I awoke this morning with a smile on my face, sat in my favorite recliner & reminisced about the last 10 years. As of last night, I no longer have a student-athlete son in the house. With the culmination of the University of Texas-San Antonio's commencement exercises at 8pm Thursday evening my son Chip Ivany has passed into the world of a college graduate and now he's an unemployed bum (lol..not really, as he starts his career in a couple of weeks.) With his Bachelor of Arts (American Studies/History) in hand he's headed out to face the world. He'll work for the same company that he's interned with for the past three summers in the sports brand marketing field.
Coach Max & Chip Ivany after University of Texas -San Antonio commencement
I am recounting this partly out of pride, partly out of nostalgia, and to acknowledge all the folks who helped along the way (it takes a village to raise a child) as I've always been a single father. I also want to give other sports parents a chance to ponder what the "end game" is for their child as they take their basketball journey. With all due respect to the kids who dream of being a pro, GIVE IT A REST. Don't put all your eggs in this basket. Sure, keep your dream alive. I encourage that, but pursue it along with academic excellence. As the NCAA commercial says, most of our athletes go pro in something other than athletics.
After their summer year in high school, Chip and summer team mate Bryan Beasley (now the PG at Rice University) attended the famous Five Star Camp in Pittsburgh, PA and had a chance to pose with a young Chris Paul, long before he became the star of the New Orleans Hornets where he's now known as CP3.
After scoring over 1500 points in high school, Chip's college basketball odyssey began where he earned his scholarship to Hill Junior College (Hillsborough, TX).
I've been blessed to have coached 83 Division One scholarship players, 3 pros and countless others who went to Junior College. The Texas D1 Ambassadors program is still "young" in that our first graduating high school class was 2006. You can do the math, it's only 4.5 years ago. Many of our kids are in the pipeline to receive their degrees but it's not easy for a Division One athlete to graduate in the traditional 4 years, especially if they've transferred. (Does ANY kid graduate in 4 years anymore?) To date I can only take my hat off to 4 players from our program who have walked across the stage and picked up their sheepskin. (Several more are scheduled to graduate this spring).
Jeremy Buttell Colleyville Heritage Illinois-Chicago
Adhar Mayen Pflugerville Hawaii
Chip Ivany Pflugerville Connally Texas-San Antonio
Matt Zaney Austin St. Stephen's Texas-Pan American
Below left: After one year Chip transferred to South Alabama where along with Coach Ronnie Arrow they captured lightning in a bottle and were one of the top teams in the country where they became media darlings and dark horse favorites in many an NCAA Final Four office pool. It was not to be however as they ran into a hotshooting Butler Bulldogs team who were on their way to becoming NCAA Tournament giant killers. (Below right: NCAA Tourny in Birmingham, AL)
As parents, we all question our children's decision making from time to time and when Chip told me he wanted to transfer back to a college in Texas to be closer to home I questioned his. However, he agreed to the conditions I set out for him academically so he enrolled at the University of Texas-San Antonio.
There are many people to thank along the way who have impacted my son. Starting with my old AAU coaching buddies Mark Beasley( whose son Bryan plays at Rice) and Darryl Beasley who is now a big wig with the Texas UIL always stressed academics to go along with basketball. It's nice for a player to hear these priorities from other adults and not only from dear old Dad.
Chip was blessed to have two outstanding basketball mentors at Pflugerville Connally. Former Head Coach Brad Oestreich (now Head Coach at powerhouse Raytown South in Kansas City, MO) who ran his practices like a college coach and taught Chip to work hard. Current Connally Head Coach Marshall Sanders who in addition to basketball was always there to lend an ear about life.
Despite being recruited by a number of schools, Chip did not sign a scholarship in the November early signing period back in the fall of 2005 because he didn't have one. Like every parent, I was a little nervous because we all want our kids to live their dreams. I was in the process of turnng stones when my friend Buzz Williams (then an assistant at Texas A&M, now Head Coach at Marquette) called me about some basketball matter. In the course of conversation, he said Chip was too good a player to not continue on in the game and he told me he'd make a few calls amongst the coaching fraternity.
In all this journey, I have been proud of the way my son has carried himself. He's always been a great team mate and supportive of others. On September 27th of this year his life changed when his son, Julian was born. He's got a wonderul girl (and fellow college player) in his finacee' Miss Judy Jones and he is already a responsible, loving father and family man. Who could ask for anything more?
Sitting in the front row of the President's Box last night at the UTSA Convocation Center and holding my grandson Julian, while Chip walked across the stage to pick up his bachelor's degree was one of the most beautiful and gratifying moments I've ever experienced.