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NCAA Tournament: Parents of Tennessee's Josh Richardson along for the ride of his life

JENNI CARLSON COMMENTARY — Josh Richardson has had quite the opening week of the NCAA Tournament. The Edmond Santa Fe product has led the Tennessee Volunteers into the Sweet 16 and he’s had his parents by his side at every stop.
by Jenni Carlson Published: March 26, 2014

Josh Richardson had quite the opening week of the NCAA Tournament.

Survived a play-in game. Won two more games. Advanced to the Sweet 16.

Oh, and the Edmond Santa Fe product who’s known more as a defensive stopper at Tennessee also averaged 19.3 points in those three games, including a career-high 26 points in a rout of Mercer on Sunday.

His average heading into the tournament: 9.2 points.

His parents were there for every glorious minute, point and victory.

“We are excited for our son, of course,” Alice Richardson said. “But we are excited for these young men, for this coach, for this program. We are just excited. We have watched through it all. We have seen it all.”

That’s not figurative. Alice and Michael Richardson have attended all but two of the games that their son has played in college. Whether in Knoxville or Starkville, Cincy or Indy, they make the trip. At a time when millions of Americans are hopping on the March Madness bandwagon, the Richardsons have always been along for the ride.

They consider it a blessing that they never could’ve foreseen.

Their son feels the same way.

“It’s nice to have my parents at every game,” Josh said. “It’s a good support thing.”

He knows he’s fortunate. He has plenty of teammates whose parents are able to attend only a few games a year, if that. And because of the distance between Edmond and Knoxville — 869 miles one way — Josh could’ve been one of those who rarely had family at his games.

The first time Alice and Michael made the trip to Tennessee for a few games, they realized how tough it could be. It wasn’t just the hours spent in the car. It was the cost. Their hotel bill ran nearly a thousand dollars.

“We can’t do this,” Michael told Alice. “If we’re going to keep coming down and seeing his games, we can’t do this.”

They realized they could rent an apartment for a month for less than it would cost them to pay for a hotel room for a week.

So, that’s what they decided to do — rent an apartment. They found a realtor in Tennessee, and even though they were in Oklahoma, they could look at properties online or see photos sent via email. They found a place and began splitting time between Knoxville and Edmond.

They had the means and the time to do so because of decisions made long ago.

Alice joined the U.S. Air Force Reserves back in the 1980s. It was about the same time Michael went to work for the Oklahoma City Fire Department. They hadn’t even met each other when they went down those career paths, but now, they are retired from those jobs and free to attend lots of Tennessee basketball games.

“We can’t really take credit for how things worked out,” Alice said. “It truly is God who worked out things for us to be here.”

Even the part-time work they do to supplement their income is able to be done around Josh’s schedule. Alice is an assistant pastor at their church, and while she essentially is on leave during basketball season, she can still do some work remotely. Michael is a contractor who remodels bathrooms and kitchens, but he only takes jobs during the off-season.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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