Winning for Kayden

“All Day.

Every Day.

No Sleep.


– Kayden D. Williams

I love basketball.

Not college basketball or pro-basketball.

High school basketball.

There is something about the passion the players exude on the court.

The sound of basketball shoes squeaking on the court.

The sound of the basketball hitting the backboard before swishing through the white net.

But on Saturday night, in Elyria, Ohio, there was something more.

Something almost … magical.

That night, two rivals came together to honor one family whose connection to both communities was as strong as the bond shared between siblings.

It was one of love and hate.

The love was for Kayden Williams, and his family.

The hate, well it wasn’t really hate. It was more of a passion burning inside both teams to get the “W” for Kayden.

You see, he and his older brother, KJ, were Wildcats.

His sisters – Pioneers.

Kayden was a Wildcat when he passed away on Dec. 27 from injuries sustained in a single motor vehicle accident on a country road.  KJ graduated from Keystone several years ago.

The Williams family now has two daughters left in high school – and they are both Pioneers through and through.

But on Saturday night, both teams came together to honor Kayden and what he stood for – high school sports – leaving it all on the field/court – and an unwavering dedication to both.

As the game started, the Elyria varsity team ran onto the court wearing a T-shirt remembering Kayden. Moments later, the Keystone varsity basketball team did the same. For several minutes, the two teams just seemed to blend together.

The rivalry paused as the crowd gave a moment of silence for Kayden.

Then, it was game time.

To say both teams gave it 110 percent is an understatement.

It’s as if Kayden was fueling both teams on the court.

But, in the last seconds, it was Brody Kuhl’s three-point shot that gave Keystone the edge they needed to win.

And then, the unthinkable happened. Keystone fans ran onto the court before the game officially ended.

A technical foul was called on Keystone for charging the floor.

Yet, a small miracle happened at the same time. Just as Keystone was charged with a technical foul, the referee determined that Brody had been fouled during his three-point shot.

He was going to the free-throw line.

And he scored.

Elyria also had the opportunity to score due to Keystone’s technical foul, but in the end, the player only made one shot.

The night belonged to Keystone.

It also belonged to the Williams family.

To see Kayden’s brother, KJ jump up and down, cheering for his alma mater was a sight I will never forget.

To watch players run over to the Williams family after the game ended, embracing parents, Sarah and Keenan – I was filled with such pride to be a Keystone Wildcat.

Then, finally to witness Coach Jeff Holzhauer walk over to KJ, saying, “I told ya didn’t I?”

It wasn’t just a win for Keystone Saturday night.

It was a win for the Williams family because I am pretty sure Kayden was whooping and hollering from the heavens just as his family was down on Earth.

Somehow, I think it was his way of letting his family know that he was just fine.

And that in time, they will be too.




Dealing with a ‘bully’ MY way

Her name was Dawn. She had ash-blonde hair. She was several years older than I was and she sat behind me on Bus 5.

For months, she would pull my hair. I would turn around and yell at her – the best I could considering we were riding the bus.

She didn’t stop.

I would go home, crying – and then hide from my dad as soon as I walked into the house.

I was only in kindergarten.

Finally, one day, she pulled on my hair a bit too hard. I had enough. It was time to react.

For the first time in my young life – remember, I was only maybe 5 years old – I stood up for myself. I wasn’t going let her ruin my life.

I felt her fingers touch my hair, quickly grabbing her arm, I clawed her – hard. I drew blood.

She cried. I went home – less than a block from her own house – and yelled for my dad. I told him what I had done. I was waiting for him to punish me. But, I also told him how every day she would pull my hair and how on that particular day, I used my nails to scratch her.

He heard enough.

Taking my hand, he marched up to her front door. She answered.
“Is your mom or dad home?” he asked in his “teacher voice.”

“What’s the problem?” the man asked my dad.

“Dawn here has been pulling on Melissa’s hair when riding the bus. This better stop NOW!” he said looking straight into her eyes.

“Dawn …” the father said.

And then turning to my dad, her father apologized and then forced Dawn to do the same.

The girl never touched me again.

Today, we live in a society where we are almost afraid to stick up for ourselves. We are too afraid of what might happen. We are too afraid that we may hurt someone else’s feelings. We are constantly being politically correct.

It’s exhausting and complete bullshit.

Sticking up for myself at the age of 5 has stuck with me for the past 34 years. I have not, nor will I ever, allow for someone to hurt me the way Dawn did all those years ago. Sure, she was “only pulling on my hair” but what if I never told my dad what was happening on the bus? What if I continued to let it happen over and over again?

Being a parent in the 2000s is very different from the 1980s, but sadly, people really haven’t changed. And I refuse to let my kids suffer in silence. We, as parents, are their voice. It’s time to be heard and not silenced.

“School mom” leaves a hole in our lives

Sending our children off to school can sometimes be a scary, if not uneasy, feeling.

Random, and sometimes terrifying thoughts jumble my mind as I watch the twins board the bus every morning.

*Did they grab their lunches?

*Why was George so sad this morning?

*How is KK doing in class?

*Are they both eating all of their lunch, or did I make another non-eaten lunch this morning?

When I can sense that something isn’t right in the morning, all it takes is me sending a quick text or making a phone call to Mrs. Minney, aka “School Mom.”

“George had tears in his eyes before school today. Can you check on him today?”

“George said he is shaking at school … can you see if he is eating all of his lunch?

“KK was worried about her brother being home sick. Can you please tell her he is OK and will be in school tomorrow?”

These are the conversations that are uploaded into my phone and sent through phone-space to the person who is another “constant” in their lives – Mrs. Minney.

I still don’t technically know her “real” work title at the elementary school – para-professional? Aide? To me, she is simply “School Mom.” She is crazy, awesome and loving rolled into one person.

For all of those times when I am not there to make sure they eat their sandwich; to offer support and a small “You did GREAT;” or to see if they are really sick, I know she is there.

Her heart is worn on her sleeve (much like the snowflake tattoo that reminds her of her father). Even if she is having a bad day, she never has shown any ill-will toward students.

Under her watchful, yet loving motherly eye, she makes sure the students behave in the cafeteria, hallways and classrooms.

She doesn’t raise her voice, but is firm with those students who do not listen.

She doesn’t judge. She adores every single student who walks through the elementary doors.

The beauty of Mrs. Minney is that she isn’t just looking out for the well-being of my kiddos. No, she looks out for every single student and person in the district. There isn’t a staff member, teacher, administrator or custodian she hasn’t touched with her heart.

And today, Mrs. Minney walked through the doors as a para-professional-aide-school-mom one last time.

She is leaving her home-away-from home after accepting a job at title company.

Sure, she will still make an appearance here and there at the schools – after all, her two daughters are still students (she can’t get rid of us that easily).

But that leaves a hole in my life; and in my children’s lives.

Mrs. Minney has left the building.

I am now left with the uneasy, scary feeling of who will be there for my kiddos (outside of their teachers). Who is going to be my person now? Who is going to let me know my kids are OK? And most importantly, who is going to fill her shoes of “School Mom” when I cannot be there?





Sorry, PTA: I’m not sorry.

I believe in telling the truth and being honest. It’s two of those morals that were instilled in me by my parents.

And since then, I have sucked at lying and I am brutally honest.

Take it or leave it. I don’t care.

So, yes, the “PTA Replicating Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi” is on-going here in my children’s school district.

And true, I was not at the now infamous “Teacher Reveal” night; however, a reporter by nature, I made sure my facts were straight before I unleashed the hound known as my blog.

Last week, I “broke the news” that the local PTA turned away at least three, if not more, families, during their super-secret “teacher reveal night.”

Basically, it went like this (no sugar coating) …

You give $5 (to the PTA to be a member) and you get to see who your child’s teacher will be for the 2016-2017 school year a mere 10 hours before everyone else.

Read the sentence again.

Teacher reveal only. For a $5 membership fee.

No $5, no teacher name for you.

Class lists were kept under lock and key (unless you were privy enough to get those super, super secret details – probably for an extra $5).

Anyways, I expressed my opinion on the “membership drive” and caught hell for it from all PTA lovers-alike. And how, those same PTA-lovers have begun attacking my ethics as a journalist.

So sorry, I’m not going to sit on the bench and watch your “clique” bombard me.

Yes, I am the most hated person in our teeny-tiny town. That’s cool — hate away.

So, those who hate me don’t necessarily hate me for me. They hate me because I expressed my opinion in a public format.

And now, they want me to apologize.

Here I go:

“I’m sorry I’m not sorry. I’m sorry that I shared with the public and social media how I felt. I’m sorry that you feel I single-handedly destroyed your reputation. I’m sorry that I am not one of you. I’m sorry that I find other ways to volunteer at the school that you deem unworthy (like signing up for bringing extra snacks and goodies for students and flowers for teachers and volunteers at the end of the year). I’m sorry that I am not you. I gave up trying to be in a clique about 20 years ago. But that does not mean I don’t love our school district any less … I just have a different way of showing it … and I’m sorry we don’t agree.”

There, there is my public apology that you thought you were owed.

Melissa Linebrink is an award-winning blogger and reporter for The Chronicle-Telegram. Read her blog at Follow her on Twitter @train_crazy or Facebook at




PTA is like Seinfeld’s ‘Soup Nazi’

Dear PTA,

I’m all for bribery. It is how shit gets done in my house.

You want a friend over? Sure, go clean your room.

You want ice cream? Sure, go put your clothes away.

You want a snack before bed? Sure, eat your dinner.

It is simply how the world works. I get it.

But, when you attempt to bribe parents into joining the PTA with this Facebook post:

“Psssssst … PTA was granted EARLY ACCESS to the teacher list!!!!!

Come and join … sign up for the 2016/17 school year PTA membership and get an EXCLUSIVE, early preview of your child’s teacher and an icy, cold popsicle to beat the heat. Membership is only $5.”

… I can’t help but wonder … what is wrong with these people?


So, fine, I get it … it’s a membership drive. Great. Clearly new members are needed.

But what about those three (at least) parents who showed up tonight to only be turned away because they didn’t have the $5 lousy fee. One of them was apparently a new father to the district. His child was eager to see who his teacher would be and who would be in his class.

He actually was asked to leave the area.



My God. When did the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld take over the PTA?

I’m not sure, but as one mom put it:

“I’m pissed. They were acting like it was top secret info. Big fucking deal. They told me to check tomorrow. Well I won’t be helping them anymore. I think it’s a douche move on their part.”

And there you have it …

In a nutshell … no one should be turned away from the PTA – or as it stands now, perhaps, “Parents To Avoid?”


A Long-Ago Member







A ‘trip’ on ‘vacation’ — assho!es a-plenty


Sometimes, as adults, there is a need to escape the everyday norm. It could be a long-weekend spent together while the kiddos visit the grandparents. Or, it can be a vacation – away from it all.

A friend of ours phrased it well, even though you may disagree. He said, “A vacation is MINUS the kids, a TRIP is with the kids.”

Either way, we left Ohio and our beloved children for six days and flew to Cancun, Mexico.

Even the drive on the way to the airport was pure bliss. Thirty-minutes of adult conversation. We never heard “I’m bored” or “She’s touching me!” being screamed from the backseat every 10 seconds.

So, there we were … in Cancun, staying at an all-inclusive resort. Adult beverages, nightlife and the most scrumptious meals on the planet Earth were at our fingertips.

Until we realized we weren’t there alone … and I’m not talking about the other ADULTS staying at the resort.

No, I am referring to the spring-breakers. College-aged students living the dream for a week in Cancun, without parents, roommates, professors or classes.

Minus manners too if you asked us.

By the final day, I wanted to wear a hand-made sign declaring, “PICK UP YOUR OWN SHIT” … My friend added: “YOUR MOMMA AIN’T HERE!”

It was classic.

Empty beer and margarita cups littered the tables situated within the pool. We removed them. It wasn’t our job, but it was gross and bothered us. Our husbands told us time and time again, “You can take ladies out of the USA, but you can’t take the moms out of them.” Or something like that.

Inside the sports bar, assholes left half-eaten cheeseburgers, nachos and hotdogs on paper plates when a trashcan was less than 20 feet away.

Where in the world did they leave their manners? Are they like this at home? Are they like this in their college dormitories or apartments?

Those were our thoughts as we walked from table to table removing the assholes’ shit they left behind.

Our vacation continued by watching the near-three fights break out amongst various nationalities, except no one from the United States was acting like an asshole. It was everyone else, shouting out phrases no one understood. My guess, they were calling everyone else assholes for different reasons.

I loved watching people call the hotel manager after someone took their poolside chairs. Now would be an ideal time to note this asshole was like 60 years old complaining. The manager told him, “You can’t save chairs.” He didn’t like that answer. The group he was arguing with kept blowing him kisses – that just pissed him off even more. It was hilarious. It was like the time my brother got in trouble for something I did and I reacted the same way, telling him to “kiss it.”

Add, “Watching Groups of People Argue Over Which Country is THE BEST” is a must on everyone’s “Bucket List.” Clearly the country that did NOT get BANNED from the alcohol at the all-inclusive resort were “better.” But not by much by our standards.

And, let’s not forget the group of 15 guys fighting with five other guys and three girls over the style of music being played over a loudspeaker. Our friends nailed the reason for the fight – the five guys were close to “Closing the deal with the three girls and taking them up to bed after talking to them for five hours when the other guys came over with their bad music.” BUZZ KILL … or … well, some kind of kill.

Upon leaving the resort, I assumed our journey back to the USA would go smooth. What else could go wrong? Oh, you know, our bus driver could run 15 minutes late and then make up time by driving in the middle of the road, cutting every other vehicle off – including bicyclists and motorcyclists. By this time, hands were being laid upon a Bible brought from Ohio. Our lives flashed before our eyes.

After coming to what felt like a screeching halt in the airport parking lot, we staggered out of the bus as if we had just topped of a bottle of tequila. I kinda wish I had because it would have made the next scene “that much more hilarious.”

Again, a group of four ladies were standing in the customs line, while the rest of us were waiting to be X-rayed, poked and prodded when they picked THAT time to … you guessed it, take A SELFIE.

The man behind the ladies spoke up, told them they were basically assholes and to move along because they were holding the line up.

Long story short, Mexican security showed up, but they weren’t as intimidating as I imagined them to be at the border. They just laughed and shook their heads while moving the ladies through security. They wanted those selfie-bitches OUT of Cancun.

Good news … after we made it past customs, we all headed toward the duty-free shop and bought tequila and/or Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum. That made THE VACATION all worth … THE TRIP (WITH COLLEGE-AGED KIDS).



About the author:

Melissa Linebrink is a reporter/bi-monthly columnist for “The Mommy Wars” printed in The Chronicle-Telegram. She has been featured as a blogger on the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Conference site, and Great Moments in Parenting. She also writes, edits and manages her blog, She can be reached at or follow her on Twitter @train_crazy.