Corey Yardley

Dream Big

Intro and First 3 chapters!

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This shouldn’t belong in anyone’s baby book, especially yours Corey. Your

daddy died June 20th, 1992, 5 days after his 23rd birthday.  You two just adjusted living together for your first year. Chadand I had a lot of ups and downs, but we finally had it together. It took awhile for you guys to get used to sharing me, but you did.
You guys were more buddies than anything. When he got home you always wanted
to go outside and help unload his truck. Your favorite was to take the dogs swimming.

Chadhad high expectations of you, he wanted you to be tough, just like him.
You are so much like him.  I knew your daddy for 7 years, you could say that I raised him. He was such a softy underneath.

He really had to grow up quick he wasn’t going to let you go through the
same thing that he did.  I know when most people think of your dad they think of a wrestler. When I think ofChad I think of him being a daddy. He taught me so much, he was a natural.

I hope you always remember your daddy. If you ever have any questions just ask me.




            Unfortunately it wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I found this note that Mom wrote me in my baby book.  I have been working on this memoir for a little over a year and have learned so much about how the world turns, about my dad, and most importantly, I’ve learned a lot about my own self.      


Chapter 1. 


My mom was nineteen years-old, and my dad was eighteen when they found out that they were having me.  My parents had no intention of having a baby and like most young couples they weren’t ready to care for a child.  Mom initially viewed me as a punishment from God rather than a gift.

My mother’s name is Wendy Yardley, and my dad’s is Chad Dietze.  They were high school sweet hearts and continued their love into their early adult life.  They both went toIowaValleyHigh Schoolin the small town of Marengo, Iowa.  He was a two-time state wrestling champion atIowaValley, which is a big deal inIowa.  Mom was a cheerleader and she told me that before every match my dad would go and give her a kiss on the cheek for good luck.  He wrestled atDrakeUniversity, but just couldn’t cut it at the next level.  Mom went toMountMercycollege for education but her plans changed when she found out that she was having a baby.  

I was born September 18, 1988 at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Our first home was a small apartment in Marengo.  Mom told me the other day very bluntly, “Your dad wasn’t a very good father until you turned three years-old”.  He loved you very much, but he just wasn’t ready to grow up yet.  After I read the note again it made sense, “You guys just got used to sharing me”.

They even started to see other people at one point, but my dad hated the idea of Mom being with someone else.  “He finally got his shit together and moved in with us when you were three”, she said.

He started his own concrete business and we were a family.  Unfortunately when Mom wrote, “I hope you always remember your daddy”, I don’t.  I don’t have one single memory of him.  His life ended tragically when I was four years-old.

            Mom started dating a guy named Joel a year or two after my dad’s death.  This is kind of messed up but Mom told me the other day that she actually went on a date with Joel before my dad moved in with us.  I do have memories of Joel however; I actually thought that he was my dad.  He moved in with us and again we had a happy family of three.

            Mom found out that she was pregnant again when I was six years-old.  I was so excited to have a younger sibling.  Joel on the other hand wasn’t so thrilled about it because he left us too, only this time he left voluntarily.  Mom told me that he just went on vacation. 

            My baby brother and my best friend Cullen Yardley was born October 23, 1994.  This family of three is still a happy family to this day and will be for life.  Of course I was still too young to realize that the hand we were dealt wasn’t exactly in our favor, but Mom had one Hell of a poker face.  I never recall her showing any signs of struggle even though she was a single mom with two kids, no college degree, and no secondary income.  She doesn’t look like much- a little over 5 feet tall, 100 pounds soaking wet, and a total blonde, but she is by far the strongest man or woman that I know.

Growing up without a father wasn’t that bad.  My mom did such a great job of playing both roles of parenting that I never really noticed.  My childhood was never limited or handicapped; I never missed out on anything by not having a dad.  I was perfectly content growing up without one.

There are thousands of dad’s like my brother’s that just bail out once they get a girl pregnant.  Then I think about the dad’s that do stick around, how many of those don’t take the time out of their day to spend time with their kid. 

My mom was the best mom in the world, and she was a better dad than most of the dad’s that I knew too.  As long as she was home, she was down to play catch, whiffle-ball, football, anything just to spend time with me.  We mostly played baseball though, and even though she wasn’t very athletic she managed to do it all; squat like a catcher as I pitched to her, hit grounders, and even throw me batting practice. 

We would play baseball from when the snow melted in March until the snow started to fall in December.  Anytime after supper, up until we couldn’t see the ball anymore because it was so dark.  I don’t know a lot of father’s that are that dedicated to their son, let alone mothers.  My mom’s the sweetest woman in the world, but don’t ever tell her she throws like a girl.

            Of course it wasn’t fun and games all the time.  As I got older, my responsibilities around the house increased.  I stopped going to daycare at the tender age of 7, and often stayed home alone without any supervision.  My grandparent’sNeenahand Papa (Mom’s parents) have always been there for us, they have always been in my corner ever since I can remember.  Once I was old enough to be the man of the house, Mom went back to school and got her degree in nursing.


 Chapter 2. 


Growing up I heard different theories of how my dad died.  I remember being told by one of my friends in second grade that he wrestled so much that he broke all of his bones and died.  I didn’t disagree with the kid because I really didn’t know.

            As I got older I became more curious, but was still reluctant to ask Mom about my dad.  One day when I was about 10 years old I decided to do some snooping around Mom’s room while she was at work.  I dug out her journal in her closet and sat on the edge of her bed as I held it in my hands.  I felt guilty, but curiosity was definitely winning the battle of my conscience.

            I remember the first sentence- “I ripped out the first page of this and hope God can forgive me for what I wrote”.  I noticed that the first page was indeed torn out of the journal and I wanted to know what that first page said so badly.  She then continued with, “Chadwas killed last Friday night.”

Mom had no intention of anyone else reading what she wrote.  This made it difficult for me to follow along and fully understand what was going on.  Nonetheless, I read every word that she had written.

             I never read it again and did a good job of blocking that image out of my head.  I definitely couldn’t run away from what happened to my dad forever because: 1. We grew up in the same small town of about 2,500 people.  2.  We attended the same small high school in that same small town.  3.  He was a two-time state wrestling champion in a state that cherishes its wrestlers.

           Chadand his younger brother Tracy Dietze are legends atIowaValley. Tracydied of brain cancer a few years after my dad’s accident.  Both of their names are honored on the Iowa Valley wrestling mats, they both have large plaques in the trophy case outside the main entrance of the gymnasium, even the annual grade school wrestling tournament is named, “The Chad and Tracy Dietze Youth Wrestling Tournament”.

            So this is the part of the story where I wish I could tell you that I won state four times and carried on my dad’s name, but I played basketball in high school.  I did try wrestling in second grade and even at that young of an age I could feel the pressure.

            I agreed to try wrestling for a year as long as I didn’t have to compete.  Some youth tournaments were non-competitive at the kindergarten-second grade division and didn’t keep score, both of the kid’s hands were raised, and everyone got the same trophy.  No tears, no losers, all fun.  These were the only tournaments that I would enter.
We went to North English for a tournament with my uncle and cousin; I agreed to wrestle because Mom assured me that they wouldn’t be keeping score.

Luckily, I found out the fun way that my own mother lied to me and entered me into a competitive tournament after the referee raised only my hand.  I won my second and third matches too and placed first that night.  I stood on top of the podium with my trophy as the others stood below me with their dinky medals.  Wrestling was fun there for a while.  I gained quite a bit of confidence from winning and Mom signed me up for the annualChadand Tracy Dietze Wrestling Tournament in Marengo. 

During one of our wrestling practices that week one of my coaches told my friend and wrestling buddy Nick to come with him.  We were led through the hallway and into another room where a group of adults were congregating.  Nothing unusual, but I didn’t know what was going on either.
 One of the adults told me to show them my favorite wrestling maneuver on Nick.  This confused me because they told Nick to let me put my favorite move on him, and he was told not to wrestle back. 

They told me to look up and the camera’s flashed.  Even at that point I had no idea that I was the “poster boy” for theChadand Tracy Dietze Wrestling Tournament. A large picture that portrayed me locking Nick up in a cradle covered up half of the sport’s page in our county newspaper advertising the tournament.

I was confident from the night of my first place finish in North English, up until the Dietze wrestling tournament in Marengo.  There were 4 times as many kids here, and the gymnasium was packed.  I was nervous as I walked onto the mat for my first match, thinking that everyone’s eyes were on me.

The match didn’t last very long and I was pinned within seconds.  I cried as a walked off the mat, thinking everyone in the gym was watching me and there weren’t 8 other matches going on at the same time.  Afterwards Mom gave me a speech and told me about a time that my dad lost a match and instead of getting mad he walked right off the mat and just shrugged his shoulders.  I lost again and fought back the tears and shrugged my shoulders.  I got third place out of four and this was the last time I ever wrestled.

I started to play basketball in 3rd grade and enjoyed it.  All of my friends played and it was fun so I stuck with it every year until graduation.  I was always the smallest athlete in every sport I played football, basketball, track, and baseball.  Every year the kids around me got bigger, harrier, and more masculine.  I didn’t hit my growth spurt until my freshman year of college.  What I lacked in physical development, I made up for in heart, effort, and knowledge of each sport that I played.  This allowed me to be competitive, nothing came easy for me, but that’s life.

There was one week out of the school year that I hated from 7th grade up until graduation:  Wrestling sign-ups.  Coaches, upperclassmen, girls, even my friends would say, “Come on Corey you’re too small to play basketball.” 

Or, “Come on Corey it’s in your blood!”

My favorite was definitely when some old guy said this to my grandma at one of my junior high basketball games, “Corey has no business on the basketball court he’s too small.”

I never let it get to me though.  I simply didn’t value their opinion.  Even as a 7th grader and having high school upperclassmen try and pressure me, making fun of my height and basketball abilities, and bringing up the blood of my dead father I would say I handled the situation very well.


 Chapter 3.


Like most people, I only saw my dad as a wrestler, not as a father.  I always had the opportunity to ask Mom more, but I just simply chose to avoid the subject.  It was only a matter of time before it was going to be forced upon me to know.  I remember that day of my junior year of high school like it was yesterday.

            It started like any other day P.E. first hour and then criminal justice followed.  I always made the three minutes given in between classes count.  I would exchange smiles and flirt with the girls, and give all my boys high-fives. My famous entrance to each class was to slip through the doorway in midst of the “tardy bell”. 

I was hot as hell from gym class, and our criminal justice teacher had the
heat cranked all the way up.  I could see the waves of heat coming off of the rusted gray heaters and feel them engulf my already hot skin. 

I took my sweatshirt off not only because I was hot, but because it was lecture day and I needed a pillow.  He took attendance as we chatted and paid absolutely no attention to him until he raised his voice, “Alright settle down now”.  It sounded like he had a clothespin sealing his nostrils shut.

“Today we’ll be going over self defense”, he screeched.  I buried my head into my sweatshirt and somehow managed to tune his voice out entirely. His lectures were always the same.  He would begin by reading the notes straight out of our textbook, then end with a personal story of some sort until the end of class.  I have to give Mr. Templeton credit; most of his stories were entertaining and humorous, but mostly because the guy was just a complete dumbass. 

I lifted my head for story time and joined class for the second half of the hour.  “I can give you an example of self-defense and it happened right around this area.  I
even taught this student for a few years, most of you have probably heard this.”

I looked through the lenses of his spectacles and into his beady little eyes as he carried on.  “This boy and a group of his buddies had been bullying this kid at school
throughout the entire day. He was really picking on the kid, and his posse of bullies always had his back.”

Mr. Templeton made it sound like he himself had been beaten up a few times in school.

“They were your typical jocks in high school, and they just bullied this kid throughout the entire school day.”

He continued to build up the story as I looked at the clock and noticed we still had
10 minutes left of class.  This was brewing up to be a good one. 

“These guys wouldn’t leave the poor kid alone, and followed him to his trailer-home once school was over with. The kid was scared to death of these guys.  He feared for his life, so he waited at his front door with a shotgun. The bully stepped out of the driver’s seat and BAM! He was shot dead right there. The kid’s life was in danger and he was protecting his own life, that’s self-defense.” 

It couldn’t have been that long ago if Mr. Templeton was still teaching, and if it was a murder within the last 100 years the entire town would know about it. 
“You guys have heard this story, right?” “I mean, I’m sure you all know who got shot?” he asked.

We all looked around the classroom with the same puzzled look on our faces.  A girl spoke for the entire class and said, “I’ve never heard of this before”.  

I thought to myself, “Well if they were going to gang beat him to death at his house then yeah the guy probably deserved it”.  We all waited for Mr. Templeton to tell us who was killed.  He finally dropped the bomb and knew what he had done once he said, “Chad Dietze.”

My heart plummeted and my body felt frozen, but my skin still felt hot at the same time.  I couldn’t move or breathe and I stared at my shoes beneath my desk.  Never in my life have I been in such shock.  No one moved, no one said anything; the silence of that classroom seemed so loud.  I heard Mr. Templeton mutter, “sorry” and watched him depart towards the back of the classroom to his desk.  All I could think about was me thinking that my dad deserved to get shot, or that I had been lied to my entire life, or that the murderer was actually the victim all along.

  There was still five minutes remaining of class.  If people were visiting I didn’t hear them, I just remember staring blankly at the ground and wishing that every other second that went by the bell would just ring.  It finally rang and I could tell everyone wanted to get the Hell out of there, but none wanted to leave as badly as I did.

This definitely put a dent in my day.  I wasn’t expecting to talk about my dad’s murder in criminal justice class when I woke up this morning.  I didn’t know much about my dad, but I never heard anything about him being a bad guy.  But why would they tell me that my dead father was a bad guy? 

I tried to play it off like nothing happened.  I’d done it my entire life why couldn’t I just do it for the rest of the day?  Conveniently my 3rd period chemistry class was in my homeroom, and on any other day I’d roam the halls and chat for a few minutes before returning to the classroom.    Instead I moved up two rows to the desk that I sat in for chemistry and barely moved.  My homeroom/chemistry teacher sensed something was wrong with me right away. 

My classmates weren’t in my second period class so to them it was just another day.  I don’t remember anyone trying to joke around with me or even attempting to converse with me, and if they did I wouldn’t have known it.  I think I was still in shock at the beginning of 3rd period. 

My former sweatshirt and pillow was now being used as a tissue and I cried quietly into it.  I wiped the tears from my face and asked my teacher if I could see the guidance counselor.  He didn’t even bother writing me a hall pass, and I didn’t care for one either, so I grabbed my books and walked briskly out the door. 

All of the kids loved our guidance counselor Mr. Samuelson. It was impossible not to, he was like a teddy bear and Santa Clause all wrapped in one.  I rushed into his office with urgency; I usually always had a smile on my face so it was probably odd for many of my peers and teachers to see me this way.

I plopped onto the seat that he offered me and hunched over.  My elbows were digging into the top of my kneecaps and I ran my fingers through my hair as I stared at my shoes.  He asked me what was wrong and I remember just sitting there and sobbing.

I relived second period as the tears flowed constantly down my cheeks and into my mouth.  I didn’t bother wiping them from my face because I could feel them continually flowing out of my eyes and there were no signs of them stopping.

Mr. Sam only had one suggestion and that was to call my mom in to the school to talk to me.  I put my head down into my lap and listened to Mr. Sam talk to my mom.  I couldn’t get the image out of my head, I didn’t know whether I was mad, sad, or embarrassed.  All that I knew is that after all of these years of avoiding the subject of my dad, it finally bit me in the ass.

I peeled my teary eyes from the palms of my hands and saw the only person I wanted to see at that very moment: Mom. She was sporting her usual Monday-Friday attire, wearing her nursing scrubs and white Nikes. Our eyes met and she was in Superwoman mode, ready to save the day.

All of those years that I avoided the subject of my dad came down to this. I was kicking myself for never stepping up and knowing the real truth about my dad, because I always had the opportunity. I Mom rubbed my back and calmly asked what was wrong. I sputtered out the story as I helplessly tried fighting the tears. When I was finished she told me exactly what I wanted to hear.

“Your dad was not a bad guy and he was definitely not a bully.” Her opening
statement already made me feel better. 

“Sure he and his friends were a little rowdy but they weren’t out there to kill anybody.  It was a different time back then, fighting was how things were settled.” I wiped my eyes and blew my nose when the telephone started to ring. It was the principal and he wanted to meet with Mom, me, and Mr. Templeton.
We walked through the halls not saying a word, I was still a little nervous.
I just wanted to go home and shut my brain off. We entered the room and Mr. Templeton was sitting by the principal across from two empty chairs.  Mom and I took our seats and let him make the first move.  “I’m terribly sorry I brought it up, I never should have. Bringing up your dad in class was wrong and I never should have done it.” “I will apologize in front of the class tomorrow.”

I knew that he was sorry, but he was apologizing for the wrong reason.  “It isn’t that you talked about my dad in front of the class, that isn’t the problem. I don’t want you to apologize for bringing him up; I want you to apologize for lying. I want you to apologize for spreading things that aren’t true about my dad who can’t even defend himself because he is dead!”
            He nodded his head as if he understood me, but the next day he didn’t clear
things up with the class. Mr. Templeton apologized solely for bringing up the subject of my dad, not for lying and spreading gossip. I never confronted him and I just sat there. I wanted to jump right out of my desk and punch his face in, but I didn’t.  I should have done that the day before, but looking back on the incident I’m glad that it happened.

This brought Mom and I even closer than what we already were.  I still didn’t know everything, but I wasn’t afraid to ask questions about him once in awhile.


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