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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wedding weekend: That can only mean one thing

    Ryan Caseyassistant sports editor
    Ryan Casey
    assistant sports editor

    Two weekends ago was wedding weekend at the Casey household. And that meant one thing: sports.

    Cousins, uncles, brothers, fathers – they were all there to watch my sister get married. But as my cousin Mark pointed out to me the day of wedding, they also came to play football, baseball and anything else we could think of.

    “”Whenever we get together,”” he said, palming my little brother’s football, “”we end up doing something like this.””

    So it came as no surprise when two weeks before the wedding, an e-mail arrived from my sister’s fiance, Chris, with the subject “”Wedding Activities.””

    “”Activities””? Who was he kidding? He meant football. Chris was more a part of our family before he married my sister, Sarah, than he knew.

    From the e-mail came a list of everyone who was planning to play – and it was all set: future in-laws ready to take on future in-laws in a four-team round-robin tournament. (I know. We take this stuff seriously.)

    Then Friday, the day before the wedding and the first day of the games, arrived. Turns out the bachelor party was the night before, so even though Chris – the reason for that party – made it out to the field, more than 10 of our planned players didn’t show up on account of, um, sickness. We ended up with two teams of four players.

    But that day in a park near my parents’ house in Scottsdale, numbers didn’t matter much, because we had about eight soccer

    But that day in a park near my parent’s house in Scottsdale, numbers didn’t matter much, because we had about eight soccer fields that were ours for the taking, ours to be molded into a gridiron. And so we did exactly that, using the soccer lines to mark end zones and sidelines, divvying up players between teams.

    fields that were ours for the taking, ours to be molded into a gridiron. And so we did exactly that, using the soccer lines to mark end zones and sidelines, divvying up players between teams.

    There was only one rule, and it came from Sarah: Don’t hurt Chris.

    Well, my father got the customary shot in at the son-in-law-to-be anyway – “”Pass interference!”” Chris yelped, as my dad chuckled to himself and his brother, Larry – and, with our offense making their defense look silly, we jumped out to a 21-0 lead at the half.

    Partially out of pity, but mostly out of strategy, my team devised a genius plan for the second half: Let my youngest brother, Cannon, be quarterback. After all, he was allowed to use the smaller ball and come on, in all seriousness, his name is Cannon. He was born to play quarterback.

    Cannon didn’t skip a beat, and – after a few touchdowns, thanks to the option offense – we ended up stopping the game out of mercy.

    Later on, we split up according to era – the three guys who grew up with modern technology (myself, Chris and Chris’ friend, Sean) and my 13-year-old brother, Kai, against the two guys who didn’t – my dad and Larry – and their youngest sons (my other brother, Cannon, and Larry’s son, Kaegan). It might not have been a battle for the ages, but it was definitely a battle of the ages.

    After both offenses’ attempts at the spread offense failed spectacularly in the first half, the younger legs – and trick plays (hey, we threw in a reverse or two) – eventually won out. And – outside of letting Uncle Larry sack me out of the kindness of my heart on a few plays – we did it in convincing fashion.

    After the game, we all went out to a burger joint by my parents’ house.

    “”You’re quick, Ryan,”” Larry said between sips of a beer, “”but I ran you down a couple times.””

    I turned to look at him. “”Yeah,”” I said with a smile. “”I’d say I was going about 60 percent.””

    Larry simply shook his head. “”You’re not supposed to tell your uncle something like that.”” He would spend the rest of the night, which included the rehearsal dinner, telling anyone who would listen how “”Ryan beat me up.””

    By the next day, wedding day, my cousins from New Jersey, Mark and Ben, had arrived in town. After about a half-hour of lounging by the pool, a full-fledged wiffleball game broke out in the backyard, complete with batting orders, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

    Outside of one team going back-to-back-to-back with home runs, the highlight of the afternoon came about 10 minutes into the game when Ben’s wife, Jenn, warned him to not stand so close when he was pitching to her.

    “”I’m going to hit you,”” she cautioned. Ben laughed it off.

    But the next pitch, she did exactly that, nailing her new husband in the face with a sizzling come-backer. The gallery of fans (namely my mom’s mom, Grammy, and everyone else in the extended family who wasn’t playing) erupted.

    “”Hey Ben,”” my uncle, Brad, yelled from our makeshift dugout, “”she warned you.””

    Ben shook it off, but the next time Jenn came to the plate, he was pitching from second base.

    As the teams thinned out, the game later evolved to a two-on-two game of football. Within the hour – and with an added player – we were five minutes away at a park, marking end zones with shirts and flip-flops. And wouldn’t you know, in true Arizona football fashion, the first play of the game was a bubble screen.

    But from then on, the game more closely resembled NFL Blitz, every play stretching the field. Cousins were trying to show up other cousins, and little brothers were trying to prove their superiority as each team took its best shot at the end zone.

    It happened right up until that last play of the game that afternoon (we had to leave for the wedding by 2:15, it was about 1:55), when Mark heaved a desperation throw in the thick of the four of us, magically landing – somehow – in Kai’s hands. (Cannon still contends he couldn’t stop the pass because I hit him in the head in an attempt to do the same thing.)

    If we could have, we would have stayed out there all day, but there was kind of this thing we had to attend. So we eventually went our separate ways – the cousins back to their hotel to shower up, us to the wedding grounds for some glamour shots – but the game never strayed far from our minds.

    Maybe Sarah, who’d been busy getting her hair done, didn’t notice we were gone most of the day. But I can guarantee you that if she hadn’t been in a salon that day, she would’ve been right there with us.

    Because for our family, sports are family.

    Ryan Casey is a journalism senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu

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