Archive for Wednesday, March 22, 2006

North by northeast

Korbs rack up miles to watch daughter play college basketball in Minnesota

March 22, 2006

According to a mapping Web site, the distance between John and Cindy Korb's home in rural Tonganoxie and Carleton College, where their daughter, Andrea, plays basketball in Northfield, Minn., is 433.54 miles.

And, the Web site showed the estimated travel time at six hours, 50 minutes.

Those travel times sometimes add a few minutes, as Korbs said the trip usually takes six hours and 30 minutes.

But 20 minutes isn't much when you consider the amount of time the couple spent on the road during Andrea's basketball career at the NCAA Division III school.

This basketball season, the Korbs made about 10 trips north to watch Andrea play her final season of collegiate basketball.

Embarking on trip after trip in their maroon Chevrolet Impala, the Korbs were prepared each trip: maps, extra winter clothes and a cooler filled with bottled water, pop and snacks for the long trip.

John said they usually stopped in Des Moines for a break because they thought it was roughly the halfway point.

John and Cindy, both teachers in the Tonganoxie school district, spent several weekends during basketball seasons traveling to see Andrea play.

The also traveled to road games, whether it be to other Minnesota destinations, North Dakota, or even Seattle to support Andrea.

And on occasion, Katrina, John and Cindy's older daughter, would meet her parents in Clear Lake, Iowa, and ride with them to Andrea's game. Katrina is a graduate student at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

The good thing about the trip, John and Cindy said, was that it basically is a straight shot on Interstate-35.

Of course, they didn't do much sight-seeing along the way.

"We never ate along I-35," John said. "Usually it was gas up, use the bathroom and get going. That was the main routine."

It's cold up there

At Carleton, it's customary for the girls basketball players to give their fathers their letter jackets. The fathers then wear the letter jackets to games.

But the jackets aren't always the warmest during a frigid Minnesota winter.

"When it's really cold out, zero or below, they're not the warmest," John said with a chuckle.

John noted that he had new appreciation for Kansas weather after making trips during the winter months to destinations throughout Minnesota and another to North Dakota.

"The thing we learned coming back is that we didn't have anything to complain about cold down here," he said.

One winter, the Korbs visited a winter festival in St. Paul, the twin city of Minneapolis, which is north of Northfield.

A large pavilion was built out of large blocks of ice. Various buildings of ice were built throughout the area.

"That year it was so cold," Cindy said.

During a trip to Fargo, N.D., temperatures dipped to 5 below zero.

And, during their trips to Minnesota, the Korbs said temperatures dipped below zero with wind chills measuring 40 below zero.

Pedal to metal

In Kansas, as in many states, speed limits on interstates tend to be 70 mph.

For years, interstate speed limits through Iowa were set at 65 -- until recently.

Iowa now has 70 mph speed limits, which Cindy said was a welcome change when driving up I-35 to Minnesota.

On the trip north on I-29 to North Dakota, Cindy said speed limits were set at 75 through the Dakotas.

"Oh John look, we can legally drive this," Cindy recalled telling her husband on a trip.

During Andrea's sophomore year, John and Cindy drove "on a whim" to attend her last regular-season game. John and Cindy didn't tell Andrea they were going to attend the game. Unfortunately, during the game, Andrea went down with an injury. Doctors later found she tore her ACL. John and Cindy stayed longer than they planned as they stayed for Andrea's surgery.

The couple again were there for Andrea's next game -- in a tournament in Seattle. John and Cindy flew to Washington state to watch their daughter play during Thanksgiving break.

A shining moment

Being Carleton's point guard, Andrea was in a role that usually didn't throw her into the limelight. She wasn't the team's top scorer, but the 2002 Tonganoxie High School graduate was the center of attention during a conference tournament game. Carleton was playing top-seeded St. Benedict in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics Conference semifinals. Andrea's jumper with 6.5 seconds left in overtime helped

Carleton to a 74-73 victory and pushed the Knights to the championship game.

John and Cindy were at that game.

"Boy, that made this trip worth it," Cindy said.

Andrea received e-mails from people on campus congratulating her on the shot, John said.

But after the thrilling game, John and Cindy headed back south to Kansas. They didn't get back until 6 a.m. Monday morning -- just in time to head to school and teach again that morning.

As Cindy said before, though, it was all worth it.

"Every parent wants to see their child enjoy some success," Cindy said. "Andrea's role always was point guard, Not flashy, not scoring a lot, getting the ball to the shooter.

"She's not always gotten a lot of attention. She's always been the floor general."

Cindy said that's what made the winning shot so special.

"She didn't care, she wanted to win," Cindy said. "It was pretty exciting."

Top college

John said Carleton was named one of the top five liberal arts colleges in America. And only a fourth of the students who apply are admitted.

During a St. Olaf-Carleton girls game, the Carleton student section flexed its knowledge muscles.

During the football season, St. Olaf handily defeated Carleton. With that in mind, St. Olaf students started chanting "Let's play football."

Carleton students responded with a "Let's play Scrabble" chant.

John said he had quite a chuckle about the response.

As for St. Olaf fans, they didn't have much to say after that, he said.

"Nothing," John said. "Point made."

End of an era

After Andrea's shot helped Carleton win in the tournament semifinal, the Knights fell in the conference championship and the season -- Andrea's career -- was finished.

Cindy said there would be a certain void next winter when they will no longer be making that trek north for Andrea's games.

But she said, and John agreed, the experience was also about having an extended family of others players and their parents.

"More than I'll miss basketball, I'll miss the community atmosphere of everybody," Cindy said.

John said many retired residents of Northfield also follow the team, even on the road.

"It's not just parents, it really is a community," Korb said.

Andrea plans to graduate with a degree in psychology.

She's also looking at joining Americorps for a year, Cindy said, before deciding whether she wants to stay involved in basketball as a coach, or further her degree.

Americorps is an organization that focuses on national and community service.

Regardless, Cindy said Andrea would like to stay in Minnesota.

If Andrea decides to coach basketball, perhaps her parents again will road trip north to watch Andrea's team compete once again.

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