Round table: How has your mother influenced your career?

Posted: May. 12, 2013 12:08 am Updated: Jun. 23, 2013 12:08 am

Each week, The Herald-Whig sports staff and the WGEM sports staff will debate a pertinent topic. Here is this week's question:

"How has your mother influenced your career the most?"

Matt Schuckman, Sports Editor

Patience is a virtue. How many times did I hear that growing up? It is one of my mom's most-used phrases.

She has a litany of them. Some make you laugh. Some make you think. Some just irritate you. If you take the time to listen, you'll figure out why she says them.

It's to help you gain perspective.

That was lost on me when I was young. I really thought her quotes and idioms were made to annoy me. What I didn't figure out until later in life is that she was teaching me to deal with people and stress and the challenges life presents.

But where did she come up with these clever phrases? My grandpa said many of them. Others came from all the reading she did.

Therein lies one of the most pivotal things my mother instilled in me. That's the passion to read.

Books were prevelant in our house. The newspaper was delivered daily. Time magazine was a staple. Mom read to us every night when we were toddlers and encouraged us to read every night once we learned how.
It's a gift that lasts a lifetime.

Now, each time I write and each time I work something clever I've read into a story or blog post, it's a tribute to my mom, Kathleen. Thanks for making me pick up a book that I never want to put it down.

Blake Toppmeyer, Sports Writer

My mom was an English teacher until she started having kids, when she stepped away from the classroom to take on the hardest job I know: being a full-time mother.

She never took a day off from that job. Heck, she hardly ever stepped working. She had meals to cook, laundry to do, practices to transport her kids — and usually several other parents' kids — to and from and school papers to proof.

She did the grocery shopping, the vacuuming, the cleaning. If you got a hole in your baseball uniform or a rip in the knee of your jeans, it was sewed up by the next day.

Mom's job required constant effort and a strong work ethic. If she didn't feel well, she worked hard anyway. Having a bad day? Work hard anyway.

The only thing she required was the same thing in return from her children. You did your best. Always.

For as long as I can remember, Mom has enjoyed referring to me as "the smartest boy she knows." (Remember, as my mother, she's biased.)

As such, Mom's expectations for me in school were clear: I was capable of attaining excellence in the classroom, so that's what Mom expected. That meant A's. Every class.

She didn't need to remind me of this. I took on Mom's stance at a young age. If I was capable of excellence, I worked hard to attain it. Anything less was unacceptable.

I won't claim to be the best sports journalist there is, but I think any boss I've had would say I work hard in an effort to produce excellent work.

That's what Mom would expect of me. That's what I expect of myself.

Josh Rizzo, Sports Writer

It was a simple gesture. And what she gave me has gone everywhere with me for the last five years.

When I started freelancing for the newspaper around where I went to college, I needed a car. So, my mom gave me hers. Starting with my sophomore year in college, I've put around 80,000 miles on the car.

Even though my car has 158,000 miles on it, I don't want to get rid of it. It's gone from central Pennsylvania to eastern Kansas and all points in between. Not driving it would just feel, strange.

It was always funny because my mom never really liked sports the way I did. Watching sports on the big TV was limited to Pittsburgh teams and the Super Bowl. If it was another sport with a non-local team, we had to find someplace else to watch it.

Newspapers weren't allowed to sit out for too long, because since she cleaned houses for a living, she hated clutter. If ink appeared on the walls around the house, she wasn't too happy either. But when I got to the age where I needed a car to advance my career, she was willing to help.

Without it, I probably wouldn't have advanced very quickly.

Mat Mikesell, Sports Writer

My mother has always been one of my closest allies throughout my life and has always wanted the best from me.

If I've ever needed anything, I know I can call my mother and if she doesn't pick up the phone the first time, she will the second time.

She's always influenced me to push to be better not just as a person, but with my work. From a young age she instilled in me that giving up isn't an option and to put full effort into everything I do.

I still use that piece of advice today with my work. Whether it's digging to find a story, search for an interview or my writing, I put full effort into it without giving up, even if I get discouraged.

My mother has always been supportive of what I've done, even if that means moving away from home. As the first of four children, it scares her to know that her children are starting to grow up and "leave the nest," but she wants what's best for me.

And she's never told me "no" with anything related to my career.

Josh Houchins, WGEM SportsCenter host

The answer is simple when your mom is a teacher. You better love your job if you want to be successful.
My mother, Jeana Rahe Houchins, has been a high school business teacher for longer than I have even been alive. Her influence has been strong, not in telling me to chase a dream or to follow a love of sports, but as a role model on how to be successful in a career.

Trust me when I say my job as a radio show host will never compare to someone being an educator. But just as my mom pours her heart and soul into teaching young people, I like to think I do the same ... just for an older audience that most likely can give just as much grief in return.

The major difference is as kid we could only think to ourselves how our teacher was wrong. You can yell at your radio and tell me I'm wrong. Heck, some have done it in person while crossing the street.

Thanks, Mom. And if you read this — Happy Mother's Day!


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