Schuck's Clipboard

Conversations with 4-year-old are victories all their own

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 24, 2019 12:50 am Updated: Jun. 24, 2019 1:40 am

The buttons on the back of the camera piqued Sam Schnack's interest.

"Can I touch this one?" the 4-year-old asked with his little index finger pointing at the bottom of four buttons.

Sorry, kid, pushing that one would delete something or possibly everything.

Try pushing this one.

"That's my dad!" he exclaimed as a picture of Ryan Schnack popped onto the screen.

We sifted through the rest of photos from the Quincy Tennis Association men's open division championship match. Many were of Ryan Schnack, who went into Sunday's showdown seeking a third straight title. The rest were of his opponent, Ethan Arns, who overcame a badly sprained right ankle just to play.

Somehow, neither the looming history nor sacrifices being made were of consequence to Sam. He just liked looking at the photos, at least for as long as a 4-year-old’s attention span lasts.

Trust me, it isn't very long.

So while Schnack and Arns threw baseline rallies and volleys at each other for better than two hours inside the Quincy Racquet Club, Sam joined me as a spectator and engaged me in endless conversation.

We chatted about going to the dentist, taking naps and how he got the scratch on his ankle. He even took his shoes and socks off to show me the scratch and to warn me it will bleed if you pick at it.

He showed me how he could jump off a step and land with perfect balance. He reminded me not to try a back flip on the stairs because you might get hurt and your mom had already said you couldn't do that. And he told me he liked everything being sold at the concession stand, especially the bags of Goldfish crackers.

There was some tennis talk mixed in there, too. Each time a passerby asked about the score or who was winning and Schnack's name was mentioned, it caught Sam's interest.

"You mean my dad?" he'd ask.

Yes, indeed.

"I see him right there," Sam said, pointing to one of the windows that allowed spectators on the club's concourse level to follow the action.

Everyone had their eyes on Sam's dad and Arns. Their match was memorable. Arns overcame a 5-2 deficit in the first set to win five straight games and the set. Schnack responded with a 6-1 pounding in the second set. The third-set tiebreaker went back and fourth, ending with Schnack winning 10-8 to capture his third straight title.

After a taking a couple minutes to catch their breath and cool down, Schnack and Arns headed upstairs to the overlook area where tournament organizers were presenting trophies.

Sam wasn't interested in that. He grabbed his dad's racquet and a tennis ball and played his own match all alone on the court. He threw the ball in air as if he were serving and chased down every ball hit over the net, which happened to be quite a few

He did that until it was time to pack up and go. That's when Sam finally noticed the crystal trophy in his dad's hands.

"Did you win, Dad?" Sam asked.

He did, and that made Sam smile and skip as they headed for the exit. He was ready to spend some time with his dad, maybe even take a nap together.

Whatever the rest of the day brought, they both should know this: They walked away winners simply for the conversations they were going to have.