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My Three Sons: Happy Mother's Day to Vina, who always let her boys know they were enough

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Vina loves her boys. Always talked about her boys, usually her three sons but sometimes the players on her husband’s basketball teams.

She would cheer on those teams, even when her boys were little and a road game arrived. On the bus they’d go, and sometimes on the trip back home, Vina would make a bed up in the luggage rack for one of her boys to sleep into the night.

Basketball always was part of the equation. Vina grew up in Roff playing the game, then met her husband at East Central University, where she was a student secretary in the hoops office and her future husband was a graduate assistant for iconic coach Jerry Anderson.

The secretary and the GA eventually married and began a basketball odyssey. Holdenville, Pauls Valley, Poteau, Warner, Stillwater, Tonkawa. Coaching basketball and raising a family all over Oklahoma. Vina went back to college when her youngest son neared school age; she became a teacher herself and taught in Oktaha, Perkins and Tonkawa.

Vina was a good teacher. Her boys still run into people who tell them what an impact Vina had in the classroom. But she taught to help support the family. Teaching wasn’t her passion. She told her future husband all those years ago back in Ada and that all she really wanted to be was a mom.

And so she was, to her three boys, and her husband’s ballplayers, and now she’s a grandmother to five and a virtual grandmother to nieces and nephews whose twin mothers were born 17 years younger than older sister Vina.

That basketball gene was strong. Winning and losing was a prominent discussion around the dinner table, and competitiveness took hold. Be it basketball or board games or card games, everyone in the family wanted to win, Vina as much as anyone.

She was tough — lots of coaches’ wives handle the discipline at home — but also loving.

The middle boy is close with his dad. Played and coached for his dad. But it’s funny. The middle boy, when he talks to his own team these days, finds himself quoting his mother more than his dad.

Tough and loving is a good combination for a mother. It came in handy when tragedy struck and Vina’s youngest son was killed. His brothers say he was the best of the bunch, including the best son, the one who was most attentive and took the best care of their mom.

All these years later, the boys still marvel at how their mom came through it. How she took care of their dad through his grief, while she was grieving herself. How she was determined to never let her surviving sons feel like they weren’t enough to bless her life.

She told her boys multiple times, her prayer was that the two surviving sons never get the impression that they weren’t important anymore.

“Her mindset was, I can’t not make my other two boys not feel important,’” said the middle son.

Vina relied on her faith — Jesus was a big part of that home of the competitive board games — to get her through those dark days. Despite her outward show of strength, her boys knew the grief was taking a toll. Her arthritis kicked up heavily, and her boys still believe it was because of stress. That caused her to retire from teaching soon after, and Vina threw herself into her grandkids, her nieces and nephews, and those two sons she was bound to show were enough.

“What amazes me is the way she dealt with it with as much grace, given as awful as it was,” said the oldest son. “She was determined that it not ruin the rest of our lives. She and dad worked hard that (we) knew they here for us and they loved us. Yeah, it was awful … but she never wanted to make it seem to us that we weren’t enough. I don’t know how they did it. But I’m amazed they could find that strength to do that.”

The best of those sons has been gone 18 years, but Vina always has included him in the conversations at family gatherings, and her grandkids have come to know the uncle they never met.

So on this fine Sunday morning, a tip of the cap to the wife of Mick, the retired coach from Northern Oklahoma Junior College, and the mother of Chad, the OSU associate athletic director; Brett, the boys coach at Madill High School; and Jared, the basketball manager who died too young in the OSU plane crash. Happy Mother’s Day, to Vina Weiberg.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at btramel@oklahoman.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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