You meet some of the nicest families on Salem’s ballfields.
Or reunite with them: Such was the case when my daughter recognized a Parks-and-Rec soccer coach’s wife as an old school friend. She even remembered running against Daffney Dutton (now Blais) for “Friendliest” eighth-grader at Andrew Lewis Middle School. (Caroline’s slogan: “I’m so friendly, that I even voted for Daffney.”)
Daffney’s friendly family can fill a soccer field: Trenton (11), Cayleb (9), Tavree (7), Bria (4), Kylei (2) and of course “Coach Dad” Tyson. They moved back to Salem in August 2011.
The couple met at church in Roanoke (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Both have served missions: she, 16 months in Italy (plus two months of learning Italian); he, two years in Brazil (where he learned to play soccer).
She had attended Virginia Tech for a year, and then finished a degree at Virginia Western. She also worked for Wilton Cake Decorating Co. as the Va./N.C. teacher coordinator, but left for the mission. Afterwards she worked as a Lewis-Gale Pediatric Dept. secretary.
The couple married in 2000 and moved to Utah, where Tyson graduated from Brigham Young University. His employer ALSCO moved them to Arizona; they transferred to California (one year) and North Carolina (five years.)
Daffney took breaks from academics “for moves and babies.” She earned a U. of Phoenix business degree just before their fourth child was born. (Whew!)
Now “I am living out my life’s dream of being a wife and mother,” she wrote via email. She’s also “an aspiring photographer with a nice camera and a son [Trenton] willing to learn with me.” (She shot great team photos for Cayleb’s “Strikers.”)
Tyson transferred to Roanoke so they could help with her mom’s medical care. “The timing was right (we feel divinely engineered),” she emailed, “and we are so grateful after spending the last 11 years away to literally return home.” (They live with her parents.)
She appreciates the “good examples and built-in support system” of living near family. She and Tyson get to go on dates — a rarity in their “away”-life. And she’s had fun getting reacquainted with school friends and meeting “their cute families.”
“There is truth to the saying, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,’” she wrote. Although she’s thankful to have lived in other places and to have enjoyed those friendships, she finds “there truly is something special about the people in this town…. People are genuine and kind. Quick to share compliments and kind words. They look out for one another. The friendliness is unparalleled. [Even in the grocery store] people make time for one another.
“I love … a sense of patriotism and [that] the National Anthem is still sung each week in school. I love that people here still say ‘Merry Christmas.’
“Salem is simply a great place to live and raise a family. We look forward to meeting many more people in the coming years,” Daffney concluded.
And we are glad to see such nice returning natives — and a coach, “to boot.”