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Father's Day - The Kreigers

June 20, 2004|By BOB PARASILITI

To Harold French, having a tight family knows no boundaries.

In fact, the farther his fledgling family travels, the closer it gets.

"We don't even see our house," French said. "We are lucky to sit down to have dinner. Our house is like Motel 6. ... We leave the light on."

French is living the new American dream. In the old days, that was to have a wife and two kids in a home with a white picket fence and two cars. In the 21st century, that's become a wife, four kids - two of his own and two stepchildren - with a home to sleep in and a reliable van/truck in constant motion.

The new model family has parents working and coming home before running in every direction on the compass, taking the kids to various school and extra-curricular activities.

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For the French family, that means sports - and lots of them - to help in the new and exciting experience of two families merging together - French's wife of 2 1/2 years, Cristy, and her two daughters, Ashley and Alyssa Beattie, with Harold and his children, Alisha, who lives with them, and Corey, who lives with his mother.

"We both feel it's important to keep them going and keep them occupied," French said. "It keeps them away from the wrong things. It gives you a chance to grow with your kids in the types of things that will give you a link in the future."

It keeps Harold, Cristy and the family hopping, too. Consider:

-- The four children go to three different school districts. Ashley, 15, and Alyssa, 12, attend Williamsport while Alisha, 13, is a Clear Spring student and Corey, 12, goes to Smithsburg schools.

-- Soccer is the mainstay in the family, with Alyssa and Alisha currently playing in HAYSL while Corey plans to return to the sport in the fall. Ashley plays softball for Williamsport, Alyssa plays Fellowship of Christian Athletes volleyball and Corey participates in band.

-- French chips in with a couple coaching stints to be involved with all the kids.

"On a typical night, I get home before Cristy and I might mow the lawn or cook dinner," French said. "She tries to get home as quickly as she can. Then we start going. I got a crew cab truck that could seat six - I didn't want to be driving a van - so we can all fit. We try to do it all together."

The unity plan is working well for French and his family. With all the efforts, everyone is benefiting from the sports and the togetherness. The common bond has been sports, because if they are not giving the four children a foundation, they are helping to build the family unit.

"I think sports helps build self-esteem, an ability to react to different attitudes and to help them plan for what's ahead," French said. "It shows them how to be motivated and to have the desire to be a winner and succeed. To them, though, it's a chance to have fun and there's no homework."

French was a coach for Corey's soccer team until his son elected to stop playing. He had planned to sit and watch until Alyssa asked him to coach her team.

"She was going into U-14 and asked me if I would coach her team," French said. "She knows I like to have fun, to a limit. We try to do things all together. In a situation like this, you don't have the bond like you would if it was your own kid, but we are close."

And even though all the hustle and bustle of activity is a major part of the French family's lives, Harold French isn't opposed to the chance to stand still for a moment. It's the best reminder of all of what it means to be a dad ... and a stepdad.

"I look forward to spending time with the kids in our backyard," French said. "You know, they won't be here forever."

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