Note: June is always a big month around high schools, though this is still not the typical June. There is graduation and the end of the scholastic sports careers for seniors, plus Father’s Day, which is Sunday.
During previous Junes, Tom Williams has turned over his column to Nicholl and Abbey Fenton, Danielle and Andrew Donoghue, Stephanie Gaitley, Matt Woolley, Jeff Boyd, Allison Rinck, Erik Geisinger, Doug Colman, Allie Moreland, Tracey LeFever, the Degenhardt sisters, Chelsea Bruno, Danielle McNally, Dave & Casey Beyel, the Mensinger brothers, the Donahue sisters, the Impagliazzos, the Baruffis and Shaune McLaughlin, among others, to write about their fathers.
This year, a multi-sport graduate of Ocean City High School – Tori Rolls – does something different. She writes a Father’s Day Salute about her grandfather, Dan Town. Tori, was an all star in soccer, basketball and track at OCHS. She went on to Montclair State University where she was the Women’s Soccer Rookie of the Year in the New Jersey Athletic Conference and a first team all star. Then COVID-19 appeared and she re-thought her situation.
Her grandfather, Dan Town, has been involved in sports in Ocean City and Upper Township for more than 50 years as a player, coach and fan.
By TORI ROLLS RHODES, Guest Columnist
When invited to write a salute about “Pop,” there was no hesitation. It’s almost like I owe it to him. My grandfather, Dan Town (yes, I said grandfather) has been my number one support system since the day I opened my eyes. He held my hand when I took my first steps. He was my first real basketball coach. He was the first person to show me a man’s role. He showed me how to be a respectful person. Ultimately, he is one of the biggest people in my life.
Pop has defined the phrase ‘hard-working’. At the age of 62, he had the opportunity to retire. But he never wanted to put his grandchildren in the position of not having anything. So, at 68, he continues to work five-six days a week to provide for our family. And does not complain as much as he should. I think that describes exactly who he is.
My grandfather attended every single game we played, with a few exceptions. When it came time for
college soccer, he made it certain that all the technology was plugged in and ready to stream my games. After the game, I would wait for his phone calls to tell me something I could have done better. To other people, that would have been draining. But for me, it was something I needed (even though I would never admit it).
When I decided to close that chapter of my life, he was the one person I was afraid to let down. He made me into the athlete that I was and drilled persistence into me – If I started something, he made sure I always finished it. But, I knew the college lifestyle wasn’t for me and I didn’t have to explain why I had those thoughts. He knew the time and energy I put into sports and eventually my time would have been up. But as I stepped into my new role in life, he continued to hold my hand the day I walked down the aisle.
When I think back on all the lessons he has taught me, what I take away the most is his humor. He knows how to put a smile on everyone’s face. He knows when to say the right things to bring excitement back in the room. He knows how to keep me a happy girl. I will always look forward to messing up your hair, listening to old-school music on the way to practice and forever being “your favorite grand-daughter”.
To you Pop – Thank you for pushing my siblings and me to be the best that we can be; for paving the way to a fulfilled life. Without you and Deb, I would not be half the person I am today. The word thank you will never represent how grateful I am for you. But for now, it will have to do!
Happy Father’s Day to my biggest role model!