Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Off the Mat"- A Memoir- By Corey Yardley Chapters 1-7

Chapter 1.

I came into this world September 18,1988 at the Mercy Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The pregnancy wasn’t planned, so all of the options of an unplanned birth were thrown on the table. My mom was only 19 years old when she found she was pregnant with me, everyone around her (including herself) knew she wasn’t ready to care for a child. Her parents were furious and she thought God had punished her.

Mom came to the conclusion of keeping me, and she still credits me for helping her get through her most difficult times. My dad supported her, and everyone says he loved me and Mom more than anything in the world.

Even though I was a huge part of Chad’s life, he didn’t have much of a role in mine. I have no clear memories of him, and my mom raised me by herself.

Of course there are people who feel sorry for Mom and me, but we kept each other happy. There was no need to feel sorry for us because we had each other, and that is all we needed. She could do anything a mom could do, and she could do anything a dad could do, but better.

I bet there are plenty of dads out there who have told their son they are too busy or too tired to play catch with their own son. Mom never did that. We could play catch from after supper until we could barely see the ball. We played baseball from when the snow melted in early March, until the snow began to fall in late November. Although she never played softball or any sport for that matter, (unless you count cheerleading, ha!) Mom could do it all. She would toss the ball around, hit me grounders, she even squatted like a catcher and I would pitch to her. No matter how many bruises to the shin, or how tired she was from work, she ALWAYS had time for me.

After my dad had left us, Mom did a great job bouncing back to reality. She began dating a few years later, and became pregnant again. I was six years old and so excited to have a new brother or sister. Her partner wasn‘t as excited as I was however, and left us when he figured out Mom was pregnant. My brother and best friend was born October 23, 1994, and we became a family of three.

Having two kids and zero support, mom had to go back to school and continue her career that I had disrupted. She worked full time and was studying to become a nurse. This left me with the duty of becoming man of the house. I was in charge of getting my brother up and going for daycare or pre-school. I had a lot of responsibility at a very young age, and I think that is what truly makes me who I am today.

Of course I was always curious about my dad, but I was too content with my life to worry about it. We lived in the small town of Marengo, Iowa- population of 3,000, and mom could only protect me from the truth for so long. I was going to find out sooner or later, and my during my junior year of high school I found out the hard way.


Chapter 2.

My alarm went off at 8:00 AM, and the day started like any other. I had gym class first period so I wasn’t too worried about showering and I slapped the snooze button for 5 more minutes of well-needed sleep. I changed my clothes, ate my breakfast while watching my Sports Center, and headed off for school.

The day couldn’t have been much more typical considering I started it with a rousing game of dodge ball. After P.E. was over we usually had a few minutes to spare before our second period of class. We would always wait outside of the gymnasium by the trophy case.

The plaque that honored my dad was in that same trophy case and never failed to catch my attention. I must have walked past it hundreds of thousands of times, yet I never have read the gold lettering engraved on that plaque. All I looked at was the photo of him jumping in the air with both index fingers pointing to the sky in his Iowa Valley wrestling singlet. He had just won his 2nd state wrestling championship, and it was in a state that worships their wrestlers. He was a legend in my school, and it was always weird for me to think he was MY dad.

The bell rang at 9:12 A.M. and my second hour criminal justice class was due. Little did I know this typical day at Iowa Valley High School, would soon change my life forever.


Chapter 3

My favorite part of high school were the three minutes the students had in the hallways between each class. I made the little of our free time count as I would get countless smiles from girls, and endless high fives from my boys. My famous entrance occurred at 9:15 AM as I slipped through the doorway during the ringing of the “tardy bell”.

I was hot as hell from gym class, and our criminal justice teacher had the heat cranked full-bore. I took my sweatshirt off not only because I was hot, but because it was lecture day and I needed a pillow. After taking attendance his high-pitched, nasaly voice introduced us with today’s lecture: Self defense.

I buried my head into my pillow and began to day dream for the first half of class. His lectures were always the same, he would begin by reading the important notes straight out of our textbook, then end with a personal story until the end of class. I was awake for the second half of most his lectures, but this story jerked my head from beneath my sweatshirt.

I tuned into his nasaly voice as he began his story.

“I can give you a perfect example of self-defense and it happened right around this area, I even taught this student for a few years, many of you may know him.” I looked into his beady little eyes as he continued. His face was comparable to a rat, and he always wore sweaters even though his classroom felt like a sauna.

“This boy and a group of his buddies had been bullying this kid at school throughout the entire day.” “He was really picking on the kid, and his posse always had his back.” I could kind of tell Mr. Rat-face had been in this kids situation before.

“They were your typical jocks in high school, and they just bullied him all day long.” He continued to build up the story as I looked at the clock and noticed we had 10 minutes left. Noting the amount of time we had left, I figured this was going to be a good one so I continued to listen in.

“These guys wouldn’t leave the poor kid alone, and followed him to his trailer-home once school was over with. The leader of the posse was a well-known fighter, and the kid was scared for his life, so he waited at his front door with a shotgun.” Mr. Rat looked down at his feet, took in a deep breath, and continued on with his story.

“The bully stepped out of the driver’s seat and BAM! He was shot dead right there. The kid’s life was threatened and protected his life, he got off on self-defense.” He looked up at the class and then looked directly at me.

“You guys have heard this story, right?” “I mean, I’m sure you all know who this is about?” he asked.

I had no idea as I scanned my peers, thinking maybe they had some knowledge to this story. They looked just as dumbfounded as I was.

I heard him say the name, “Chad Dietze” and immediately I became frozen and my heart began to beat out of my chest. Chad Dietze was my dad, and even though I didn’t know much about him, I was never told he was such a bad guy.

Mr. Rat-face knew he made a mistake and muttered “I’m sorry” under his breath and left the podium for his desk in the back of the class room. There was five minutes left of class time and I was in complete shock. No one said a word and we sat there in awkward silence until the bell finally rung.
Chapter 4.

My day derailed after 2nd period. I had too much going through my head to be giving my ritual high fives and boyish smiles. I didn’t know much about my dad, but no one had ever told me anything negative. Then again, why would they tell me he was a “bad guy”? I was his son, no one would want me to think he was a villain.

I tried to remain calm and treat this like any other day, so I sat in homeroom in a complete daze, ignoring every announcement that blared from the speaker phone. Conveniently 3rd period chemistry was in my homeroom, and on any other day I’d roam the halls for a few minutes before returning to my desk, but today I didn’t move out of that desk. I don’t even think I blinked.

I am usually very happy which is a great quality, but when something is bothering me, people know instantly that there is something very wrong going on. Even our teacher looked at me funny and I knew right then and there I needed to see the counselor. He didn’t think twice to my request and wrote me the pass to see Mr. Samuelson, the guidance counselor.

All of the kids loved Mr. Sam. It was impossible not to, he was like a teddy bear and Santa Clause all wrapped in one. He welcomed me into his office with open arms, but at the same time he seemed surprised to see me. He asked me what was up and how he could help me.

I explained the entire story as the tears rolled down my face, and bubbles of snot shot out of my nostrils. He tried comforting me, but I could tell this wasn’t even a typical day in the life of a guidance counselor. I sat there hunched over with my elbows on my knees and my hands covering my eyes. I tried keeping everything in for so long, and once I started my story I was a hysterical wreck until I finished it. He asked to call my mom in to settle things over, and I nodded my head yes and remained in that same position as he was calling.

I peeled my teary eyes from the palms of my hands and saw the only person I wanted to see at that very moment: Mom. She was sporting her usual Monday-Friday attire, wearing her nursing scrubs and white Nikes. Our eyes met and she was in Superwoman mode, ready to save the day.


Chapter 5.

All of those years that I avoided the subject of my dad came down to this. I was kicking myself for never stepping up and knowing the real truth about my dad, because I always had the opportunity. It was only a matter of time until some idiot opened their mouth and spread a gossipy story about my dads death, and I didn’t know enough about the subject to stand up for him.

Mom rubbed my back and calmly asked what was wrong. I sputtered out the story as I helplessly tried fighting the tears. When I was finished she told me exactly what I wanted to hear.

“Your dad was not a bad guy and he was definitely not a bully.” Her opening statement already made me feel better.

“Sure him and his friends were a little rowdy but they weren’t out there to kill anybody.” “It was a different time back then, fighting his how things were settled.” I wiped my eyes and blew my nose when the telephone started to ring. It was the principal and he wanted to meet with Mom, me, and Mr. Rat.

We walked through the halls not saying a word, I was still a little nervous. I just wanted to go home. Mr. Rat started by immediately saying sorry over, and over, and over again. “I’m sorry I brought it up I never should have. Bringing up your dad in class was wrong and I never should have done it.” “I will apologize in front of the class tomorrow.” This is not what I wanted to hear so I fired back at him.

“It isn’t that you talked about my dad in front of the class, that isn’t the problem. I don’t want you to apologize for bringing him up, I want you to apologize for lying. I want you to apologize for spreading things that aren’t true about my dad who can’t even defend himself because he is dead!

He nodded his head as if he understood me, but the next day he didn’t clear things up with the class. Mr. Rat apologized solely for bringing up the subject of my dad, not for lying and spreading gossip. I never confronted him and I just sat there. I wanted to jump right out of my desk and punch his little rat face in, but I didn’t.

I did forgive him for a few reasons: 1, I think he was just that stupid and he didn’t mean any harm. 2, Even though situation was a complete disaster, it truly made the subject easier to talk about. I wasn’t afraid to ask Mom things about him once in a while. Excuse my cliché, but I am a firm believer in the quote, “Everything that happens in life, whether it is good or bad, does happen for a reason.”

Chapter 6.
None of this ever would have happened if I would have known more.  The only thing I really knew about my dad when I was growing up was how great of a wrestler he was.  I tried wrestling for one year in second grade and didn't have the greatest experience.
I had a natural ability, but I also felt a lot of pressure to wrestle even at a young age.  My mom only took me to wrestling tournaments where they wouldn't keep score for the Kindergarten-2nd grade age group.  I'll never forget the first wrestling tournament I had ever won.
We went to North English with my uncle and cousin for a wrestling tournament, I agreed to wrestle because Mom assured me they wouldn't be keeping score.  I can remember winning my first match, and the referee only raised my hand (in the non-competitive wrestling matches the ref would raise both kids' hands) and I was confused.  After the first match mom confessed her lie to me and told me this tournament actually kept score.  I ended up getting first place and got a trophy.  I realized I loved wrestling, as long as I won.
I gained quite a bit of confidence from winning and Mom signed me up for the annual Dietze Wrestling Tournament in Marengo.
During one of our wrestling practices that week one of my coaches told me to come with him.  We went into another room where I spotted other adults, and my friend Nick.  Not knowing what was going on, one of the adults told me to put Nick in a cradle.  I was kind of confused because Nick wasn't wrestling back, and then someone snapped a picture.  And another, and another.  I was the "poster boy" for the Chad and Tracy Dietze Wrestling Tournament for the Iowa County Newspaper- The Pioneer Republican.  A large picture that portrayed me pinning Nick in a cradle covered most of the page, advertising the tournament.
 My dad was a legendary wrestler for the Iowa Valley Tigers back in the 80's and posted a career record of 96-17.  He was a 3 time state qualifier, and won 2 state championships in wrestling's finest state-Iowa.  He had a brief collegiate wrestling career at Drake, I'm not exactly sure why he quit.
I found an article my mom put in my scrapbook that was printed in the Gazette, November 26, 1987-

"Expectations run high for Bulldog wrestlers", By J.R. Ogden

ONE OF THE youngsters Timmerman is expecting big things from is freshman Chad Dietze, who completed a brilliant prep career at Iowa Valley last February by winning his second Class 1A state crown.  Dietze ended his senior campaign 35-1 and his career at 96-17.  "He is a really fine competitor and Saturday he did a fine job,"  Timmerman said about his starter at 126 pounds. 

Dietze went 2-2 last Saturday beating Marquette's Scott Sheen, 14-4, and Loras' Mark Barstow, 5-2.  He lost to Iowa's two time NCAA Finalist Brad Penrith and Edinboro's Rob Porter, a national qualifier. 

Not only do I look similar to my dad, but I inherited his attitude too, "If he's not thinking about being an all-American, he's not in the right place," Timmerman said.  "But he's got high expectations for himself."

His enormous plaque stands out in Iowa Valley's trophey case, it always caught my eye as I'd walk by. When I think of my dad, I think of the picture of him after he won his second state championship. I think of him hoisting both index fingers directly to the sky, signifying his triumphant championship.  That gold lettering that I said I had never read before was a a poem written in memory of my dad, entitled "Chad".  It was written by his good friend and fellow wrestler, Travis Fiser-

He touched the lives of the people who knew him.
He wasn't the biggest of men, but his heart was as big as a mountain.
He grew up the hard way like most of us.
He was surrounded by love.

Chad was unique and one of a kind.
He strived for perfection and would give his all.
He did this twice and the gold still hangs on his wall.

Wrestling wasn't everything to Chad.
Probably last when compared to the love for his mom and dad.
You can't measure the love he gave.

To Sherry, Tracy, Danny, and Ron
Cause there's Wendy and Corey and the list goes on.
Of course Wendy and Corey , his brand new start,
The two people he loved with all of his heart.
It's unfortunate to have to make a new start, but Chad wouldn't want his family to fall apart

With Chat watching above and guiding them along, there's nothing they won't be able to handle- they're just too strong.
Chad was a friend that would stick by your side.
Through thick or thin, he would find the time.
What do we do now that he is gone?

Of course Chad would say, "Hey buddy, you gotta stay tough and keep pushing on!"
Chad will always be missed and always be thought of while
    he reigns in heaven and looks down from above.

June 24, 1992 by Travis Fiser


     Chapter 7.

If you’ve done the math, I am a 21 years old as I am writing this. Although it has been four years since this confrontation with Mr. Rat, I am finally stepping up and asking more questions about my father.

Maybe I was scared, or maybe I didn't care to know until today. For whatever reason it was; I now feel ready to know my Dad; Chad Dietze: The unknown half of my own blood and flesh.
Last weekend I finally gained the courage to do something I had never done before: Sit down and talk to someone about my dad. The opportunity has always been there, but I never felt ready. I chose to call Lance Olson; a current U.S. Marshal and old-time friend of my dad's. Ever since I can even remember Lance has always told me, "If you ever need anything you let me know, ya hear?"

The phone rang twice before he picked up and greeted me with a, "Coooorrreeeyyy?" His distinct smart alec voice always makes me laugh to myself. I responded likewise, "Laaaaance?, what are you up to?"

I asked him if he had time to talk, and he told me to meet him at the Marengo Police Station. I have lived in the small town of Marengo my entire life, but I have never arrived with such nervousness. I knew I was going to learn a lot during this little chat, because before today I only knew Chad Dietze more as a wrestler than as a father.

I arrive at the police station a little after lunch. Lance and I chatted with the other officers for about 20 minutes. He knew I didn't want to sip coffee and eat donuts all day, so he asked me to help feed his dogs at his cabin. Stepping into his big truck I knew I was only a few miles from learning a lot about my dad.

The Iowa River looked beautiful, the flowing river water was the only thing that wasn't covered in snow. We walked in the cabin and immediately Lance commanded, "Have a seat, while I feed the dogs."

I scanned the inside of the cabin, it was fairly simple. He wasted no time in asking, "So what do you want to know?" As he unzipped his coat and tore off his gloves.

I began, "I began writing a memoir and suddenly I'm stuck.' 'I was wondering if you could give me a little information about my dad, because other than his wrestling career, I know nothing"
"Well Corey I knew your dad real well. I covered his murder case, and it is very hard to talk about, that's probably why you don't know much. Well your dad was doin' real well. He just started his own concrete business and was bringin' in some good money. He was becoming the father and fiance your mom wanted him to be, too. He and his posse were starting to grow up, and they caused a little less trouble for me and the Marengo force each day. One night, what was he 23?"

I nodded, that seemed about right.

“Rob Collins was the guy who shot the gun, ya know. Your dad, John, and… I can’t really remember the other two. Well as you know John and your dad were the closest of friends. I got those two out of more trouble than you could even believe. Well anyway Rob left the party, and John, your dad, and 2 others went after him. And I don't even know if they were going to kick his ass, or to talk things over, but they had NO intention of killing Rob. It wasn't your dad's idea to go over there, but of course he had to have John's back."

I was chewing frantically on my fingernails, trying to ignore my racing heart beat. I was scared, but ready. This was it.

"They got to the trailer court and began walking towards Collins' place. He was standin' outside his front door with a twelve gauge shotgun. From what I know, the boys tried to settle him down and told him to put the gun down."

Your dad gave up and kept walking toward him and said, "He's not going to shoot anybody. And as you know, Collins shot him with a 12 gauge. Right in the chest."

I took it all in. Of course the police report isn't the only thing I want to know about my dad. Lance even told me to talk to John, and his parents Ron and Sherry, if I wanted some good stories. But I figured this was a good start in figuring out my childhood.

No comments:

Post a Comment