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Diane Tarantini: All-in


By Diane Tarantini

For more than a quarter of each year, I am a football widow on the weekends, not because my husband is an avid fan, but because he is an excellent Division I collegiate football official.

When individual officials have exceptional seasons, they are often assigned post-season games. That’s how I met Gary and Jeanie -- at the 2016 Outback Bowl. Gary and Jeanie are all-in. All-in love, all-in fitness, all-in work. My eyes widened when I learned they’ve been married 44 years. They seem five years older than us, not 15.

Over the course of a week, I recognized how they managed to stay married that long. Holding hands, finding one another across a crowd of tens of thousands, giggling over glasses of wine after the game: “I chased her and caught her when we were in college.” “That’s not how it was. I caught him. How lucky I am.” Gary and Jeanie are all-in when it comes to love.

On the field, Gary was the trimmest guy on the crew. “An hour a day he works out,” Jeanie told me as we watched the warm-up. “Often an hour and a half. Look at him. Does he seem a day over 30?” Jeanie never said what her fitness routine was, but she mentioned playing softball and ladies’ flag football. And modeling. I could see that. With her height, slender figure, and swingy blonde hair, she was lovely. Gary and Jeanie are all-in when it comes to staying active.

All the way down and back to Clearwater for Beach Day, the guys talked football -- rules, mechanics, statistics. I know how many hours a week my husband studies the college football rulebook, debates plays over the phone with other officials and watches game film. I have no doubt Gary does the same. At this level, the officials are extremely committed to professional excellence. They’re all-in for officiating football.

Jeanie’s passionate about her job, as well. She writes, practices and performs in musical productions with two different groups of women. She proudly described a 2015 show in a high-security women’s prison. “It was the most appreciative audience we ever had.” Jeanie is all-in for her job.

The thing about being all-in is it produces passion. Passion is attractive. The thing about being all-in is it makes you feel alive, young, no matter how old you are. The thing about being all-in is it makes anything possible.

All-in people don’t ask why; they ask why not?

If you have a desire to be all-in, but you’re not sure where to start, pick an area of your life -- physical, professional, relational -- set a goal, then figure out what steps are needed to achieve it.

Whatever you choose to pursue, know I’m rooting for you.

Lifestyles columnist Diane Tarantini is a freelance writer and blogger who lives in Morgantown. Check out her blog, “Lessons from a Life Half Lived,” at She can be reached at


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