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Mailing It In: Luka, Frank Garza are the Best

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Everyone’s getting busy but the Garzas continue to make time for their Hawkeye family.

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen, Iowa City Press-Citizen via Imagn Content Services, LLC

I’ve remarked probably 10 times in the last couple weeks how absurd it seems to me that we have gone from absolutely nothing to do for the last year to not having enough time to do everything. My family and I have been pretty well secluded since this whole pandemic kicked off nearly 14 months ago. Sure we did a few things and as we got deeper into things, we found our new normal that allowed us to at least venture out of the house and add some key people to our little bubble.

But the last month or so has seen things flipped on their head. Both my wife and I are fully vaccinated, as are both sets of parents and our entire immediate family. Most neighbors are vaccinated, and some have been for months. Increasingly, it’s becoming hard to find someone we may come into contact with who isn’t vaccinated. That’s great news.

It also means that things around us are opening up. And speeding up.

For our particular family unit, that means we now have soccer for our oldest every Saturday. The middle child gets his shot on the pitch every Sunday. Then two days a week the oldest has baseball. Both are back to in person school five and two days each respectively. We are comfortable enough to have contractors in our house and after a year of DIY we need them here. We have plans to do things once again.

All that to say, we are officially busy and this past weekend was no exception. The aforementioned soccer meant we missed the spring game Saturday morning, but we were able to take part in some of the ancillary stuff.

One such ancillary thing was an autograph signing by Luka and Frank Garza at the Black and Gold Shop in Coralville. It wasn’t something we had planned to do after my request for a ticket in advance was denied, but when we drove by following some errands, the line didn’t look too bad so I parked the car and grabbed a ticket on site for each of my two oldest boys.

I was wrong. The line was bad. What I couldn’t see from the street was the line that looked like it just went to the end of the store actually went around the side of the store and then snaked back again. Making matters worse, it didn’t move for the first half hour we stood there.

At the end of the day, we were in line for almost an hour and a half. The four and six year olds were absolute stars for waiting that long to do anything. But what really stood out to me was the way they were treated once they got their shot.

The six year old, after asking me half a dozen times, “what would you do if you met Luka in real life?!?”, had used the long wait to iron out the details of what he wanted to say:

You’re the best Hawkeye ever. I’m the biggest Hawkeye fan and I want to play just like you.

When he got up there, he totally froze. Deer in the headlights, no words at all, just a blank stare as he set down the photo you received with your ticket for Luka to sign.

Cut to the four year old, who walked up and jumped right in:

4yo: Hi Frank, I’m Everett.

Frank Garza: Hi Everett, it’s great to meet you! Thanks so much for waiting in line.

4yo: Hey, hey, I got this dinosaur today. Do you wanna see it?

Frank Garza: Wow! And look, your mask has a dinosaur on it too. I love your mask! It matches your eyes!

4yo: Yeah, my mom got it for me. And my dad got me this dinosaur. Hey Luka, did you see my dinosaur?

After an hour and a half of sitting at a table, meeting adoring fans and signing autographs, there was no let up. Both Frank and Luka were as engaged with the end of the line as they were no doubt at the beginning.

Luka went on to break the ice with the older son, who finally got out his prepared piece before we got to snap a few pics of the boys with Luka and the Naismith Trophy, which was legitimately bigger than my four year old. It was a tremendous experience that both have not stopped talking about since (albeit for different reasons). I’m incredibly grateful to both Frank and Luka for taking the time to make each kid feel special regardless of how long they had been sitting there doing the same thing over and over.

My oldest son is old enough to at least understand that Luka is the best Hawkeye to-date and think that is super cool right now. But both will some day have an understanding of the greatness that was before them and we’ll always have those photos and videos to relive the comedy that is youthful innocence. For that, I am grateful.

Now, on to the questions. What’s been on your mind this week?