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Hurry Up!

Santa Turkey

Man what a weekend!!!  There was nothing cooler than getting to sit in the media box at halftime, and talk about how well our boys played against the #1 team in the country!  But I have to be totally honest, I felt like a complete hypocrite.  What started as color commentary for local high school football, has turned out to be more than I had ever hoped.  Now, I’m sitting here at halftime with the voice of the Skyhawks, Chris Brinkley, and he is asking me what we have to do in the second half to get touchdowns on the scoreboard, and I get to talking.  Why do I feel like a hypocrite???  I never played a down of football, and I grew up in football country.  It is blasphemy to be a male in the state of Texas and never play a down of organized football.  There’s a perfectly good explanation for that.

But I digress…..

I’m at my wits end with all this Christmas crap out already.  We haven’t even finished eating the candy from Halloween, and people are putting their trees up.  I refuse to even go in the attic until the day after Thanksgiving.

I’m still fighting the urge not to eat 14 mini Heath bars at one time, sweating the details on how I’m going to combat the 87 lbs of turkey I’m going to consume in two weeks, and the grocery store has eggnog and boiled custard already.  Really????  REALLY????

Of course the real problem are those delectable Little Debbie Christmas Tree cakes.  I swear, if I see those before November 27th, I’m going to have a come apart.  I’m back on Operation Skinny Hatler, and those things are the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.

But I digress…..

But not really….I got to wondering why are we in such a hurry to move to the next thing, and not enjoy what is right in front of us.  Why are we forcing our children to be All-Star athletes at seven years old, instead of riding bikes, playing checkers, going fishing, playing dress up and going to tea parties?

Why are we living through our children, and not with our children?

God knew what he was doing when he made me the father of two precious girls.  I’d be even worse if I had boys.

This was solidified for me Friday night after Westview High School finished ANOTHER eight win season.   People were so upset after losing in the first round of the TSSAA play-offs to a very good Milan team.  Keep in mind that the Chargers graduated a ton of talent last year, lost some players over the summer, and suffered some injuries late in the year. Coach Coady has averaged eight wins a year during his tenure at Westview….eight….

Despite that, fans, commentators, and parents  want to question everything……EVERYTHING.  Who played, who didn’t, why they schemed Milan this way, how come they called this play, how come he didn’t play that freshman that had such a good junior varsity season.

I’ll answer: Because he’s better, because they thought that was the best way to win, because that is their best play, and that freshman is 14 years old, and that 5′ 11″, 200 lb senior bowling ball running back that he’s going to have to tackle is on the backside of 18.

Eight wins…..EIGHT.

But all that is lost on the outcome of one single game.    Somewhere along the way the enjoyment of the eight wins that got the Chargers to the play-offs was lost.  Lost in the shuffle was seeing those young men get better and better every single week.

The fans were so looking forward to heading to next week’s game, that the joy of the one in front of them slipped by.

I’m scared to death that’s going on in all of our lives right now.   I wish I could spray some growth stunting chemical on both of the girls and keep them right here, the way they are right now.

But I can’t.

If their mother and I don’t watch it, those softball practices, ballet recitals, school, basketball skills camps, and piano practices are going to sneak up on us, and blow right past.  I want to enjoy their growth, help them rebound from their set backs, and celebrate their successes.

Most importantly, I want to enjoy being their daddy…..

I’m crying now, and I need some comfort food.  I wonder if I can find some Christmas Tree cakes.



$ 15K Coffee


I love my wife.  I really do.  We’re as different as night and day, and that works for us.  It is a work in progress, like most marriages are, but we work at it.  When she decides she “needs” something, she’s going to do it.  She runs, bikes, and swims.  I think working your day around physical exertion is time wasted.  I used to run…for punishment.

turkey trot

Every Thanksgiving Day for the past three years, some of the Hatler Grandkids (photo above) have run the Gold’s Gym Turkey Trot 5K in Jackson, Tennessee.  Everyone is just stunned that I don’t “train” or “get ready” for the “race.”  Like every other year, my athletically fat self showed up in 19 degree weather, and ran it a shade under 33 minutes.  I accomplished two of my three goals.  I didn’t come in last and I never stopped running, but I failed to break the 30 minute mark.  I still count it as a successful “race.”

But I digress……

Rewind to January 1, 2013.  Jody (my lovely bride) decides she’s going to be a coffee drinker.  She’s never been one, but we brew a pot, in a coffee maker that has never been used.  Within 48 hours, we have a Keurig, and an endless supply of “K-Cups”, or whatever they’re called.  Now, she can’t get her day started until she has her coffee.  Forget the fact that for (x) years she has been just fine without.  But hey, what the wife wants, the wife wants.  She needs the caffeine because she believes it gets her body going.

But I digress……

One of the biggest surprises after my election to the Weakley County School Board was to find out we actually get paid.  Believe it or not, it is state law that School Board members are to be compensated a minimum of $ 4 per day.  I know….ridiculous.  Being a public servant is about performing your duties for the constituents, free of charge………….or so I thought.

This past Sunday and Monday I was in Nashville attending the Tennessee School Board Association’s new member orientation.   I, along with 109 of my newly elected colleagues, were learning the ins and outs of state law, responsibilities, and legislation in regards to the State’s educational system.  When the discussion about the pay rate surfaced, most of us are laughing about the fact we get paid, and then we start going around the room discussing how much we got.

My jaw hit the floor when a member from a county in the south west corner of the state informs us that they are paid $ 15,000 a year.  Let that sink in for a minute.

Granted, they deal with a larger population than we do in Northwest Tennessee, but $ 15K?????  There are people in Weakley County that have jobs that don’t pay that a year.

Before I could get my jaw back in place, and the rest of the room quit shaking their heads and laughing, we were told that, ” If you think about it, it’s really not that much money.  It doesn’t even pay for my gas going to visit my schools.”

I used to put 25K miles on my car a year driving all over West Tennessee, and my total expenditures on fuel never topped $ 7K.

It was at this point that I realized a couple of things I kind of knew already, but what stuck out to me the most was how we, as a society, have truly decided we should be compensated for everything……EVERYTHING.

I am stunned every time someone asks me how much I get paid to coach my daughters rec league softball teams.  I’m still trying to figure out if I’m stunned because they think I do, or are genuinely shocked when I tell them I don’t.

We need to take a good hard look back at our lives, and the people who helped us out along the way.  We also need to understand that no amount of money will ever repay people and the impact they had.   There are countless numbers of people who have been there to lift us up and help us out….free of charge.  Teachers, mentors, church members, grandparents who weren’t your grandparents, youth league coaches, ballet instructors, parents of friends, the list is endless.

Those people were the caffeine in our developmental coffee, and they didn’t take a dime.

Heck, they didn’t even ask to snuggle.



Where’s the “un-post” button…

Red Sea

I’d like to think I’m a cautious driver.   I’m also the best driver in the lower 48, just ask me.  My wife HATES me sitting in the front seat with her.  I am a terrible passenger…….terrible.  If I’m going to be injured in a car crash, I want it to be with me behind the wheel.  I’d rather be white knuckling the steering wheel than the “OH CRAP” handles.

My Papaw, a guy who was a bit eccentric (in a good way of course), used to tell all us Malray grandkids of driving age the same thing.  He would say, “always watch the driver in front of you, the one beside you, the one behind you, and the one you can’t see.”  That is some of the best advice I have ever received.  Not just for driving, but for life in general.  We really should be watching for out for each other, even the people we can’t see.

You Tennessee readers think I’m about to talk about Amendment 1…….

But I digress….

One of my college buddies used to say that credit card companies were owned by the devil.  He was right.  Within the first two months of starting UT Martin in the fall of 1993, I had three credit cards and $ 2,500 worth of free money.  I put everything on those stupid cards.  VCR’s, Five for Five Roast Beef sandwiches, curly fries, and large Dr. Peppers for 10 people at Arby’s, clothes, CD’s, shoes, Oakley sunglasses, pizzas, you name it.    I even bought half the baseball team snacks in Richmond, Kentucky in 1995.  Sure, they all gave me money to pay for it, but it never made it to Visa.  Little did I know that the bag of Cheetos was going to cost me approximately $ 75, per chip, six years later.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

But I digress……

The evil spawn of credit cards for this generation of college students are cell phones.  Texting, music, pictures, Vines, selfies, Instagram, Twitter, and uploading your Facebook page are all tied back to the cell phone.  You having a bad day?  Pull out your phone and update your Facebook status.  Did your team lose?  Tell us how stupid the manager is and how he needs to be fired, then hashtag it.  Want to introduce a new rap song and video?  Put that sucker on Vine and maybe Jay Z will see it.  Politics….we ALL want to know your views.  Because, after all, your viewpoint is right, and mine is wrong.  More importantly, I’m glad we can instantly talk trash to a politician or athlete  without any reservation or repercussions.

There are no filters anymore…and this from someone who needs one 35% of the time.

In my two stints as the Pike advisor, I saw a rapid decrease in overall decorum via text message.  It was amazing how fast a 19 year old would rip an adult via text message.  The sender of said text message would immediately receive a phone call which was rarely answered.

These smartphones are running the next generation’s lives.

All the proof you need is to drive down University Street and watch the students entering the crosswalk.  Most don’t even look anymore because they are on the phone.  Either texting, or listening to them.

Conflict resolution is a lost art too, and I blame the cell phone.  Teenagers and young adults go from “I Love you” to “I Hate you” in 140 characters or less.   A young girl’s life and reputation can hinge on the send button.

I also wish I could say it was contained to the under 25 crowd, but it isn’t.  Even adults have lost their way when it comes to solving problems via face to face interaction.  Firing off e-mails late on Sunday nights because your feelings are hurt, on-line customer reviews after one bad experience, and heat of the moment posts on Facebook and Twitter, have done more to damage adults reputations and relationships than multiple indiscretions.

A young adult can outlive their mistakes, it gets harder and harder the older we get, to outlive ours.

It has been said a drunk mans words are a sober mans thoughts.  Who would have ever thought social media and your cell phone would be more destructive than alcohol.

Remember that advice my Papaw gave me in the second paragraph?  How cool would it be if we just stopped for a minute and thought about all of the people around us, even the ones we can’t see????  Every time we look down at our phones, whether it be at dinner with our family, or driving down the road.  Every time we decide we’re going to vent on social medial about something that bothered us today.  Every time we hit “send” on a message we probably shouldn’t be sending.

Just stop and think about the unintended consequences.  Who am I hurting?  The loved one in front of me.  My friend beside me. My classmate or co-worker behind me.  Or most importantly, the person I can’t see.

Man, I just made myself feel uncomfortable………………


Changes in Latitude



I’m sorry for the delay in my weekly post.  I was in Nashville for an insurance convention from Sunday until yesterday afternoon.  If the insurance industry wants to dispel the myth that all agents are party animals, they might want to consider removing the Bloody Mary stands in the corners of the convention hall that were serving at 7 am on a Monday.

But I digress…….

Hey, so much for that call to action last week, huh?!??!?!?!  I watched the game finish at 11:40 pm, and the ole Skyhawks picked up a much needed victory!  But I was reminded very quickly just where we rank with the citizens, and employees, of Martin and the University as I sat in a local restaurant for lunch on Friday.  I listened as four people, two of which were UTM graduates/employees talk about how someone shouldn’t be rooting for the University of Texas because “they never even lived there.”  I found that rather interesting because said person is the kind of person I was talking about last week.  That person who never attended school in Knoxville, never applied, never been in Knoxville on a Monday, and didn’t show up to their alma mater’s game the night before.  To be honest, I’ve never even seen them at a UT Martin game.  I’ve just about come to the conclusion that this isn’t a battle worth fighting, and that it takes a higher order of thinking to buy into what I’m selling.

But I digress…..

So you’re sitting there saying, “Dang Hatler, you sure are grouchy today!”  Why yes, yes I am.  After all, today, October 15th, is National Grouch Day.  One thing I can’t stand is when you ask someone, “How’s it going?” and they respond with a sigh, and use some variation of “I’m ok”.  Listen, I get it.  Some days that is all we are is just “ok”, and that is a very appropriate answer.  Sometimes, we just need someone to listen to our story.  However, if that is ALWAYS your response, the reason you are just “ok” might be your crappy attitude.

It’s just like people who can’t let go of something, who ALWAYS try to make their plight the focal point of every……single…… conversation.  That is the height of narcissistic behavior……….and this comes from someone who is so arrogant they write a blog and expect people to read it.

Life is a team sport that requires a positive attitude and an enormous amount of individual effort.

I always loved those shirts we would print in my sporting good’s days that read “There is no “I” in “TEAM”” , and shirts that had a large TEAM and smaller “me” below.   The coach that ordered that shirt for their players, and actually lived it in his/her life, were the ones that were most successful.

A true team fights for the greater good, regardless of the obstacles.  On a team, each individual must give max effort to successfully accomplish their object.  Life is a team sport because it takes a group of highly functioning individuals the entirety of a season to complete their goals.  When one player is not pulling their weight, enduring hardships, or having trouble grasping team concepts, it is the job of the rest of the team to help.

Brandon Gray, the head football coach in Adamsville, Tennessee, was one of those coaches.  He printed thousands of shirts that read “FAMILY”  on the front.  He treats his team like a true family, and he lives it.  This is a guy who turned a basketball town into a football community in 18 months, and has two state championship game appearances to show for it.  He leads by example.

On a team, you must have good leaders.  Good leaders also have one attribute.  At some point in time, they were good followers.  I have rarely met anyone, with any level of success, that was unable to take marching orders.

Good leaders know that everyone has a seat on the bus, and puts them in the best position (seat) to be successful.

Good teammates understand that you try, with all of your ability, to complete the task laid before you, regardless of if you agree with the leaders philosophy or not.

Not being a grouch, and having a good, positive attitude helps us lead a life that is indicative of a true team effort.

Life is a team sport…….never let it be said that, when our game is over, that we ever put “me” above “TEAM”




First off let me say that I cannot thank all of you enough for the kind words, and encouragement, after the first installment of Hatler’s Hiccups.

Second, the Coach’s Poll was released this morning, and there is no way in Hades that Notre Dame is a top 5 team in the country.  Seriously. Just as Alabama has earned the right to be considered for a top 5 spot every  year, until beaten, the Irish have proven over the past 15 years that they DO NOT.  However, Notre Dame being viable is good for college football……

But I digress……..

Saturday was the best day of college football that I can remember. Aside from Katy Perry’s appearance on ESPN’s Gameday, it lived up to the hype.  She is a dingbat who has never even been to a college football game, and she’s the guest pickster?????  Even worse, she shows up in a Vine, shot-gunning a beer and crowd surfing…..stay classy Katy, stay classy….

But I digress…..

Like most folks in the state of Tennessee, I was excited about watching the Vols end their nine year skid against the Florida Gators. The checkerboard of Neyland Stadium was AWESOME! The support of the Vols by Lil Jon, and the renewed energy on Rocky Top is what this state has been waiting for.  They have done so since the unceremonious ouster of Phil Fulmer, and the night in which they donned the black jerseys on Halloween a few years back.

The 10-9 loss was disappointing, but I take comfort in the fact that the Florida Gator’s Program and Tennessee Vols were two ships, passing in the night. They may not have called the penalty as the play clock expired on the go ahead field goal, but Florida’s time in the sun has expired, and that is what is most important.

In regards to my affinity for the Vols, it was fostered by my father.  We didn’t have a TV in the Hatler home until I was 12.  My dad only required us to watch TV on two occasions.  The first of which was when any John Wayne movie was on, and the other was when the Vols graced the tube.  That only happened once a year when they played Alabama.  On those special seasons, we watched them battle the Irish too.
I know you’re asking, “Hatler, this installment is named “Disappointments” so why were you disappointed?”  I’ll tell you why. Take a look at that picture at the top of the post……take a good look. Most of you in Northwest Tennessee will recognize it. The picture was taken last week at Hardy Graham Stadium, at UT Martin,  against OVC foe Southeast Missouri.  Kick off was at 6 pm, and that’s all the folks that were at the game.

What is disappointing is that our stadium should have been 3/4 full. The Vols were in  Georgia that day, and their game had been over for roughly 3 hours before kick off of the Skyhawk game.

Comparatively speaking, the Vols and Skyhawks are pretty much the same programs over the past few years.   Obviously I’m not referring to the talent level, but more along the lines of where they rank amongst their peers.  In fact, I’ll submit that UT Martin has a better program, and on field product, over the past four seasons.

For those that don’t know, the Skyhawks have been a middle to top end program in the OVC since Coach Jason Simpson took over in 2006.  That year, UT Martin won the first OVC title in school history, and first conference title since 1988.  In 2008 we missed a field goal, at home, against Eastern Kentucky to win the crown.  In 2012, a one point defeat in overtime to Tennessee Tech cost us the crown.  Last year, we finished 7-5 and had an outside chance at an at large bid, if not for giving away a game against Tennessee State.  We also should have beaten Memphis, for the second straight season.

This year, just like the Vols, we are struggling. The problem, unlike the Vols, is that our graduates aren’t showing up for our games. Our community members aren’t showing up either……and this has/is not a new problem.

UTM is the # 1 resource in our region. The educational value has been ranked as the second best public university in the state, it is the safest campus in the state, and is the shining star in the UT system……but you wouldn’t know it by the amount of support at our football games.

We can’t get people to a game 10 to 20 miles from their home, for a 3 hour game, at the university from which they graduated…….. but those same folks can make a 350 mile trek to the other side of the  state for three days.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I get rooting for the Vols, and making that trip. In fact, I’d be a hypocrite to suggest I’ve never made it.

But this is what I know….economically we are in dire straits in our area.  The rural vs urban battle, and the state being divided into three distinct sections (West, Middle, and East), Northwest Tennessee is going to be the biggest loser if things don’t change.

The way to win that battle is to rally around our top ranked, state affiliated school.

I’m not asking anyone, mainly UT Martin alums, to abandon their love and support of the Vols.  I didn’t grow up here, and I chose to attend UT Martin for a variety of reasons.  I’ve also come to understand that UT Martin is only in the second generation of having our own identity.

All I’m suggesting is that just a smidgen of that checkerboard enthusiasm be applied to the area where we choose to live, where we choose to work, in the economy that we help maintain, and the university we chose to attend.

We play Tennessee Tech, at home, Thursday night, October 9th at 6:30.

I’ll see you there.

And always remember, IT’S A GREAT DAY TO BE A SKYHAWK!!!

Welcome to “Hatler’s Hiccups”

But I Digress……

Saturday morning, September 12, 2014.

I’m on my way to 101.3 WCMT’s radio program, Coaches Corner.  This is the weekly roundtable with local high school football coaches. I was feeling pretty good about my first attempt at play by play the night before, but you never really know. People are nice, but is that just because they want to be, or are they being sincere?

My Granny, one of the most God fearing, and opinionated, women I know (my mom is the other one), calls to tell me she, “could have done without that comment you made” on the radio the night before. Of course, she did this after she praised me for the outstanding job that I did. Now, I know full well she’s is telling a half-truth, because there’s no way I was as good as she said, but she loves me, and that’s what grandmother’s do….but I digress…

The comment you ask???? I said “snot bubbles”. I said snot bubbles after Coach Gary Capers said that the hit we witnessed was the best we’d seen all night. I thought it was funny, Coach Capers thought it was funny, and apparently my audience liked it too, because my phone absolutely blew up….but I digress….

I received another phone call after Coaches Corner from my mom. She said the same thing Granny did….she didn’t like the fact I said snot bubbles either. She said, “You don’t need to say things like that.” She then proceeded to laud my performance….she was probably lying too, but that’s what loving mothers do for their sons.

So I decided to throw out on my Facebook page that I was “seriously considering” writing a blog. Within two hours, over 47 people “liked” my status, and 13 people commented that I should.!!

As we all know, the number of people that “like” your Facebook status, and even go as so far to comment on it, is how we measure our self-worth.

But I digress…..

After throwing that threat out there, I’ve been dragging my feet getting this set up.  I’ve paid my $ 70, so here goes….. BUT I’m going to lay some ground rules.

Just like my Sunday school class, I tell all visitors and new members the following:

“I drink a beer or 12 every couple of weeks, and have been known to drop the occasional “F-Bomb”. Always understand that I struggle too, and I’m not preaching at you, just know that I’m telling you what the Good Book says. I’ve got my own problems to worry about,  and I’m not interested in telling you yours.”

Now, that’s not entirely accurate. When wronged, I have shown this innate ability to call things like I see them. I have been known to lay it out there for church members, on church property, during church events/services. I’ve argued religion, and the adherence to it, at golf scrambles with a beer in my hand…….Not my finest moments, but I’m not going to be told that alcohol is a sin as you go through two cans of snuff during a four hour scramble for charity.

But I digress……

Back to the ground rules. I’m the smartest person in the room, just ask me. In this endeavor, I’m going to give my opinion, mostly revolving around the world of sports, but no topic is off limits.

If you don’t know the difference between your and you’re, or their, there, and they’re…we’re going to have problems.

If you’re one of the morons who stands at the top of the bleachers during High School games and rips the players and coaches, then blame the officials when your team loses, it’s going to get awfully uncomfortable.

If you run, have a sticker on your car, and talk about it incessantly, I’m going to make fun of you at some point in time. Running makes your feet, especially women’s, look nasty. Then you go and wear open toed shoes…nobody wants to see that.

If you enter through the exit door, and exit through the entrance door at Wal-Mart, you’re not going to enjoy this blog. That is just common decency. If you are so self-centered that you think that’s ok, well, there is just no hope for you.

If you don’t get satire and tongue in cheek jokes, I can’t help you. And, as my friend “Gina” says, “if your sense of humor has been surgically removed”, please don’t waste your time.

I don’t go on and on about my level of my devotion to the Lord. Don’t tell me that you can’t wait to see what God has in store for your life, then get drunk on Saturday night and miss church on Sunday. The least you can do is show up the next day with a hangover.

If you found the previous paragraph amusing, yet accurate, we’re going to get a long great.

I love my family, my friends, golf, the outdoors, Texas, Tennessee, and everything about UT Martin.

I despise selfishness, sour pusses, overt intolerance, fringe political views, and the use of the pronoun “we” when you have no vested interest.

If this thing crashes and burns, I’m ok with that. If the Weakley County Press puts me on retainer, then I can live with that too.

But I paid $ 70 for the first year, so I’m going to use this thing……but I digress………