If you’ve followed this blog, you’ve been introduced to me so it’s only fair, and certainly long overdue, that you learn something about my friend Kevin. Ted Lasso would probably call this an owed ode.
I’ve known Kevin, or Ktown as we call him, for as long as I can remember. Hard not to know someone when you’re from a town like ours. To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of Kevin growing up. We didn’t always see eye to eye.
He was a year older than me in school. I grew up on a farm and rode the bus to school. Kevin grew up in town and rode his bike to school. We competed against each other in sports growing up but I don’t think we were ever on the same team. Different teams, different grades, different circumstances. We didn’t have much in common that would have brought us together.
Kevin has always been a little undersized but he always had friends in his class that were bigger than me and mine. He wasn’t a bully; he’s too small to be a bully still. Although, he did take karate as a kid so don’t mess with him. I’ve learned that lesson a few times after smashing too many post-round beers. But, he definitely wasn’t someone I was going out of my way to hang out with when we were kids. Most of that stemmed from his sheer competitiveness. And mine too. I remember his role in stirring my anger during pick-up basketball games when we were in middle school. He was playing to win. And so was I. That competitiveness caused friction then, and let’s be honest, it still does sometimes…
Darryl (Kevin’s dad): Kevin’s always been a competitor. I remember after his first tee ball game as a kid. Kevin walked up to his grandmother and mother and asked, “Who won the game?” Kevin’s mother answered that they don’t keep score in tee ball games. Kevin dropped his glove and replied, “Why are we playing then?!?” The journey started there… As a side note: Kevin won all of his tee games from that point on according to his grandmother.
We continued to run in different circles all the way into high school. Kevin had a cool car (several actually) and all the perks that came with having a cool car when you’re a high school kid. I spent a lot of time at the ballpark: practicing, playing, getting the fields ready, umpiring. I always knew when Kevin was at the game because you could hear his car coming from a mile away, both the engine and the sound system. Sometimes he rode his crotch-rocket to the games too. He was cool. I like to think I was cool too, just in different ways. Our paths still rarely crossed but were converging in ways I never would have expected.
It all changed my sophomore year. We were both out for basketball and it was the first time I could remember ever being on the same team. Our friend groups merged at that point. Instead of him and his friends vs. me and mine, it was all kind of one big group. Over the next several years, that group hung out regularly, including at Kevin’s basement. That was his domain. I got to know his parents, Connie and Darryl, who were so nice, even when the herd of hungry teenage boys in their basement were getting a little too rowdy. We got into all kinds of adventures, most of which I can’t write about here. It never failed that at some point in whatever we were doing, Kevin was going to pull out his tiny-little ass and moon someone. It was a regular occurrence…
Bryan (Kevin’s friend from Medicine Lodge): One of the funniest things I remember was in high school when you morons put Red Bull or some other energy drink in your water bottles before a JV basketball game. You guys smashed it before warmups even started so you were fully amped. When it was Ktown’s turn for the layup line, he took off on a full sprint toward the basket. It was like he was an Olympic sprinter. He jumped with full force and then LAUNCHED the ball so hard off the backboard that it went past half court. I knew what was going on and laughed so hard I was crying but the coach was just looking at him like, “What the hell was that?!?” Still cracks me up.
Kevin went off to college while I still had a year of high school. I went and played baseball at junior college after that but we still hung out over breaks when we were both back home. By the time I made it to Manhattan, Kevin had already been there three years. He had a whole new group of friends that he’d made over those years and he brought me into that circle. He was in a band (like I said, he was/is cool). I wasn’t twenty-one at that point but it didn’t matter. If the band was playing, he’d let me tag along. The bouncers didn’t check IDs of the people with the band. By that point, music pretty much became the common connection between Kevin and I. We still competed, even with music. Kevin is, and remains, much better at playing the guitar than I am, but I still contend that I’m the better vocalist. He will never convince me otherwise.
We hung out all the time; playing music, or video games, or going to some party. There was never a dull moment. Kevin was, and is, always down for a good time. I would have never met my wife if it wasn’t for Kevin and that entire group of friends. I don’t remember all of the parties, every one of their concerts, or every night in Aggieville; that’s what happens when you start to get older. But, writing this has been a good reminder of just how much impact my friendship with Kevin has had on my life.
Dustin (Kevin’s friend from Minneapolis): My favorite thing about Kevin is he’s always down for more. Doesn’t matter what it is: golf, partying, talking about life, stars, or aliens. Whatever it may be, he’s down. And, he’s always in that moment. Also, one time he got kissed by a homeless dude.
We grew up, at least a little bit, while in Manhattan. Kevin started dating a wonderful girl named Maddi. He got a real job. Not a job like I had in college. He’s always been a step ahead of me. I saw my friend transform from the kid that I knew mooning people on the playground into a man. When Kevin and Maddi were married in 2011, it was an honor that he asked me to be his best man. I know that he did it partly out of pity because he knew how jealous I’d be if he’d have asked anyone else. I can’t turn that competitiveness off the same way that he can’t. It was important to me because he is important to me.
I reached out to people close to Kevin to help me with this. Certainly appreciate their stories to help paint the full picture of who Kevin is. But, there is one contributor notably missing. There is zero doubt in my mind that I have been replaced as Kevin’s best man at this point in our lives. I think that title belongs to: Walter the Maltipoo. Hearing Kevin and Maddi talk about Walt while sitting on the beach in Mexico was the main selling point for my wife and I getting a dog shortly after we got back home. I wanted that feeling that Kevin and Maddi were talking about. Kevin and Walt are essentially inseparable and there is nothing that Kevin wouldn’t do for Walt. I don’t know if I fall into that category. Walter is Kevin’s true best friend. It only hurts a little writing that…
Maddi (Kevin’s wife): When I sat down to write a short note about Kevin, I had planned to focus on our best experiences so I started scrolling through pictures to decide if I wanted to talk about skiing, trips to the beach, or hikes in the mountains. However, as I was scrolling through my phone, I realized the photos that brought the biggest smile to my face were the photos of him with Walter. Kevin and I have amazing memories together, but I’m happiest in the little moments of watching his immense love for our Walt man. Their bond is unmatched and oftentimes I wonder if I’m the third wheel in this relationship. 😉 I find myself chuckling everyday hearing Walter’s footsteps always inches behind Kevin’s, I laugh out loud when Walter is sitting outside the bathroom because Kevin kicked him out, and I secretly always peek onto the patio to see them snuggling together late at night. A memory I will never forget is Kevin carrying Walter over six miles down a mountain a few summers ago because he was convinced he had altitude sickness and he would rather collapse than let Walter be out of breath. For the past nine years, Walt has been involved in every trip and memory we’ve made with one exception – Walt isn’t allowed on the golf course due to his obsession with golf balls (sound familiar?) so I’d be remiss not to share the side of Kevin that his golf community doesn’t get to witness. His love for Walt is a sight to see, and their connection brings me joy every day. They are two peas in a pod, and I’m just grateful Walt isn’t allowed to golf or I’d never see either of them.
It was around the end of our time in Manhattan that we started playing golf. It was a dabble at first. Something that we could do in the afternoon as an excuse to start drinking early that day. We weren’t any good and were playing with hand-me-down clubs. But we were at the same level of suck so it was competitive, almost like it was back in the day on the middle school basketball courts. It seemed more and more like golf became our outlet to hangout, catch-up, and compete, like we used to.
As we’ve gotten older, we’ve gotten better at golf at about the same rate. Some rounds, he’s better than me. Other rounds, I’m better than him. It’s that competition between us that has driven us to play more and get better. As we started to play more, we realized that there is a need for golfers out there like us, which is how we put our heads together to build the Middle Pin.
I’m proud of what we’ve built and where it’s headed. We recognized this need and jumped in, knowing that we could do it and do it better than anyone else. I know that because there is one thing that makes the Middle Pin different: Kevin. He’s always been technologically gifted and entrepreneurial minded, but he’s a brilliant problem solver and I can say that none of this would have happened without him. He’s made the Middle Pin what it is. He’s as talented, smart, fun-loving, and driven, as anyone I’ve ever met. The idea of the Middle Pin was solid, but it needed someone with Kevin’s vision and talent to make it work. His expertise is invaluable and is what sets us apart. Like our days back in Manhattan, I’m happy that he’s let me tag along.
Jason (Kevin’s friend from Minneapolis): Couple words come to mind when I think about Ktown, like commitment and loyalty. I appreciate him because he always strives to better himself and everyone around him. He manifests his own destiny; wills things into existence because he cares so deeply. He would give you the shirt off his back, which would be great if it wasn’t so tiny.
I owe a lot of the joy and happiness in my life, from my wife and kids, my friends, my dog, my taste in music, my love of this game, this business venture, to my friendship with Kevin. I can’t ever repay him but I hope he knows how truly grateful I am for all those things he’s inadvertently done for me along the way. I’m never going to be able to thank him enough for all that fulfillment he’s brought to my life. I’ll always be indebted to him for his friendship. That being said, he’s still not getting any strokes from me the next time we play…
Certainly long overdue to fill everyone in on the side of tMP that we haven’t told yet. Appreciate the help from his family and friends for sharing their stories about Kevin too. We all hope he has a wonderful birthday!
Until Next Time,