Once He Was 12, Now He Is Gone

In my line of work, watching people play games and then writing about it, you remember things.

You remember players. You remember names. You remember moments. You might not remember all three at the same time, but like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle you can often put a few things together to remember a more complete picture.

Sometimes, the special athletes stay with you for a long time. You watch them grow up. You cover their youth sports experiences. You watch them become stars at the high school level where their athleticism can take them to college. And the special ones … well, if you’re lucky, you might even get to write about them when they reach the pinnacle of their arenas, and get to see them play professional sports.

Bryant Lausberg 1989-2016

Bryant Lausberg
1989-2016

What could be better than playing sports and getting paid for it? Well, if you ask me, writing about people who play sports is a pretty good gig.

This morning, while going through my usual routine of reading my five or six morning newspapers online, I stumbled across a name from my past.

Bryant Lausberg.

The name took me back to a place and a past.

The 20th century; Somersworth, New Hampshire; a Little Leaguer with his whole life ahead of him.

The headline, however, left me saddened: “Woman charged in drug death of teacher, coach Bryant Lausberg”

Demons haunt us in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes we beat them. Sometimes they get the better of us.

Sometimes they get the best of us and kill us.

The window in which I covered a young Mr. Lausberg was small. I was gone from New Hampshire long before he reached high school and became a star athlete, one who took his talents to Plymouth State College.

But he loved sports so much he made it his life. He became a physical education teacher and a coach. How many lives in his young career had he already touched, I wondered?

Not enough is the final answer.

According to a report in Foster’s Daily Democrat, Lausberg was found unresponsive in his home by his girlfriend. He was later pronounced dead.

He was 27 years old.

His bio in the Foster’s report filled in the rest of his life.

“Lausberg graduated in 2007 from Somersworth High School, where he played football, hockey and baseball, and was a member of the 2005 Class M state championship baseball team. He is also one of the leading scorers in the Somersworth hockey program’s history with 176 points. He later attended Plymouth State University, where he spent three seasons on the baseball team. As a coach, Lausberg spent one year as a graduate assistant at Plymouth State and coached American Legion baseball for Durand-Haley Post 66 in Plymouth. He was the coach of the Somersworth/Coe-Brown hockey team for two seasons, 2014-16, and he coached Marshwood baseball for one season, in 2015.”

I look at this picture and I can almost see the 12-year-old boy I covered that one summer long ago.

He seemed to be traveling the right roads, doing the right things. But even off the cleanest of roads are dark alleys with passages where you can get lost.

All it takes is one person with a bad batch of drugs and the cruel hand of fate to decide it’s time.

I knew the young and innocent Bryant Lausberg, not the one battling with demons bigger than he could endure.

That’s the boy I’ll always remember — just a flash from a long career filled so many athletes just like him.

His name stayed with me. So too will the final chapter of his story.

RIP, Bryant.

Let Trump Be Trump

When it comes to the 45th President of these United States, here’s the one thing I am hoping for: I hope Donald John Trump doesn’t change a bit.

Now I can’t believe I am saying that, but it’s true. As a liberal-leaning Independent who has voted on both sides of the party line in my life, I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Mr. Trump.

He’s a buffoon. And a bunch of other adjectives, but by now you’ve heard them all.

Our next president of the United States of America. No, I'm serious. It really is. (Photo courtesy of slate.com)

Our next president of the United States of America. 

But, the people have spoken and come January, we’ll be renaming 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., “Trump Plaza-DC.”

I just hope he doesn’t change one iota.

And this is why.

Trump claims to be his own man. But more than 60.2 million Americans picked him to be their man, as well.

They didn’t just vote for a reality television star who is too cocky for his own good. They voted the way they did because they were tired of politics as usual and they wanted real change. God bless them for that.

I’m tired of politics, as usual, as well. But I couldn’t bring myself to vote for this person.

People say a Trump presidency is embarrassing to this country.

Well, Washington has embarrassed pretty regularly over the last few decades, especially the Republics. Each and every move further divided this country, destroyed their own party and brought us to 2016 with this man as our next President.

From spending $80 million needlessly investigating President Clinton back in the 1990s to leading us into a war we never should have gotten into (Iraq, Part II), to the last six years of refusing to work with President Obama or anybody not affiliated with their party, to doing their duties and naming the most recent Supreme Court justice, the Republican politicians have failed this country big time.

And the Democrats? Well, they’ve usually refused to fight.

Together, they could have made change possible. But they failed at every turn.

And now a “Republican” sits once again in the highest office of the land, but let’s face it … Donald Trump is not your typical Republican.

Let’s not forget, the man was a Democrat once. He’s also been an Independent.

So who knows what kind of president Trump will be.

I just hope he remains the Donald Trump the people voted in.

I hope he remains a headache for the Republicans, who hated the bejesus out of Trump until he reached 370 electoral votes. Now, they’re trying to act like best friends.

I hope he’s a thorn in the side of Democrats, too.

And for every stupid thing he does that leads to 60.8 million voters (that’s Hillary’s people, winning the popular vote, mind you) yelling unison, “We told you so,” I also hope he sits down at a table with both sides of the party and really does bring them together for the betterment of this country.

That’s why he’s sitting there, folks. To change things up.

If he can bring just a little bit of change to Washington in the next four years, that’s going to bring a whole new slew of candidates who can change things even more … people both sides can respect, look up to and vote for without feeling like they just came out of an X-rated video booth instead of a voting booth.

But for that to happen Donald Trump needs to remain Donald Trump.

If gets into bed with one side or the other, this whole 2016 election is going to be worthless — and it was far too painful for us to have taken so many steps backwards without moving forward in the future.

So let Trump be Trump.

 

The American Revolution, Part Deux

I woke up this morning and discovered last night wasn’t a dream.

Donald John Trump — millionaire, misogynist, TV Star, tax evader — is the President-Elect. Come January, he’ll put his hand on a bible and be sworn in as the 45th President of these United States of America.

Less than a week before the election I wrote on my Facebook page that “turnout” was going to be the deciding factor. And, boy, was it ever.

Americans turned out in droves to vote for Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton, who was hated as much as Trump, it seemed.

Turns out, she was hated even more.

Angry Americans, fed up with the politics-as-usual that this country has been force-fed for all of our lives, rose up even more and voted Trump.

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Our next president of the United States of America. No, I’m serious. It really is. (Photo courtesy of slate.com)

As such it all made sense to me this morning when I read a social media post of a man I respect a lot.

This was nothing short of an American Revolution — minus the Boston Tea Party, over-confident Redcoats and a pile of dead bodies, of course.

And you didn’t even need your precious little Second Amendment to do it. #thinkaboutthat

So in the words of Josiah Bartlet, the greatest “President” of my lifetime, “What’s next?”

We have an utter, prolific buffoon taking the highest office in the land and he’s doing so on an island.

He’s burned bridges all across the country with those he now has to work with to get things done.

Republicans control the government (still), but them being true-to-life politicians you know they’re going to rush to Trump’s side like Pavlov’s dogs, salivating and panting as the inaugural bells start to ring.

The Democrats will do the same because Trump is not your typical Republican. (This is all the hope this President offers, you know?)

Trump will get in bed with anybody. He has gotten in bed with Democrats plenty of times because it forwards his agenda. He’s gotten in bed with Republicans, too, but he’s proceeded to kick them all out because they didn’t side with him.

Nobody knows what to expect. Not even Russia.

But there are plenty of concerns sitting front and center.

Since the Republicans refused to do the job they were elected to do (See the problem here, America? We voted these people in and they’re not doing their job) and name a Supreme Court Justice, Roe vs. Wade could be in serious trouble in 2017.

Obama-care? As it is, it’s in big trouble and in some cases that’s a good thing. If Trump and his government blows it up totally, that’s a lot of sick kids whose child care will be paid for by you and me, and not the insurance companies. And if you have a pre-existing condition? Well, you’re as good as dead to the Republicans, even if they do lose a vote or two.

The wall? OK, now you’re just making me laugh .. until the first brick gets laid down. Stay tuned.

Look, nobody knows what to expect and that’s the exciting part for the people who voted for him. It’s also the scary part for people who didn’t.

For his entire life, Trump has been about all things Trump. Money. Power. Women.

When he wanted something, he set out to get it and he didn’t give a damn about what was left behind in his wake.

That could make for a good president … if he is true to his word and wants to bring this country back together.

The jury is way too far out to pass judgement, so it’s still impossible to hide the fear. Yes, it’s literally been “too soon.”

 

But for those of us who don’t follow through with our threats and move to Canada, we’re all in this ride together.

I give Mr. Trump less respect than I give George W. Bush Jr., or Richard Nixon at this point. I just don’t like the man, but I haven’t seen the President yet.

The first time Trump screws up, more than 50 million “Told-you-so’s” will echo from coast to coast. (After all, Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote 59,198,567 to 59,054,701 — how close is that?). But, once again, that whole electoral college thing got in the way so the people’s choice doesn’t really count for anything.

Personally, I don’t see how he lasts four years. His ways aren’t very presidential so I see him going down like Nixon, in disgrace, meaning we just voted in President Pence.

For me, that’s a possibility that’s even scarier than President Trump.

We created this mess. We deserve this mess.

Now, we have four years to fix our country. Maybe Trump is part of that fix. Maybe he isn’t.

Until then, “May God Bless America.”