By Steve Robinson | February 26, 2013 - 10:01 pm
Posted in Category: News, The Normalite

NORMAL – Jude Boyer was remembered for “giving her life” to Illinois State University over the course of a 32-year career that reached into many areas of University life and touched dozens, if not hundreds, of students and faculty in the process.

A “Celebration Of Life” memorial service was held in the Ballroom of the Bone Student Center for Boyer on Tuesday, Feb. 26, giving family, friends, and former colleagues a chance to remember Boyer, who died while traveling en route to her Iowa family home on Dec. 23, at age 74.

Dr. Larry Dietz, Vice President of Student Affairs at ISU, remembered Boyer, who often was called “Judy” by some, rather than Jude, “loved athletics and the spirit of ISU.” He added that the idea of such an event like the memorial service would have prompted Boyer to insist the University “not make a fuss over her.”

“But,” Dietz told the group of 300 of Boyer’s family members and former colleagues, “She was worth making such a fuss.”

Rev. Jim Pruyne, a Boyer friend, joked that he wanted to know if God could let Jude come back until plans for spring commencement were completed.” Boyer spent a number of years as the Commencement Coordinator for ISU, and her efforts moved the University to progressing from holding just one large graduation ceremony to separate ceremonies for each of the University’s separate Colleges with individual recognition.

“Jude gave her life to ISU,” Pruyne told the gathering. “Jude chose to spend her life working with ISU students and faculty. She gifted her life. I know you all share in thanking her for the gift.” Pruyne then led the gathering in a silent prayer.

ISU President Al Bowman reminded the gathering Boyer served as ISU’s first Affirmative Action officer for women. “She was professional, partial, and never ambiguous. Those were traits that served Jude Boyer well.”

State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-53rd Dist.), attended ISU and became acquainted with Boyer when he was in Student leadership. He presented Boyer’s family with a proclamation from the State Senate, honoring Boyer for her dedication to ISU and years of service.

“For all of us who were in student leadership, we would cross paths with Jude,” Barickman explained. He added that after he went into politics, Barickman said Boyer was supportive of him because he was a former Redbird. “She was an institution in an institution. She touched so many lives in such a positive way.”

Dr. Neal Gamsky, Director of Student Affairs Emeritus, told the group that, after he became director of that University department in the 1970’s, he talked Boyer into becoming Associate Director. “That lasted 18 years,” he said, marking that it was a “tough time” for that office, dealing with events such as the Vietnam war, controversies surrounding the annual campus event known as “Rites Of Spring,” and the “Beer Riots” of the mid-1980s.

Gamsky remembered trying three times to talk Boyer out of becoming involved with supervising Commencement. “Neil, I love commencement,” Gamsky said Boyer told him, as he recalled their conversation for the audience. “Please don’t try to talk me out of it.”

Commencement was where Boyer’s skills shined. She was known to use a commanding loud voice in an effort to get professors and students alike into place for the production, Gamsky recalled.

“At Commencement, new department chairs would hear her and ask, ‘who is that woman?’” Gamsky explained, elaborating that once, a University employee answered, “That’s Jude Boyer, and you’d better do what she says.”

Doug Lamb, Boyer friend and former director of the University’s Student Counseling Center, recalled that although Boyer had a “no-nonsense and direct approach,” she also demonstrated a sense of loyalty toward those she worked with. Lamb referred to it as Boyer showing “a form of professional graciousness,” on behalf of those people and departments she oversaw, especially when dealing with the people who ran those departments.

Art and Ruth Boyer, Jude Boyer’s brother and sister-in-law, were the last people to address the gathering. “If there was a blessing of her passing, it was all the wonderful things we’ve heard about Jude from those who knew her at ISU,” Art Boyer told the gathering.

When her father developed a passion for race cars, it was at a time when Jude Boyer was the oldest of her siblings to get behind the wheel, Art Boyer said. Thus, a love of auto racing was born. There were pictures of Boyer shown on large screens on either side of the Ballroom stage – at least a couple of which were of a smiling Jude Boyer behind the wheel of a roadster.

“Jude was old enough and although she wasn’t the fastest, she was the only one with a ponytail flying out the back,” Art Boyer recalled. He added his sister’s love of international travel was evident when they went through her house after her death, as he explained finding “five or six passport books – all full.”

“We all knew not to call her during the Olympics or other sporting events,” Ruth Boyer added, producing chuckles from the crowd.

Boyer was born in Des Moines, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa’s Grinnell College, and a Master of Arts from ISU. In the course of her career, Boyer served as Chair of the University’s NCAA Accreditation Committee; Associate Vice President for Student Affairs from 1973-1999, and served as its director from 1999-2000; Was director of ISU Annuitants Association; A longtime booster and fan of ISU athletics and an honorary advisor to the University’s Red Tassel Chapter of Mortar Board.

Between the tributes given by Barickman and Gamsky, members of the ISU Pep Band played the ISU Fight Song, and prior to the ceremony concluding, with all present joining in, played in the background as those assembled finished by singing another Boyer favorite — The Beatles’ classic, “Hey, Jude.”

NORMAL – Head coach Kyle Bobbitt explained his El Paso Gridley girls’ basketball team began this year with a motto of “Dream Big.” The dream ended sweetly for Bobbitt’s crew, as the Lady Titans defeated Melrose Park-based Walther Lutheran Sabers, 55-46, to place third in Illinois High School Association Class 2A. Capturing third place marks the best finish in girls’ basketball the Lady Titans have ever had in their history, thus making the dream all the more sweet.

A crowd of roughly 2,100 fans – including what sometimes appeared to be the entire EPG student body, — turned out for the big game on Saturday, Feb. 24. The Titans and the Sabers (as in Saber tooth Tigers) matched basket-for-basket for the first 3 ½ minutes, tying the game at 6-all, before senior forward Isimeme Edeko sank a free throw, senior forward Ebony Sykes hit a bucket, and Edeko hit a deuce of her own to pull the Sabers in front, 11-6, with 1:25 left in the quarter. EPG senior forward Chelsea Kessinger’s layup with 1:03 left cut Walther Lutheran’s lead, 11-8, to open the second quarter.

Junior guard Rebekah Ehresman and junior forward Codee Schlipf hit back-to-back unanswered deuces to take a 12-11 lead at the start of the second quarter. After an exchange of baskets tying the game at 13-13, EPG (29-2) extended its lead on two buckets apiece from Ehresman and Schlipf, while Walther Lutheran, a running team fueled by track team members Edeko and senior Ebony Sykes, lagged behind, getting baskets from senior guard MaShayla Kirksey and Sykes, and two free throws from Edeko. That gave EPG a 21-19 halftime lead.

After a Kessinger layup started the third quarter, giving EPG a 23-19 lead, senior guard Anna Strong converted a three-point play after being fouled by EPG, cutting the lead, 23-22, with 4:49 left in the quarter. But after that, Kessinger, Ehresman, Schlipf, and sophomore Michelle Bigger combined to score eight points, and outpaced the Sabers, 8-1, en route to owning a 33-23 lead, with 2:57 left in that quarter. junior guard Dana Turner would score a deuce and two free throws late in the quarter for Walther Lutheran (26-7), but a trey by Ehresman with 55.7 seconds left in the quarter would spur EPG on to a 36-27 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Senior forward Mattie Buchanan saw action at the top of the last stanza and made the most of it, scoring five points off two deuces and a free throw, pushing EPG forward, 41-29, with 6:49 left in the contest. After a Walther Lutheran free throw by Edeko, EPG senior guard Jenna Souhrada’s trey at the 3:50 mark pushed the Lady Titans up, 46-32.

Turner hit a three-pointer, followed by buckets by Strong and Edeko, which pulled reduced EPG’s lead, 49-40, with 2:10 left. But fouls by the Sabers – including one that was intentional by Edeko on Souhrada — would send Souhrada and Schlipf to the free throw line, where they would go a perfect 4-for-4, putting EPG up, 53-42 with 40.6 seconds left. Buchanan would get the last bucket of the season and her high school career at the buzzer, resulting in the final score.

The team was honored and rewarded with their third place trophy halftime of the championship game between Nashville and St. Thomas More. Nashville took the Class 2A crown with a 42-29 victory. In Class 1A, Freeport Aquin defeated Mount Pulaski Co-Op, 55-46 to earn a State championship title.

When the final buzzer sounded, cheers went up from those sections of Redbird Arena where Lady Titans fans had spent the last two days living and dying with their favorite State Finals contenders. It was a item the players had noticed throughout the season.

“I can’t say enough about our community and our crowd,” Ehresman said. “You know, they’ve been behind us this whole journey, and we really feed off their energy and feed off of their support. They’re great.” She said that support has included, not just the in-person aspects of attending games, but also lending support with visits to the team’s Facebook page.

Schlipf led all players with 18 points. She was followed in double figures for the Lady Titans by Ehresman, who scored 16. Edeko led Walther Lutheran’s scoring, pocketing 12 points, followed by 11 from Dana Turner.

“These girls rallied together and we had the community behind us,” Bobbitt said at a news conference following the win. “To bring this home is very special because I have a very special group of seniors. All the girls bought into this. They came committed every day. It wasn’t easy, but the ride was worth it.

In a video he found of the Sabers in action, Bobbitt said he noticed that “Walther Lutheran was very quick. They were the quickest team we’ve played all year, so we wanted to force them to get and take tough shots. We struggled with rebounding when we needed it the most, and we got those rebounds.

“We’re an up-tempo team,” the coach added. “We made the plays when we needed them.”

“I asked them ‘How do you want this story to end?’,” Bobbitt said. “They had the opportunity to write it. Getting 30 wins was one goal. Not many teams had the opportunity to do it. And then, to bring home a third place finish and end the year on a win, only two teams can say that.”

“I think to actually be here, and be at Redbird Arena, and just the atmosphere of the whole community – I couldn’t ask for a better feeling,” said Souhrada. “I couldn’t ask for a better feeling, and to end my senior year, I couldn’t ask for a better end, especially with these girls. They’re like my sisters. It was an incredible feeling.”

“I wouldn’t trade these girls for anything,” Ehresman said. “These are the group of girls that I have, pretty much, grown up with, and they are the people I want to share this with. It has just been an amazing weekend.” Because they had just completed what was their last game together, she added, “We are a little upset about it being our last game together, but we couldn’t have ended it any better way. We’re happy.”

“You can’t get any better than to get into the State Finals,” Schlipf added, then referencing the loss to Champaign St. Thomas More that put them in the third place game, she said, “St. Thomas More was a tough loss for us, but we knew we had to get right back up and get out and play our last game. This team worked harder than anybody.”

“We started playing together and we ended playing together,” Kessinger said. “I couldn’t ask for any better place to end it than Redbird Arena. So, it’s an incredible feeling.”

“This group is a very resilient bunch,” Bobbitt said. “Being mentally strong is something we talk about all the time.” He said he tells his players the game, at the start of the season, is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical.

“I tell them at the beginning of the season, the game won’t be about how physical it is,” Bobbitt said. “Physically, we can play with anybody because our girls play extremely hard. But it is how we carry that pressure, how we carry the load, that matters.

“These girls are able to do that,” Bobbitt added. “They are able to move to the next play and not let a scoring run by the other team hurt them. We’ve done it all season to be able to bounce back. That says a lot about the girls’ character and about the girls themselves.”

“How we played today is how we are supposed to play,” explained Walther Lutheran head coach Todd Fisher. He said his team’s play can be characterized as “a scrappy, up-and-down the court team.”

“I know EPG is an up-and-down the court team, too,” Fisher said. “So I thought it was going to be a fun game.”

EPG Drops Semi-Final To Champaign St. Thomas More, 62-48: Fifth-ranked EPG reached the third place game after dropping a 62-48 decision to top ranked Champaign St. Thomas More, before a Redbird Arena crowd of 2,100 fans. St. Thomas More (32-2 after this game) jumped out to a 6-0 lead on baskets by Tori McCoy, Jade Brinkoetter, and Lexi Wallen before EPG’s first basket of the contest by Rebekah Ehresman cut the lead, 6-2, at the 6:46 mark.

Jenna Souhrada’s trey for EPG at 3:54 reduced the Sabers’ lead, 8-5, but a deuce by McCoy and trey by Wallen pushed Champaign St. Thomas More to a 13-5 lead on the way to an 18-14 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

McCoy and Ehresman exchanged baskets to open the second quarter, giving the St. Thomas More (32-2) a 20-16 lead. But starting with a rebound bucket by Wallen at the 6:50 mark, the Sabers scored 15 unanswered points to close out the half, owning a 35-16 lead.

EPG (29-2 after this contest) continued to lose ground in the third quarter due to sending three separate Sabers players – McCoy twice, and Brinkoetter and Wallen each once – to the free throw line, resulting in a combined 6-for-8, pushing the Sabers up, 44-16 before EPG ceased the barrage with a trey from Codee Schlipf at 2:52 in the third quarter. Souhrada would hit another trey with 14 seconds left in the quarter to cut the Sabers’ lead exactly in half, 52-26, to open the fourth quarter.

EPG went on an 8-1 run to open the fourth quarter as Schlipf began the last period by going 1-for-2 from the line, followed by a deuce from Michelle Bigger, cutting the Sabers’ lead, 52-29. Following a free throw by Wallen, EPG got a deuce from Schlipf and another trey from Souhrada to cut the Sabers’ lead, 54-34, with 4:50 left in the game.

Later in the quarter, Ehresman and Souhrada hit back-to-back unanswered deuces, forcing St. Thomas More head coach Chris Menning to take another of the two time outs he had taken during the quarter, and with EPG having sliced his team’s lead further, 59-45, with 1:42 left in the contest.

But EPG would commit back-to-back fouls following that time-out, sending Randa Harshbarger and Wallen to the line for the Sabers to sink a combined 3-for-4 free throws to close out the game, to advance to the championship game and put EPG in contention for third place against Walther Lutheran.

McCoy and Wallen led all scorers with 24 points, and 20, respectfully for St. Thomas More. Schlipf led EPG in double-figures with 14 points. She was followed in double-digits by 11 from Souhrada.

“It was a hard-fought battle,” Menning said. “Our kids’ defensive energy even surprised me a little. They really dug deep.”

“Ehresman is a tough little player,” Menning said, tossing a compliment her way. “We just tried to come at her in different ways and, eventually, that make it tough to make shots in the fourth quarter.”

Bobbitt started off complimenting St. Thomas More. “They have everything that you need to be in a championship game. They have prominent post play. They have slashers to get the ball to the goal, and they have some shooters outside,” he explained. “Tori McCoy is a freshman, but she doesn’t play like a freshman. She’s a very, very good player. One of the best in the nation and she showed why…”

In talking about defending Harshbarger, Ehresman admitted her task of getting around her nearly 6 foot-4 opponent was “really difficult.” “It was really difficult to get around her and I haven’t been too used to that. She stuck with me the whole game. I couldn’t hardly do anything. It definitely kinda took me out of my game a little bit,” Ehresman admitted.

I’m proud of our girls,” Bobbitt added. “”You know, in the second quarter, we kind of got into a little funk, and as we went on, we kind of sunk into a hole a little bit longer. But you saw – from with three minutes left in the third quarter to the end of the game – what our girls can do.

“We kind of opened up, those nerves let out, and we played our ball,” Bobbitt said. “We played Lady Titan basketball.”

By Steve Robinson | February 23, 2013 - 10:58 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite

The LeRoy Panthers did not make it to the Illinois High School Association State Basketball Tournament at Redbird Arena as a team this year, but they were able to get two players to the 3-Point Shooting Competition. Panthers seniors Lauren Russell and Shannon Steffen were able to get onto the big stage one more time for a shot at individual glory.

But although they gave it their all, neither Russell nor Steffen made the final cut by the end of the evening. Lauren, daughter Dave and Erlene Russell, sank 8 treys out of a possible 15. Shannon, daughter of Greg and Darla Steffen, sank 3 treys in the 45 seconds allotted.

Greg and Darla Steffen admitted they were nervous about the outcome of the event. “We were, all three of us, a little nervous” going into it, Greg Steffen said. Shannon said her coach, Panthers head coach Danielle Cooley, had advised her that should Shannon miss a shot she should calm herself down and make any adjustments on the spot. That might include something like changing her aim a little, when warranted, Shannon said.

Shannon said she practiced every day after school once the Panthers’ season came to an end. Greg Steffen also chimed in to his daughter for the need to slow down during the event when making shots. “She was rushing a little bit tonight,” Russell said from his seat about six rows from the Redbird Arena floor – known as “Doug Collins Court,” named for the former Illinois State University All-American and former NBA player, and now coach. “But she did great.”

“You pretty well had it under control,” Greg Steffen told Shannon as parents and daughter sat together after Shannon finished.

Darla Steffen’s advice to her daughter had more to do with soaking in the experience of being on a big stage. “Go out there and have fun, and enjoy the moment in getting this far,” Darla recalls telling Shannon.

“We’re just proud of her,” Darla Steffen added. Shannon’s college plans have her headed to Olivet Nazarene University, but she will not be a student-athlete – just a student, Shannon was quick to tell me.

Lauren Russell said being on the Redbird Arena hardwood had a familiar feel to it, “like I had been there before,” she said. “I missed it.” Of course, both she and Steffen had been there before, as members of the Panthers team that made it to State Class 1A Finals last year under Cooley’s direction, where the team took home a fourth place trophy and plenty of memories. But just because she had been here before didn’t mean there weren’t nervous moments before her turn came to shoot. Lauren said she was usually nervous before a Panthers game, and she was nervous here, too. Believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

Both girls split their practices for the three-point competition between their home high school floor at LeRoy High School and The Replex Center in town.

Lauren Russell will attend ISU but will not be playing for the Redbirds’ women’s team. “A couple schools talked to me about playing,” she said. “But I think I’m just ready to be a student. I’ve always had to juggle athletics and school. But I think I’m just ready to concentrate on school.”

Lauren said she wished she and her teammates could have repeated and made it back to State as a team, but that it was nice to get to the three-point competition, too. “It’s unfortunate that I didn’t advance, but it was fun,” she said.

Lauren said the advice Cooley gave her included making sure to use her legs when shooting, and making sure the ball carts being used were positioned properly when her turn came.

Erlene Russell said she and her husband were “no more nervous about the three-point contest than we would be not much more nervous than we would be during a regular season game.”

Now, I have spent time on the sports aspect of this story, but Darla Steffen pointed out a larger honor the girls will share come graduation time. The girls recently found out they will be co-salutatorians when LeRoy High graduates its Class of 2013. That’s right – these two good friends and good shots managed to tie for and will share that honor.

“We knew they were both very good students, but we were surprised that they both got it, tied for it,” Darla Steffen said. “We all thought that was kind of fitting considering what good friends they are.”

“They are both in a competitive class,” Erlene Russell said of LHS newest class of 61 graduates. “It’s an awesome honor. Both girls put in four years of hard work to get all the A’s.”

Being on any sports team creates a strong bond for those lucky enough to have the experience, and sharing the academic honor makes senior year for these girls that much more special.

On another subject, the 2012-13 1A-2A Girls basketball All-State teams were announced during the recent State Tournament. In Class 2A, congratulations to El Paso Gridley senior Rebekah Ehresman for being named to the Class 2A Second Team.

On another subject, we all know fan support is critical for team sports. And at first, I thought Luke Wilson was a one-man show of support when I saw his 20×30 poster taped to a yardstick at semi-final EPG played against Champaign St. Thomas More last Friday in Redbird Arena. Through most of the game, his poster of Chelsea Kessinger was the one that popped up the most frequently whenever there was a timeout or Kessinger made a play.

I started to wonder if he was a one-man band just supporting a friend. It turns out, team supporters made the posters for all the girls on the team and would sometimes, in unison, hold up their signs as if on cue. But the rest of the time, Wilson would seemingly hold his up more than his fair share. It turns out he and Kessinger are dating, and Wilson, an EPG sophomore, was just being extra supportive. You can’t beat that, can you?

NORMAL – Normal Council members unanimously approved the appointment of one person each for two separate Town Committees. As a result, Felicia Shaw will join the Connect Transit Board of Trustees, and Jason Chambers will join the Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation Board.

Shaw To Join Connect Transit Board Of Trustees: Felicia Shaw, 1103 Show Creek Lane, an 18-year employee of State Farm Insurance, 10 of those years as a Community Development Advisor. She also owns a business called Simply In Your Purpose, where she serves as a certified life coach and motivational speaker. She is also an author and radio talk show host.

Shaw earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Western Michigan University. Currently, she is vice chair of the McLean County Urban League Board, as well as the Education Chair for the Black Business Alliance. In addition, she is a member of the United Way Vision Council, and leads her praise team at Mount Moriah Christian Church. She is also National Project Community Chair for Sigma Gamma Rho sorority.

Shaw is replacing Trustee Mary Caisley, who resigned from the Board prior to her term scheduled expiration of June 30, 2014.

Chambers To Join Discovery Museum Foundation Board: Jason Chambers, the former Normal Council member who resigned in July, and is serving as McLean County State’s Attorney, has been appointed to the Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation Board. He will fill the unexpired term of Garrett Williams, who resigned from the Board. Chambers will serve on the Board until June 30, 2014.

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Omnibus agenda items approved by the Council included:

• Approval of minutes of the regular meeting held Feb. 4, 2013.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Feb. 13, 2013.

• A motion approving a revision of an agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to use $3,2000,000 instead of $2,300,000 in Federal Urban Surface Transportation (STU) Program funds for the improvement of Northtown Rd. from Towanda Ave. to Linden Street.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of a license agreement with Uptown Circle Development, Inc.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of a collective bargaining agreement with the Police Benevolent and Protective Association (PBPA) Unit 22.

By Steve Robinson | February 17, 2013 - 10:51 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite

By the time we are juniors in high school, the idea of spending a couple hours a week doing anything with our parents, to some, might seem more like an imposition rather than an opportunity to bond, or at least, reacquaint.

After all, by that age, we would have our own friends, would be immersed in school activities, and busy maintaining our studies besides, right?

Well, I know a young lady who has those things, too, but spends the majority of her late afternoons every Wednesday doing something I’ll bet her peers find different and folks my age appreciate.

Ginger McCleskey is a 17-year-old junior at Normal Community West High School, and one late afternoon in the middle of the week, she joins her father, Ballard, and mother, Sylina, for a weekly three-game bowling session at Illinois State University’s Bowling and Billiards Center. That’s when the ISU Faculty/Staff Wellness League gets together. Ballard, an Information Technology Manager at the University, and his family end their Wednesdays taking on opponents in a league that is open to ISU employees and their immediate family members.

The McCleskey’s team name is Spare Me. I’m sure there’s an irony in how that name was chosen, but Ballard McCleskey explains choosing the name was a hurried process. The three of them wanted something quick, and, of course, bowling related.

In full disclosure, I should point out that when I’m not covering meetings or games for this essential publication, I, too, work at ISU and bowl in this league. Also, at one point in the number of years I have been part of the league, Ballard and I were teammates (I think he would appreciate a condolence card from readers for that alone, not just how we did some weeks).

But back to Ginger’s joining our weekly fun session: The McCleskeys attended an organizational meeting for the league and “Dad said they needed an extra bowler for their three-person team, and I said, ‘why not?’,” Ginger explained with a laugh.

“Bowling is one those activities we do wherever we go,” Ballard McCleskey said. Their family also includes an older daughter, 21-year-old Cassie, a student at Heartland Community College. As Ballard McCleskey explains it, “If we’re with family out-of-state, or wherever, we just might say, ‘why not go bowling?’”

Why not? At Ginger’s age, she said, she has one friend who gives his friends something he calls “cool points,” an informal status symbol for things people do or for what they know. Ginger said her bowling with her family earned her some cool points from her friend.

The McCleskeys are a two-income family, with wife and mother Sylina working for Sam’s Club and keeping working hours that are separate from her husband’s, at times. For her part, Ginger is very much aware that family time is at a premium. “With how hectic our family is, we never get to see each other,” Ginger said. “We’ve got to be able to spend time with each other.” It appears bowling helps lessen that separation for these folks, too – at least for a couple hours once a week.

And Ginger admits, “I feel like a different person when I’m bowling with my family.” She said bowling gives her an opportunity to “just be myself” when she’s with her folks.

“We’ve been making it a habit to go out and eat somewhere after bowling,” Ballard McCleskey added. “It’s an evening together.”

Sylina McCleskey said bowling with her husband and daughter helps “break up the week a little” as well as letting her unwind after work. “It’s something to look forward to,” she adds.

“It allows us to spend time together that isn’t stressful, or involving chores,” Sylina McCleskey said.

“I was really excited when it worked out to have both Ginger and Sylina bowl because it’s an activity for us to just show up and have fun,” Ballard McCleskey said, pointing to the minimal effort needed to prepare for such an activity.

Now, I am certain the McCleskeys are not the first, and one can hope, not the last family to bond in this way. But in what is becoming a kind of increasingly “everyone-to-their-separate-inner space” world, seeing the McCleskeys buck that trend – in public, and even for just a few hours – is nice, don’t you agree?