It’s January, which means if you blink, basketball season will be over.
Sure, the calendar says there are two more months, but look more closely.
This, of course, is the first of two big tournament weekends in the month.
Next week we will catch our breath and then the following week we’ll do it all over again.
Then it’s another week to catch our breath and - BOOM - Class A and B districts begin.
The larger schools follow the next week and suddenly we’re on the wild roller coaster ride to the end of the season.
It’s over before you know it. The next two months are a grind while they’re happening, but happened in the blink of an eye once they’re over.
But before we get to those playoff weeks, we do have these two glorious and monstrous tournament weeks in January…two of my busiest weeks of the year in what is certainly one of the busiest months with all the basketball games that are taking place.
For my newspaper job in Kingfisher, I cover seven high schools.
Last year, Kingfisher played 14 of its 22 regular season games in January.
Hennessey had 13 and Cashion 12. That’s 78 games of info I need to track down (if I’m not attending) for three schools alone. I also cover Lomega, Dover, Okarche and Crescent, so add their games on top of that.
Oh, and I’ve got wrestling and swimming this time of year.
I’m not complaining. It’s my job. I love it.
But that’s January. It's a basketball month.
So what did I do in January 2017 right smack dab in the middle of all that hectic craziness?
I got married.
That’s right. In between the two weeks of tournament pandemonium, I chose to say “I do” to a very, very lucky woman (shut up).
So how did that work out for me?
Remember ice-pocalypse that was supposed to happen across much of the state last year? Well, the brunt of it, as it turns out, was scheduled to hit on my wedding date, Jan. 14.
So I spent the 10 days prior to then constantly checking the latest weather reports to see where the vaunted freezing line was going to land. Any movement was minimal, but it mostly stayed right over Clinton and White Dog Hill, which was the site of our nuptials.
We knew there was going to be rain. The question was: Would there be ice?
I don’t stress. I didn’t stress about my engagement and didn’t stress about my actual wedding, but I stressed about the freezing line. I had a limited amount of family making the trek to Clinton, several of them old, and I worried for their safety.
A few days before the wedding, my bride-to-be’s florist informed her that her request couldn’t be filled. Days before the wedding. That went over well.
However, I called “my guy” in Kingfisher and he stepped up to the plate with a special order in a limited amount of time. He came through in a big way. Crisis averted.
Well, that one anyway.
Due to both of us having CRAZY work schedules, the Friday before the wedding was basically the only time we would both be able to get together for a wedding license.
No worries. We literally lived a few miles from the closest courthouse.
HOWEVER, due to the impending hell that Mother Nature was promising us, my local courthouse decided on Thursday night to not open on Friday.
Same went for the Blaine County Courthouse in Watonga, our next closest option.
So on Friday morning, a day before our wedding, we’re seemingly left without a place to get a license because the further west you went, the worse the weather got.
But, still, I called.
Custer County in Arapaho was open.
“We are for now anyway,” said the lady.
“Any idea if you’ll be open all day?” I asked, knowing we had a tricky drive ahead of us just to get there.
“We will be here until they tell us we are closing,” was the only answer I got.
But that was our only option, so we loaded up and headed west.
I stopped in Thomas to knock ice off the headlights and called them again, just to make sure I wasn’t wasting my time.
“We still don’t know how long. We have to close when they tell us,” she said, obviously knowing my plight.
When I got to Thomas, my phone rang with an Arapaho number.
“Have you been calling about a marriage license?”
“OK, we just got word. We have to close at noon.”
It was 11:20 a.m.
On a normal day, Thomas to Arapaho in 40 minutes is a breeze.
But this wasn’t normal. Rain was pouring. Roads were getting worse.
But I soldiered on, as fast and as safe as I could.
And we walked into the Custer County Courthouse at 11:54 a.m.
Six minutes to spare.
We returned home with license in hand with no idea if we’d be able to make it back the next day for our wedding.
Mother Nature would decide that, or so we thought.
Julie and I were both awakened early Saturday morning not by the sound of ice hitting the roof, but of her 7-year-old daughter obviously sick. Both ends. Miserable.
We can have the wedding in the rain. We can have the wedding in freezing temperatures. We can even have it with a little ice.
But we can’t have it without Maya (you’ve seen her on our Skordle videos).
While Maya was suffering, the reports were all over the new of several accidents on I-40 between Hinton and - you got it - Clinton, the very route half of our guests would be taking later to the wedding.
So between Maya and the unfit roads, Julie and I were convinced for the second day in a row that our wedding just might not take place.
Maya’s stomach settled down enough for her to fall asleep. Ninety minutes later she woke up a new person.
The temperatures rose to a balmy 34 degrees, wiping the ice off the roads.
We made it to Clinton. Our families made it to Clinton. Our photographer made it to Clinton.
And - finally - we were married.
We took some pictures in the ice and the rain, but that was the worst of it.
Our families made it home and we made it home.
And I spent my honeymoon week at the Buckle of the Wheatbelt Tournament in Kingfisher.
It is January, after all. That’s a basketball month.