The following is a transcript for Episode 3 of Season 3. Click on the embed above to listen to, or you can subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app.
Season 3 of Razed Sports is brought to you in partnership with the Dominic Fouts Memorial Cancer Fund, which helps patients and family members pay for cancer treatments. For information on how to help, go to DomFoutsFund.org.
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Bridget Porter: “He was always there for all of us. There was five of us! And he was always there. Always at our events.”
In April of 2020, my father, Tim Harkins, died of cancer. This is a tribute to him.
Episode 3: Loyalty
[DAD, TO 1-MONTH OLD TEAGAN: You can come stay with Nana and Papa and go to Gonzaga, and we’ll have your own key to the house. And I’m sure your folks will buy you a car. And then, you’ll have plenty of beer in the fridge, you can bring your friends over any time. And we’ll have study hours from 7-9. …]
This is my Dad, talking to my daughter, Teagan, in 2006. She’s less than a month old at the time and just tiny in his arms. She and her twin brother Jordan had just been born about five weeks premature, and Dad is already recruiting her to his alma mater, Gonzaga University.
[DAD TO TEAGAN: I’ll fix up your own room for you. With plenty of Gonzaga pennants, and, you know, Gonzaga … lampshades …]
[DAD TO TEAGAN: Mmhmm. Nana will embroider it for you.]
[ME: You going to pay her tuition as well?]
[DAD, QUICKLY: No I don’t think so.]
I should also mention, that while Dad is recruiting my infant daughter, promising her beer, a car and a room filled with Gonzaga … lampshades … he is wearing a Gonzaga polo shirt, which has the logo of the their Bulldog mascot inches from her face. If you couldn’t tell, Dad loved Gonzaga.
And that’s understandable. Gonzaga is where he met Mom. It’s where he made a large group of friends he was close to his entire life. It’s where he would graduate from twice, first with a business degree, then with a law degree. And it’s where he devoted more than a half-century of intense sports fandom.
But this love for Gonzaga did not actually start with my Dad. It goes back a tiny bit further than that to Dad’s older sister, my Aunt Kathleen. She went to Gonzaga first. A year later, she was thrilled when my Dad decided to follow her from Tacoma to Spokane.
[KATHLEEN: I was absolutely over the moon ecstatic that he was coming. So it started out together with the two of us, his freshman year, my sophomore year. We didn’t hang out all the time but we hung out a fair amount … Gonzaga was a family. It was a small school and we were a family.]
[MUSIC TRANSITION: Kwon, Into It]
In addition to being a family, Gonzaga is where Dad would make a transition from a young athlete to an adult sportsman. Mom recalls Dad playing mushball – which is sort of a derivation of softball – and smashing home runs over the cafeteria roof. She says he enjoyed the physical sports, like rugby. And in recent years we learned that he was a good enough intramural football quarterback to earn the nickname “Threadneedle.” This was also the beginning of his love for Gonzaga hoops.
[AUDIO OF GONZAGA HOOPS CLIPS, “THE SLIPPER STILL FITS”]
Gonzaga basketball, now, is well-known as a power, consistently considered a national title contender, consistently sending players to the NBA. But long before Sabonis and Olynyk, before Karnowski and Morrison, even before the great John Stockton, Dad was a fan.
When Gonzaga started going to the NCAA Tournament, Dad would pick the Bulldogs to win his bracket. He did this every year — well before it was fashionable to do so — and I remember teasing him about it – “thank you, once again, for your money, sir”. But that never stopped him. And when they started getting really good later on, his fandom grew more intense. He was on the recruiting web sites, he’d go watch their offseason pick-up games in person. He knew everything that was going on with the team. And more than anything, Dad was there at the games, first as a student and then as a long-time season ticket holder.
I remember those games so well … filing into our seats close behind the visitor’s bench at the Martin Centre (and later the McCarthey Center). Dad would sit and watch, almost serene, quietly analyzing the game, explaining to whoever was sitting next to him what was going on and what needed to happen for Gonzaga to win.
My sister Allison calls this “The Analysis”, a term her husband Adam came up with to sum up the experience of attending a game with Dad.
[ALLISON: Anytime we’d watch a game, Adam asks me “so does your Dad have any analysis on that one?” Cuz he did. He always had thoughts on what’s done well and what’s not done well, and, anyway. It started with going to the games. Cuz he’d sit there, a couple rows up and he’d always have pointers on ‘oh they did this or they did that. Or they should do this or maybe they should do that. He’d be analyzing it the whole time. Not just watching it for fun. But really looking at the game. So, apparently he’s done that with Adam, too.]
My sister Bridget has similar memories:
[BRIDGET: He would like sit there, during the whole game with his arms crossed across his chest, watch the game, and what he would do is sit there and just talk to me the whole time — tell me what’s going on, explain the game, explain what happened. … He’d be like “you see that guy there? He needs to do this.” Or “man they haven’t seen that he does this move every time he comes down the court.” You know? (laughs) And it was just, I don’t know, I thought that was cool because we were having fun, and I was learning about the game, which made it way more interesting to me, and then I was getting into it.”
Dad was sharing his love for Gonzaga, and for basketball. And he was also, whether we knew it or not in the moment, coaching. And this is something he would do for us his entire life. In sports, and beyond.
[MUSIC TRANSITION: Dyalla, Help Me, OP-1]
Dad coached all of us growing up. Mostly in basketball at All Saints, a K-through-8 Catholic School on Spokane’s South Hill. He wasn’t easy on us — we all remember running a lot of lines – but he was fair. Although maybe, at least in our eyes when we were kids, not always THAT fair. He made it clear that being his son or daughter would not bring any special treatment.
My brother Paul remembers distinctly the injustice he felt when Dad made him scrimmage with the second team during practice, even though he would start in games. He never seemed to quite buy the line that Dad wanted him to help the backups play better.
Bridget recalls Dad making an example of her once when she had to leave practice early to go to a dress rehearsal for the “The Nutcracker” ballet, even though that decision was officially approved by Mom, and by Dad himself.”
[BRIDGET: And Mom and Dad decided that I should go to practice for a little bit and then I would leave and go to my ballet dress rehearsal. And he pushed me really hard at practice, and then because I had to leave early, he made me do, I don’t know if it was just one set, but at least one set of lines by myself in front of everybody, because I had to leave early. I think I cried. But then I think later he was like ‘well I can’t treat you special. You know I can’t give you special treatment over the other girls.’]
My sister Katie remembers being upset, too. Not because Dad came down on her, but because he was tough on her friends, which she found humiliating.
[KATIE: … he was pretty strict. He made my friends run a lot of laps and a lot of lines if we weren’t in line. And it was embarrassing. … I told him if he ever coached me again I wouldn’t play. (laughs) Cuz I was like ‘you always make my friends do lines.’]
The picture I have painted here might make Dad seem like he pushed us pretty hard — and he certainly did — but it wasn’t that one-dimensional. Yes, he had lessons to teach us. Lessons about hard work and fairness and more. Yes, he wanted us to be our best. But he was also understanding. He also knew when to back off.
Paul tells a story that illustrates this. It was back at All Saints, and Dad was coaching. Paul used to get teased for having big ears — “Dumbo,” you know, and other things middle school kids might say. And one time at practice, the teasing became more than he could take. And he exploded. And there was a scuffle. Paul was expecting to get in trouble over the whole thing. But he didn’t. Dad let it go.
[PAUL: He just had a way of, whether you’re in a fight with somebody or not, of not coming down hard on you when you’re already getting your ass kicked anyway. You know what I mean? He knew when you were. He didn’t know how to stop it always, but he knew when you were and he knew not to pile on if you were messing up you know? … He could diffuse it and you know for me, for whatever I’m upset about, the world’s ending, but for him, he’d just say, he’d talk you down and make you realize that it’s not a big deal. … Or it’s a big deal and he understands and he respects how much you care and your emotions for the situations, but I’m here for you and I love you and you’ll grow into those ears.]
This was Dad. Tough? Yes. Making sure we knew that things weren’t always going to go our way? Absolutely. But also knowing us all so well. Fair. Understanding. Empathetic.
[MUSIC TRANSITION: Unicorn Heads, Beach Walk]
Like “The Analysis” Dad would give while watching Gonzaga basketball games, he was always willing to give advice or tips. And if you asked him, he’d give it to you in a straightforward, honest, thoughtful way.
Examples are plenty. When Bridget was playing volleyball in high school, and she realized that setter was the position where she’d have the best opportunity, Dad told her she should practice her setting against the side of the house. When Allison ran track and cross country, he would sometimes go on runs with her and encourage her to raise her game in … the finer points of successful distance running.
[ALLISON: … he would go running with me here and there. The one thing that he did do, was he tried to always teach me how to spit. (laughs) because I couldn’t do it. I would end up like spitting on myself. And he was like ‘no you gotta do it like this, you gotta spit OUT.’ ]
And I think he worked with everyone at one point or another on the basketball court across the street from our house, teaching the tricks of defense, how to tug on someone’s shorts when they’re going up for a shot, or how to pull leg hairs when being backed down in the post. And always, always, always … learn to use your off hand.
[PAUL: Across the street he always told me, ‘Paul, you gotta be able to go left, you gotta be able to go left. You can’t just rely on your right hand, you’ve gotta be able to go left.’ And so I would practice and practice and practice and practice. And then I told him once ‘Dad I don’t know how to go right anymore.’ (laughs)]
[BRIDGET: … he told me to always go left. Not even just regarding to sports, I think. Just always go left. (laughs).]
Bridget mentions things outside of sports, too, and this is key, because Dad always had wisdom to share in other areas as well. He always seemed to know when we needed a push. That is what happened with Allison.
[MUSIC TRANSITION: Unicorn Heads, Beach Walk reprise (piano enters)]
Allison started working for Dad at his law office when she was in high school. He taught her to handle billing and filing and things, but it went further than that — he actually put her to work doing legal research.
[ALLISON: He had a custody dispute between the US and Canada, where one parent was in Canada and one was here. It involved the Haig Convention. And he wanted me to research cases on that. On those issues. And at the time it’s all through the books. So he sent me over to Gonzaga Law Library with a sandwich bag full of dimes for copying.]
She scoured stacks of books, looking for past cases that might apply, perhaps dozing off occasionally, but eventually making a bunch of copies, bringing it all back to Dad. And later …
[ALLISON: and I think he won, it was an appellate brief — so it wasn’t lower level, it was the appeals court. And he sent me a copy of it and he was like ‘you helped me with this brief, you did all the research.’]
This set the stage for later when, after graduating from Santa Clara University, Allison was unsure what she wanted to do. She moved back home to Spokane and was trying to figure things out. And she mentioned that maybe, she might want to go to law school, but wasn’t necessarily confident about it.
[ALLISON: When I was wondering about taking the test to get into law school, he was like ‘just do it. Just do it. You can always quit if you don’t like it.’ But he knew that I don’t quit things. So (laughs). So when I was on the fence he pushed me towards it. He knew I don’t just quit. I wouldn’t quit in the middle of law school. I’m gonna finish it and then I’m gonna do the work afterwards. … He was like ‘just take the test, just do it, just apply. Like, you’ll do great.’
Allison went on to practice law for 16 years before recently deciding to take a hiatus.
[MUSIC TRANSITION: Unicorn Heads, Beach Walk, reprise (guitar enters) and fade]
Dad was always there, and Mom, too. Always attending our events in person, whether in sports or whatever we were into. Always cheering us on and supporting. Always ready with some analysis, or advice, or help … or a push in the right direction.
[BRIDGET: He would help anybody out. And not only was he such a good person, and so helpful and not judgmental and kind to everybody, he was always there for all of us. There was five of us! And he was always there. Always at our events.]
This continued into the next generation as well, and not just in recruiting the grandkids to Gonzaga. It was so much more than that. When Teagan would later show a talent for painting, Dad commissioned her to create one for him. When her brother Jordan got into musical theatre, Mom and Dad came to Los Angeles to watch him perform.
And for those who got into sports, there was really a special bond. This was especially true for Katie’s kids, Cenendra and Ollie — who are the older grandkids — and particularly for Ollie, who took to basketball and baseball, two sports Dad really loved. Here’s a voicemail Dad left for them …
[AUDIO: DAD CALL TO OLLIE AND CENENDRA]
Here’s Katie …
[KATIE: The last basketball game he saw of Ollie’s was at the beginning of December this year. Ollie got some good playing time this year. So that was nice, so Dad was able to see him play and you know Ollie’s a small kid so his biggest piece of advice was try to get that outside shot. And that’s where that step-back comes in. Step back and shoot.]
Always bringing The Analysis …
[KATIE … But every time he would come visit us, every time he would go there, we’d go down to the park or we’d play on the back patio here and Dad always actively would spend at least an hour out there taking shots with him or actively playing defense. You know he’s big into fouling, or pulling down shorts and shirts (laughs). And sometimes we would team up and it would be Jesse and Ollie against Dad and I. And I think I got my fouling from Dad. So we were more the rough and tumble team. Those two couldn’t get a shot off.]
[MUSIC TRANSITION: Kwon, Into It, reprise]
During that last week with Dad in Spokane. My Aunt Kathleen called me. And during the course of our conversation, she pondered, where was she going to get her Gonzaga news? She lives in Western Washington, and Dad over the years, the decades even, had remained her main connection to the school, to the basketball team, to the Gonzaga family. And this struck me as significant. And so recently, I asked her about that comment, and this is what she said.
[KATHLEEN: … either I’d call him or he’d call me and we’d be chatting and I’d say ‘OK what kind of team are we going to have this year?’ And he would know every kid who had been out on the court and whether he was going to actually make the team, and where he had come from and all his stats, and he’d fill me in and I’d actually be taking notes so that I could keep everything straight.]
And then, a little later on, she said this …
[KATHLEEN: What keeps running through my brain and through my heart actually is that I think it’s a family thing. I think Gonzaga created a family for us when we were there and you never leave it. And if you’re lucky to be right there with it your entire adult life you just, you hang onto the family.]
It’s a family thing. Isn’t that so true.
And whether it was Gonzaga, or his friends, or his siblings, or his kids … or his grandchildren … Dad was always there. Analyzing. Pushing. Guiding. Encouraging.
You hang onto family. That’s loyalty.
This episode was written and produced by me, Bob Harkins. Special thanks to Bridget Porter, Kathleen Keeney, Allison Lauritson, Katie Hancock and Paul Harkins, for taking part in this episode … and also to my Mom, for everything. The theme song comes from Corbyn Kites, other music by Kwon, Dyalla and Unicorn Heads. This season of Razed Sports comes to you in partnership with the Dominic Fouts Cancer Fund. For more information, go to DomFoutsFund.org. Razed Sports is a proud member of the Story Hangar podcast network.
*** *** ***
Written and produced by Bob Harkins.
Theme song: “Orbit” — Corbyn Kites
Kwon — “Into It”
Dyalla — “Help Me, OP-1”
Unicorn Heads — “Beach Walk”
(All music edited for time purposes)
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