Joe, as you know, is the father of UConn senior tight end Ryan Gtiffin.
He has delighted with his flare for writing what he feels before and he here is again as his son steps on the Rentschler Field turf Saturday for the last time.
Here’s Joe Griffin….
Well, when I step onto Rentschler Field with my wife Pat and hug my son at the Senior Game formalities before tomorrow’s game, it will be with mixed emotions. Relief, Gratefulness,Melancholy, Happiness, Pride, Trepidation, and Sadness all mixed into one.
Relief for my son’s long college journey being over. It was fraught with many challenges for him, and his teammates, and they persevered through it all. I for one, will never forget Jazz and that torturous but magical season. Nor will I forget the OT win at ND. Or Dave Teggart’s kick in the swirling snow.
Gratefulness for the University’s generous scholarship which has, and will, allow my son to go places I would not have dreamed as a young person.
Melancholy over the many memories at Rentschler Field, not just watching great young men play a great game, but for the many wonderful people we came to meet in the last five years, from high fiving perfect strangers, to screaming on third down, to watching UConn’s fan base love their team, tailgating with our favorite people, and many other great memories.
Happiness from the realization that because of my son’s hard work and dedication, coupled with great coaching, and the guidance from his parents and peers, he has a road ahead of him that holds much promise, football or otherwise. That is not a guarantee for all young people today, and we should not take it for granted.
Pride in the University, the team and coaching staff, and my son. They accomplished a lot in his five years. Took a skinny high school kid, and transformed him into a fine young man with very useful skills both on and off the field. I am proud to hear him speak during interviews, and also to hear people speak of his character. I hope that Pat and I are some of the ingredients in that recipe as well.
Trepidation over what the future may hold. The University has provided just about everything they possibly could to ensure our son could become successful. It is almost time for him to break the bond and make his own way. So the future is uncertain, and that is okay. It will be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.
Sadness over the loss of seeing and being around the great UConn atmosphere for several months a year. From the first excitement of the Spring game to the final whistle of the regular season, and hopefully beyond. We will miss the packing of the gear, the planning and prepping of the tailgate food, lining up at the gate to be first in when the lots open, setting up, attending the Husky Walk, cooking, talking football and family, having a drink or two with great friends, and then game time. What a joy that has been, win or lose. We will miss our extended UConn family, but we will watch as vested spectators from now on. We will be Huskies forever.
I would like to personally thank Coach Mike Foley for his dogged determination to invite my son to attend school and play for UConn. He sat through a lot of boring basketball practices just for the chance to get a few minutes with Ryan (and his family). Other schools were interested, but none came close to the effort Mike put forth. He saw something in Ryan and I guess he was right.
Coach Edsall also came into our living room and impressed upon us that character was the most important trait in his recruits. That spoke volumes. So Thank you Coaches.
Ryan has had many position coaches along the way. He has liked them all. When Coach Deleone was hired, I saw it as a plus for my son, due to the NFL tight ends he had previously coached, as well as Coach Pasqualoni’s impressive NFL resume. Ryan saw it differently. These two coaches wanted something more from Ryan, which at the time he didn’t think he had it to give. It was a tough time for him, he was challenged in ways he hadn’t been before. Ryan will tell you now, that this coaching staff is directly responsible for showing him how to maximize at playing his position, and he definitely improved under their watchful eyes. Thank you Coach P and D.
Lastly, Thank you Desmond, and also John Silver for your friendship and your willingness to share with your readers the other side of the players, the human side. Under those pads and helmets lie some great people, with families, and dreams, hardships, and accomplishments.
Some people may not agree with your columns and blogs, but that’s the best part, guys. It shows that UConn fans care deeply for this team and this school. So keep writing your stuff. I will continue to read it. Let’s go beat Cincinnati and see our seniors off to the proud sendoff they rightly deserve.