It isn’t easy to get to my father’s hometown. At best you have to fly into Pittsburgh and drive 76 miles east over the Allegheny Range, hoping the roads stay clear as you climb Chickaree Mountain on route 22.
We made the pilgrimage entirely by car for most of my life, an excruciating 12-hour road trip we all looked forward to because it ended in my grandma’s kitchen, where she served us friendly gossip along with apricot cookies, pieroghis, halubki, and walnut roll.
I thought our trips to Colver ended when my Grandma died, but happily, today we’ll be heading that way again.
Thanks to the NFL’s Super Bowl High School Honor Roll Initiative, a whole bunch of Kostelniks will be making their way to my dad’s high school tonight to witness the Golden Ball presentation, which honors the high schools of athletes who played in the Super Bowl. As a member of Vince Lombardi’s Packers, my dad played in both Super Bowl I and II.
We’re excited to visit Central Cambria High School and shake hands with the kind people assembled there. My dad loved his high school experience and returned for reunions as often as he could.
He spoke with great respect about his high school football coach Jim Cook and remained lifelong friends with the coach’s daughter Nancy.
In addition to honoring my dad and the high school that sent him on his way, I’m looking forward to hanging out with our family — his older brother, younger sister and their families, my mom and her sister, my siblings and a whole passel of Kostelnik cousins. We’re all hoping to connect with our Colver relatives, and to make a stop at our Pap’s favorite watering hole, Sisti’s.
The accidental timing of our trip makes it even more special. My Dad’s 76th birthday would have been yesterday and tonight the NFL is airing the first Super Bowl.
We’ll raise our glasses tonight to toast my Dad, the town, the school and the people he loved.