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Mom's Celebrating More Than Mother's Day

May 7, 2011

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

The topic is mothers, for obvious reasons, and we have a couple gems on hand.

Cindy Priebe and Donna Jones were at Mewborn Field Saturday, in town from California and Wichita, respectively, to see their daughters play softball for Georgia Tech. They weren’t alone. Many players’ parents were there because . . .

A glorious convergence in timing brought together the final weekend of the ACC season, Tech at home for Senior Day against Florida State, and Mother’s Day and another match with the Seminoles today.

Nevermind timing; nothing keeps Priebe away from her daughter, senior first baseman Kristine Priebe.

Every time the Jackets have had a home weekend series (and for a series at Boston College and a tournament in Florida) she’s climbed on a jet in Los Angeles on Friday night to take a red-eye.

She showed up in Atlanta around 6 a.m. Saturday. Hey, she’s a mom.

After the Jackets swept the Seminoles 11-3 and 7-2, she was smiling brightly in left field, taking a break from a massive gathering of players’ families.

“I really love softball, the environment of the game, the culture, the tournaments,” Cindy Priebe said. “All of my kids have played sports, and we’ve encouraged that because it teaches them about teamwork, discipline and how to work hard, make sacrifices.”

Did you read the pride?

There was plenty to go around. Yet after Tech clinched its ACC-record 24th straight conference series, there was at least one bubble in the feel-good line.

Christy Jones, the Yellow Jackets’ senior centerfielder and leadoff hitter, was not altogether thrilled although she was more happy than not. Confused? Read on.

She said, “I haven’t really been looking forward to this weekend because that means it’s our last ACC series here, but . . . it’s awesome that it’s Mother’s Day because I haven’t had a Mother’s Day with [Donna] since high school.”

Tech will be home again next weekend, actually, because the ACC Tournament will be played at Mewborn, Friday through Sunday. The Jones family won’t be in attendance, however, because Christy’s older sister is graduating next weekend from Wichita State, and that will draw Donna and Bruce Jones.

Parents have to make choices, and live with those made by their children. Priebe’s decision to attend the University of Florida, and transfer to Tech, took her a long way from Moorpark, Calif. Cindy and Joe Priebe are more than OK with that.

They’ve seen their daughter continue to grow and not always from afar.

“We support [Kristine] because we see this as her job, and it’s paying for her education,” Cindy said. “That was the means to an end. And for her to be able to go somewhere other than a small college in California it broadens her horizons so she can learn so much more. She’s become a whole person.”

The entire Priebe family, including Kristine’s brother and sister, is in Atlanta this weekend, and the whole gang gathered in the parking lot beyond right field Saturday after the Jackets swept FSU 11-3 and 7-2.

A lot of families were out there, and they were having a grand time.

They’re all veterans of the softball circuit, the parents of daughters following their kids all over their respective regions, and sometimes around the nation, while growing up among the elite in their sport.

You might be surprised how well the families of these players come to know each other considering how far flung their homes are from each other.

The hearts grow warmest, though, when they turn inward to the family.

Donna Jones has missed her daughter while she’s been in college, generally making two road trips per season to see her although this weekend is her third in this, her daughter’s final campaign.

Like Cindy Priebe, though, she’s thrilled with what’s happened to Christy, and not just because the Jackets have won three straight ACC titles.

“She’s still the same person she’s always been because she’s always been a total person,” Mrs. Jones said of her daughter, who just happened to win the Athletic Association’s Total Person award. “But she’s come out of her shell a little bit.

“She’s a little more outgoing. She’s had to speak to groups of people. She worked for a large company last summer.”

We’ll get back to that shell.

It was a great day for the Priebe family to be present in full.

Kristine had three hits and a couple RBI in the sweep.

“I love it when my parents are here. I’m so blessed,” she said. “This is the first time ever [her entire family has been to Atlanta].” Cindy said, “I have all three [kids] here this weekend, which is very nice.”

It was a good day for all seniors. The Jackets’ other two, pitcher Kristen Adkins and Jessica Weaver, factored.

Adkins was the winning pitcher in the first game, moving her record to 20-5. Weaver caught that game, and had a single, walked twice, scored a run and drove in another. There’s more joy to come.

The Jones clan will not be at the ACC tournament, as Cindy Priebe will be, because of that WSU graduation. But if Tech performs as expected next weekend, the Jackets will host an NCAA regional.

Donna Jones said, “We’ll be there wherever it is.”

Christy said that was, “news to me,” but mystery is part of the deal.

Remember that shell her mother said that she’s exited? I had to ask Christy about that. I don’t recall ever seeing a college athlete list in the media guide the ambition of one day being a trophy wife . . . except for Jones.

True story. So Christy, you must have really, really come out of a shell, huh?

“I am kind of a shy person, a little reserved, always following the rules. I’m always the one that’s laid back making sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to do,” she said.

And then she cracked a big Mother’s Day weekend grin, and said, “I think I can still be a trophy wife and follow the rules.”

Mom laughed.

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