June 11, 2014

Editor’s Note: June is always a big month around high schools. There is graduation and the end of the scholastic careers for seniors, plus Father’s Day. During previous Junes, Tom Williams has turned over his column to 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 Donahue sisters, Allison Travers and Shaune McLaughlin, among others, to write about their fathers.
This week, three Ocean City High School graduates – Michael, Brett and Scott Mensinger – write their separate feelings about their father, Craig, the veteran OCHS baseball coach. Michael was on the OCHS surf team and played baseball. He attended St. Joseph’s University and graduated from Stockton. He works in the pharmaceutical business. Brett played soccer & baseball in high school. He is a graduate of Boston College. He lives in New York City and works in finance for Citigroup. Scott played football & baseball at OCHS. He recently received a degree in Criminal Justice. He has worked summers as an Ocean City summer officer. He has been a volunteer firefighter for Marmora for several years and is currently working as an EMT for AtlantiCare.

Guest Columnists

Most of the readers of The Gazette are probably familiar with my dad, knowing him as a teacher and baseball coach. I have also known him in both of those roles but it’s the completely genuine and caring human behind the scenes that I admire most. Honestly, writing this article is incredibly easy because my father really is a great guy and he has accomplished a lot, but more importantly he’s a good guy and to me that’s more important.
My dad is an “old school” hard worker; he’s never afraid to get his hands dirty, goes beyond what is asked of him, works hard the entire day, never complains and views no job as beneath him. Although he wears a shirt and tie to work in his role as an educator I always viewed my dad’s work ethic as very “blue collar.”
A good example of this work ethic is on display if you ever run into my dad at his summer job where he fixes and repairs bikes to be rented on the boardwalk. There you will find him day in and day out realigning bike chains, scrubbing rust off of wheel spokes, and greasing up sprockets. The bike rental business is also attached to a restaurant and this restaurant, like any restaurant, has its “dirty jobs.” Now, by a very wide margin my dad is considered veteran staff at this establishment, having worked there seasonally for nearly 30 years. But even with all his seniority he will still jump right in and do the “dirty jobs”. By most people’s assessment these tasks should be left solely for the new hires, most of who are high school-aged.
Yes that’s right! If you catch my father at the right moment while working his summer job you will witness this fine educator cleaning the restaurant’s public toilets (very thoroughly, I might add) or compacting the restaurant’s dumpster as he gets sprayed with trash juice.
I love that aspect of my dad so much. He’s a real guy, and he doesn’t look down on anybody. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen my dad be disrespectful to anyone. Sure, as a baseball coach he might yell at people or players but it always comes from a constructive place and he genuinely wants to build people up.
When I look at the work my father does as a teacher I am impressed for multiple reasons. I’ve come to understand that teachers do more than just educate. I’ll never forget when my dad told me that his students or athletes often confide in him their personal difficulties and ask him for advice. I asked him “well what do you tell them?” He said “I do my best to let them know that I understand and I try my best to help them” (if it was something very serious he told me he would refer them to the school psychologist or counselor). As his son, this was an interesting revelation for me because it meant that other high school-aged kids, not just myself, felt that my dad was trustworthy and solid enough to use as a sounding board. It made me further realize that I lucked out to have him as my dad.
Lastly, I’ll just say that my brothers and I often tested my dad’s fatherly duties. And as a father he could sometimes be a little strict but he always parented us with the intention of having us be people who knew right from wrong. To me this is one of the most simple but important things you could want to instill in your children and I will speak on behalf of my brothers and say that he did indeed succeed at this. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. –Michael Mensinger

As a child, your father is like no other man in the world. His influence is legendary and his validation is the single most important component of your relationship. He’s capable of all the feats in the world; he’s the strongest, smartest and most successful guy around. With little to benchmark against, this idealistic mantra among children often has an inverse relationship with time as perceptions change and individuals grow. Fortunately for me, after 26 years, those beliefs could not be more steadfast in nature.
As an educator and coach, my father is always bettering those around him - sometimes with intent and other times simply through example. He has a saying when something does not go according to plan, “did you learn your lesson?” It’s this acute self-awareness of one’s actions, regardless of outcome, that has afforded so many around him the opportunity to grow and develop into better individuals.
As I continue in my early adult years, I find myself unconsciously doing and saying things that remind me of my father. I’m perpetually early for everything, have an insatiable hunger for success, and have a work ethic unrivaled by most. Some joke that I’m turning into my father, but only I know that this is just according to plan, all lessons learned.
As an adult with more than enough context, thank you Dad for the wise influence and unwavering validation. Happy Father’s Day! –Brett Mensinger

My dad has always been my role model in life. Yes, that is a bit of a cliché but I am hard pressed to think of a man that has influenced my life more than he has. Ever since I can remember, I was always with my dad trying to do everything he did. Whether it was mowing the lawn or fixing bicycles at his summer job, I was always by his side. I would beg him to take me into work with him almost on a daily basis during the summer just so I could spend an extra few hours with him. During baseball season I was always with him during his practices and games. I would sit in the dugout with him and try and learn as much as I could from him while he coached. I loved every second of it. Even when he was losing a game he always found time to talk to me and explain what was happening.
Growing up people always talk about what they want to be when they grew up, an astronaut or the president, but I just wanted to be my dad. He is the hardest working man I know. No matter what time of year it was, he was always working. That pride in what he did, no matter how small of a task, was a great lesson learned. One of his favorite sayings was, “always give 100% in everything you do and never quit."
As a young adult I have always taken that to heart and applied that to everything I do. I know that without his guidance and dedication to his family that I would not be the man I am today. He was and still is my hero and I thank him every day for all he has done and for all he has taught me. I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day. –Scott Mensinger

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