A scene from summer: Father and son at Harmon Park in Prairie Village

Tyler DeBey and father Rusty playing tennis at Harmon Park.
Tyler DeBey and father Rusty playing tennis at Harmon Park.

By Chris Heady

Summer is coming to a close. And its impending end combined with relatively mild weather are attracting northeast Johnson Countians to make the most of what has so far been a magical season.

On Tuesday afternoon, SM East science teacher Rusty DeBey and son Tyler were among the late-season revelers, with Rusty schooling Tyler in the fundamentals of tennis at Harmon Park, their laughter filling the humid air.

The younger DeBey calls out the the score.

“15-30?” he says, questioning himself.

“No, you always say your score first, so what would it be?” Rusty says, channeling his inner teacher.

“Oh so, 30-15.”

Tyler wipes his forehead with his bare arm, his custom-made Manchester United soccer jersey splotched with sweat. He bounces the ball once and whacks it just barely hard enough to make it over the net, making his father gun forward.

Rusty catches up to the ball and pops it up into the air, obviously trying to get Tyler to hit it back instead of rifling the ball past his son like he easily could. But despite his best efforts, Tyler whiffs, the ball bouncing six times before it hits the fence behind him.

Rusty raises his arms, laughing and smiling with a “What else do you want me to do?” look at Tyler. All Tyler can do is smack his own forehead and laugh.

Rusty gave up coaching football at SM East to take his daughter and son to their many activities, which he says are hard enough to keep up with. Having football would have been too much on his plate, but when his children grow up, he’ll end up going back to coaching, he thinks.

He gave up coaching for this reason, for moments like these.

Tyler retrieves the ball and calls the score out again.