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Bill Haisten: A 'celebration' and a 'blessing': Josh Blankenship, wife head to Colorado this week to finalize adoption of three children

by Tulsa World Bill Haisten

BROKEN ARROW — Football coaches are creatures of habit. After a season has begun, every minute of every day is scripted.

Coaches loathe disruptions, but Josh Blankenship refuses to classify this week’s extraordinary circumstances as being disruptive.

“No,” says Broken Arrow’s first-year head football coach. “It’s a celebration. It’s a blessing.”

You think you’re having a busy week? Check out Josh and Lindsay Blankenship’s week.

Lindsay opened a new Revitalize Medical Spa location in Broken Arrow. She is a former emergency room physician’s assistant and now the co-owner of the Revitalize enterprise.

The Blankenships are the parents of four biological children: 12-year-old son Barrett, 11-year-old daughter Gracie, 8-year-old son Deacon and 6-year-old daughter Stevie.

On Thursday morning, Josh and Lindsay are in Alamosa, Colorado, to finalize the adoption of three sibling children: one girl, 11-year-old Espi; and two boys, 6-year-old Liam and 2-year-old Joey.

Before 40-year-old Josh became the Broken Arrow coach in January, he in 2018-20 was the head man at Adams State College in Alamosa. While there, he and Lindsay became the foster parents of Liam and Joey. Ultimately, the Blankenships also welcomed Espi into their home.

 

“There was never any question that we wanted to adopt these kids,” Josh said. “When you factor in the move back to Oklahoma, and we were still able to pull this off, it’s crazy.”

After Josh, Lindsay and seven kids make the long highway trip back from Alamosa, another layer of “crazy” is added on Friday night.

In the Folds of Honor Patriot Bowl, Josh Blankenship’s Broken Arrow squad challenges the Owasso Rams, coached by his father, Bill Blankenship.

Twenty-three years after Josh was a record-setting quarterback for Bill at Union, the son and the dad collide in a high-stakes football showcase.

“We’ve all known for months that this game would be happening,” Lindsay Blankenship said. “Bill and Angie are Josh’s biggest fans, aside from me and the kids. Of everyone in the family, I think Angie might be the most stressed.”

Angie Blankenship is Bill’s wife and Josh’s mom. When the Tulsa World submitted a request to speak with Angie for this piece, she politely declined. She will not attend the Broken Arrow-Owasso game, Bill reports.

In January — as a proud father who just happened to be the head coach at a rival school — Bill Blankenship attended Josh’s introductory news conference in Broken Arrow.

“What we’ve talked about already is how much fun it would be before the game — the build-up and everything,” Bill Blankenship said that day. “Neither of us wants to think about the postgame handshake. Neither one of us would ever do less than the absolute best for our kids, and that means trying to win the game.

“The Patriot Bowl is fun. What worries me a little is if we see each other in the playoffs.”

Lindsay and Josh

While Josh was a football star at Union, Lindsay was the captain of the spirit squad — at arch-rival Jenks.

They had dated a little while in high school, but when Jenks defeated Union in the 1998 state championship game, Lindsay cheered her guts out for the Trojans.

Seven years later, after Josh had completed his University of Tulsa and Eastern Washington college career, and as he had become a quarterback for the Tulsa Talons arena team, he and Lindsay crossed paths during a concert at Cain’s Ballroom.

“My heart leaped a little bit,” Lindsay recalls. “He pursued me pretty immediately.”

During their first two years of marriage, they were in different time zones. While Lindsay attended school in St. Petersburg, Florida, Josh was Kirk Fridrich’s offensive coordinator at Union.

As of lunch time on Thursday, Josh and Lindsay officially, legally will have become the parents of seven children.

“That’s the joke,” Josh said. “We become a family of nine on Sept. 9. On 9/9.”

“We tried to schedule (the adoption hearing) for a different date,” Lindsay explained, “but this was the date (on which) the Lord wanted us to complete our family. I know Bill and Angie are just ecstatic as we are.”

Lindsay and the children already have traveled to Colorado. Josh planned to leave Broken Arrow about 5 p.m. on Wednesday, after the Tigers conclude their practice session, and will be alone with his thoughts of family and football for 690 miles — through most of northern Oklahoma and into the Panhandle, through two hours of New Mexico and through two hours of Colorado. Alamosa is 230 miles southwest of Denver.

“It’s about 11 hours from here to Alamosa,” Josh said. “It could be 10½, depending on traffic and whether I get pulled over.

“I’ve made that drive at least 20 times. I’m used to it. My wife is doing the actual work in this deal. She’s the rock star. I’m just trying to make sure that I’m in Alamosa on time.”

A big rig is required for a big family, and Lindsay drives a huge Ram van that comfortably accommodates all nine family members. The Broken Arrow assistant coaches have a nickname for Lindsay’s vehicle. They call it “The Blanken Ship.”

Unforgettable week

After having fallen short at Union last week, Josh takes a 1-1 Tiger team to Owasso. Broken Arrow is ranked fourth in Class 6AI, while the second-ranked Rams opened the season with victories over No. 6 Edmond Santa Fe (45-22) and Fayetteville (Arkansas) High School (48-42).

Before the Patriot Bowl kickoff on Friday, Josh Blankenship and Bill Blankenship will do what all head coaches do — meet at midfield for five minutes of small talk. It would be fascinating to eavesdrop on that conversation.

What a week. For Lindsay, there was the stress of opening a new business. For the entire family, there is the joy of adopting children and a 22-hour dose of highway grind and sleep deprivation.

For Josh, there is the uncomfortable assignment of coaching against his dad.

By Saturday, Lindsay and Josh should have quite a story to tell.

Josh: “We as coaches always talk to our players about what is important and what is real. I guess this is a good example of something important and real.”

Lindsay: “The loser of the game may need one night to grieve, and then we’ll all be back to normal and celebrate the good things in life.”