looking forward to sitting in on a community event somewhere and writing about it. After a few days of not feeding the beast, you miss it.
But I got a little more than I bargained for heading out to Donnellson. As I wandered around the room trying not to be disruptive while finding the best angle for some photography, I found myself listening to the presenters for the Hall of Fame inductees.
I started thinking about the accomplishments of these people. Jerry Junkins graduated from Central Lee and went on to become CEO of Texas Instruments. I didn’t catch all the graduation years, but got swept away in the closeness of greatness.
There were three medical doctors in the 18 inductees, some remarkable media professionals that drew my attention, and some heroic teachers and former student athletes and coaches.
I found myself reflecting on my life, the recent deaths I’ve suffered, and am still suffering through I would imagine. I thought of how I’ve taken many, many steps to try to be the better adult that listens to his better angels, rather than the self-involved kid who reacted to every impulse of happiness and adventure. These men and women, many of whom are younger than me, are making an impact on a global level, and they started right here in Lee County.
It makes you feel somewhat smaller and unaccomplished. There’s always more to do, but at what point do you fuel the jet and take off? It can’t be everyone’s role to do something so off-the-charts dynamic that your community recognizes you with a Hall of Fame induction. Some people just aren’t built to do that.
 I think I’m one of those people. Sure, we chronicle these other events and make people aware of these wonderful people, but as social media carries more and more of our days’ unsubstantiated news blurbs, good journalism is maybe seeing its final days.
These stories from presenters about the accomplishments of the dozen and a half former Hawks had me thinking I haven’t done enough. Do we ever feel like we’ve done enough? Is that what life is about. I’m not sure. These accomplishments are certainly worth recognition, don’t get me wrong. It’s not about that. It’s about the value of one’s efforts and whether we do it for recognition, to be the best, or “for the love of the game”.
There’s probably a nice co-mingling of all three.
I guess maybe a really good case in point is the McDonalds we ate at in the Ozarks Friday morning before our last round of golf. I was so impressed by the staff at this place. Hourly paid “burger chain” employees coming around and checking on our meals and taking trays and then a bright smile and “have a nice day” on the way out.
It was, in a word heard many times Saturday morning, quite remarkable. It restored faith just a bit in people’s ability to do their jobs. Which is why these recognitions of former students' impacts on the world is so critical.
At the end of the day, and on my way back out to my truck after forgetting to get my Crozier fix, I realized that what I do is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things and I’m just fine with that.
As long as I can get a week of golf with about 12 friends of mine from all walks of life in Lee County, I’ll survive. Just like I survived playing Mr. Belvidere to Dan Fullenkamp after he beat me bowling Wednesday afternoon. We got our 18 holes in and the clubhouse was closed so we walked down to the local bowling alley where Dan was begging for a bowling battle. No one took him up despite repeated goading from one of our compatriots.
I decided, as a former Palm Bowl alumnus, to take up the challenge. But I added a caveat that whomever lost had to wait on the other for the rest of the night with the proper surname. Mr. Fullenkamp v. Mr. Vandenberg.  Mr. Fullenkamp, I bow to your keggling prowess and was happy to get drinks and snacks for you the rest of the night despite everyone begging me to stop. A bet's a bet…But that’s Beside the Point.
Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at

Beside the Point, Sunday, opinion, commentary, Hall of Fame, inductees, golfing, friends, expectations, Pen City Current, Chuck Vandenberg


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