Time to Settle Accounts
January 2, 2011: A car in every garage, a trophy on every mantle
When TCU coach Gary Patterson lifted the Rose Bowl trophy above his head, he let loose a mighty roar, and I laughed a little, because what is that thing? The Rose Bowl trophy looks a bit like the Lombardi Trophy, but it’s relatively new, updated from its original wood frame, and again in the past decade. Though looks hardly matter – beyond the timeless Stanley Cup and the dignified Oscar, trophy beauty is in the eye of the recipient.
We were watching the game with camp friends, including Dan Lichtenstein, a man who has designed and wood-burned many celebratory plaques, as well as one trophy, that being the Wanegan Bowl trophy, officially the Steven A. Hitchens trophy, awarded each of the past seven autumns to the winning captain of the North Star Wanegan Bowl, a game of speedball played among North Star alum. Speedball is an obscure field sport; it is played with a soccer ball, and combines the skills of soccer and rugby. Legendary counselor Steve “Hitch” Hitchens popularized the game at North Star, so when Dan designed and built the trophy, he bestowed upon it the only appropriate name.
Three of my North Star friends were present, and all three were pulling for Wisconsin. Dan (UW ’97) and Mike Blumberg (UW ’07) are Wisco alum, while our host Marc Siegel is a Big Ten supporter. I do not watch college football, and knew nothing of the Badgers or the Horned Frogs, and as the game rolled on, Dan, Mike, and Marc all lamented Wisconsin’s poor play.
Still, with two minutes remaining, the Badgers had a shot at victory, or at least a tie, when running back Montee Ball cut the TCU lead to 21-19 with a four-yard touchdown run.
“Here we go,” Blumberg announced as the Badgers lined up for the two point conversion.
“Come on guys,” Siegel said, encouraging the Badgers as best he could.
“Run or pass?” I asked the guys.
“Gotta run,” Dan said.
“They’re passing!” Mike said, as quarterback Scott Tolzien dropped back to pass.
“He’s open!” Marc said, as Tolzien eyed a receiver in the endzone.
“Oh jeez,” Dan exclaimed as a TCU defender leapt with perfect timing to bat the ball away.
The three were saying goodbye while the TCU players passed the Rose Bowl trophy from man to man, each taking pleasure in its beauty. Blumberg was meeting his girlfriend at a party in Bucktown, and Dan, who was giving Mike a ride, agreed to drive Carrie and me as well.
When we got to Dan’s car, he opened the trunk and placed an unopened six pack of Leinenkugel inside. Mike gasped: “Is that the Steven A. Hitchens Trophy?” he asked excitedly.
Dan seemed repulsed. “It is.”
“What’s it doing back there?”
“Glickman was supposed to take it after they won, but forgot.”
“Can I have it?” Mike asked.
“Are you serious?” Blumberg asked, because who could believe such luck?
“Yes, take it,” Dan said. “I’m sick of that thing.”
When Dan parked the car at the curb, Mike could hardly wait to skip around to the trunk and secure his trophy. We watched him march victoriously inside as we pulled away.
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