Wednesday, March 31, 2021

It's Not About the Weight Room....Right? Thoughts on Women in Sports

It's not about the weight room. And yet, it is.

By now, every sports fan in America should be aware of the story that emerged shortly before tip off of the 2021 men's and women's NCAA basketball tournament. University of Oregon basketball player, Sedona Price created a TikTok video to expose the disparity between the weight room facility and resources allocated for the men in Indianapolis and the women in San Antonio. Same sport, same tournament, same difference. Wait, strike that—it's not true.

The difference is remarkable. The NCAA issued and apology. Many were not surprised to see what has long been true.

How's so? Muffet McGraw, former head coach of Notre Dame women's basketball , said "
Well, I was happy to see it, and I was happy that people were surprised to see it. Because I think we're shining some light on the inequities that have been there for decades." McGraw would know—she retired from her position in April 2020 after 33 years at the helm.

As an outspoken advocate for women in leadership and a veteran teacher, McGraw offered examples of inequalities beyond the weight room. As written in Notre Dame's Muffet McGraw still shooting for women's empowerment, she said, 

Both the men's and the women's [teams] are playing on some college campuses. But you can't tell on the men's side if they're at Purdue or Butler. Because the NCAA has got a brand-new court with a beautiful March Madness logo in the middle of it. [The women are] playing at three schools in Texas who still have the regular court. So there's a three-point line for men and a three-point line for women. One court even has a volleyball court set up on it, with absolutely no signage. Then the courts in the Alamodome that the NCAA has provided for us simply say, "Women's Basketball" in the middle. The NCAA does not allow the women to use the March Madness [logo]. 
I think some of these things seem small to people watching. But there's so many. It's a pretty long laundry list of things that are inequitable. The problem to me is that they treat us as if we don't deserve better, and they're OK with it.

McGraw isn't OK with it and sports fans know it. As Laskey wrote, "McGraw captured attention outside the sports world in 2019 when her Final Four press conference answer about her practice of hiring only female assistant coaches went viral." Her words were truthful and they were divisive. I heard applause from many and jeers from others—long after "One Shining Moment" was played. Perhaps I should reference something else...that video montage does not feature any women. I guess I now know's riddled with that March Madness logo.

Price concluded her report with the declaration: "If you're not upset about this problem, then your'e a part of it," 

McGraw said, "W
e have to ... enact change by raising our voices and making a stand, letting people know that we are not second-class citizens and we're not going to take it anymore.

So where does that leave us? What do you think? What can we do. Here are but two humble suggestions.

1. Talk about your Mount Rushmore. Expand your G.O.A.T.
Sports fan love a bar stool. They relish a good debate, new and old criteria, allowing history to be a teacher—for good, bad and much more. 

As much as I love this arena, I have grown very tired of the endless conversation about the G.O.A.T. My disdain for this topic isn't for the exceptions people make, the bias they carry or even the rules /qualifications they enact. All of that can be fun. No, this conversation is nearly nauseating to me because it seldom, if ever, profiles or mentions women. It should. Why not?

When Sheryl Swoopes turned 50 earlier this month, I heard Michael Wilbon—cohost of "Pardon the Interruption" claim her on his Mount Rushmore. As he said this, my ears perked up. I leaned in. With synapses flying, I said to myself Now we're talking! This something we can all do: change the narrative. Invite the input of others. Press your opinion. Go for it.  

FYI: Swoopes is on my Mount Rushmore, too. I LOVE that she won defensive player of the year and was scoring champion in the same year!

2. Read, Write and Follow a Female Athlete or Women's Sports Team
Supporting, following and celebrating an individual athlete as well as a dynamic team is one of the great joys of sports. 
Sports marketing 101 proclaims the R.O.I on a popular name and personality or an exciting crew is legion. So why not invest a little time, a little effort in getting to know female athletes. Why don't we make more of an effort to tell a female team's story?

Sixty Minutes' profile of the renowned sportswriter, Dave Kindred is all the evidence you will need. It is one of the best stories I have heard in a long time. He's a tremendous example and his personal story says it all. Enough of me—I can only encourage you to see for yourself.

Dave Kindred has covered the biggest moments and brightest stars in sports for more than half a century, but now he tells 60 Minutes he's found his most fulfilling work: writing about girls high school hoops in central Illinois. 

Back to the Weight Room
Though I haven't been there since March 2020, I love working out in the weight room at my gym. A co-ed space, I've never felt intimidated in this space—but I know many women do and I'm sensitive to their reality. I would like those who are tentative about entering this space to know that most people are more focused on themselves than you. For example, due to my heart health I cannot even lift heavy weight. I've taken some ribbing over the years, but most people never say anything. I'm just happy to be there. I put my weights away. I'm respectful of other people's space. I don't sing with my ear pods in, grunt or scream. I talk a little trash—but never about the weight I'm lifting.

I have noticed in recent years just how many more women—in particular younger women are active and showing up in the weight room. Like their male counterparts, they are focused, hard working, intentional and social. It's a good place to be. And, it's a place I would like to talk about a female Mount Rushmore....women GOATs and March Madness 2021. I have to say, I was sorry to see Oregon lose but happy to see Stanford back in the Finals. 

First, thanks to Dyan for sharing the story about Dan Kindred!!
Weight Room
Mt Rushmore

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Is Failure Your Fuel?—Question from Two Great Female Leaders

On Monday, I received what I hope will be the results of my final COVID test for 2021. I opened the email from COLOR SF to see a green arrow that said NEGATIVE. In one sense, the words and the image were contradictory. Green means go. That's positive—and in this case—so is the word "negative." My brain was happy to make these connections.  With the thought of Carla Harris's “negative motivation” fresh in my mind, I started to wonder: How often does a negative approach elicit a green arrow? In other words, are more athletes and competitors motivated by something negative or would they rather be fired up by something positive? 

As written in my last post "The Positives of Negative Emotion," Carla Harris ,vice chairman of wealth management and senior client adviser at Morgan Stanley, admits that she "leverages what people say cannot be done into energy to prove them wrong." She coaches with negative motivation. Since reading about her philosophy, I have seen she's not alone.

In her book "Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power and Change the Game," Abby Wambach promotes the lesson to "Make Failure Your Fuel." This realization was born from something negative. While still on the youth national team, she visited the U.S. Women’s national team’s locker room. Next to the door, she noticed a 5” x 7” photograph of  longtime rival: the Norwegian national team, celebrating after having just beaten the USA in the 1995 World Cup. Wambach wrote, "It was a picture of their own team’s last defeat.”

Five years later, when she became a member of that very national team, Wambach said "Hey, what was the deal with the picture you kept on the locker room wall of the Norwegian team? Why did you want that to be the last thing you looked at before you went out to play?" 

She writes “they began to explain to me that the first order of national team business is to win. But that when failure does come, the team isn't afraid of it; the team is fueled by it. The team never denies its last failure. We don't reject it. We don't accept is as proof that we aren't worth of playing at the highest level. Instead, we insist upon remembering. Because we know the lessons of yesterday's become the fuel for tomorrow’s win.”

I had to wonder: Would that work for me?  Do I need the visual of a tough moment to keep me focused? to fire me up? 

Wambach adds, I came to understand that "in order to become a champion—on and off the field—I'd need to spend my life transforming my failures into my fuel."

I thought to myself, there's something I can wrestle with. I'm not sure that transformation is anything I could do on my own. It would require patience, prayer, mentors and more. For me to work with something negative—like a loss or against an errant expectation is not easy. It asks something of me....deeper questions, stronger emotions—quite possibly the ones I don't want to deal with. 

Wambach puts in print the Old Rule: Failure means you're out of the game. New Rule: Failure means you're finally IN the game. I think negative emotion is calling us to this same realization.

Do you agree? Does proving people wrong get you going? Do you see negatives as positive? Is that fuel for the fire? Thankful for these female leaders who not only lead from the bench but set their own, unique and outstanding example.

Photo credits
Abby Quote

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Positive of Negative Motivation: Thank you, Carla Harris.

I am a positive person. I would rather affirm that deny. I do what I can to make things possible, but occasionally it's just better to act, speak and think otherwise. For example, as a coach and a teacher, I know that "addition by subtraction" is much more than a catchy phrase. I cannot not tell you that's true. Quite often, less really is more. And thanks to Carla Harris, the recipient of the 2021 Laetare Award, I now know "negative motivation" is a positive approach—in spite of its name.

The Laetare Medal is an annual award given by the University of Notre Dame to recognize an individual who has displayed remarkable service to the Catholic Church, academics and society. At the commencement ceremony in May, the University will confer this distinction upon business leader, gospel singer, speaker and author Carla Harris.

As written in Notre Dame News

Harris currently serves as the vice chairman of wealth management and senior client adviser at Morgan Stanley and is on Harvard University’s and the Walmart Corp’s boards.

Throughout the course of her career, Harris has worked to promote women and people of color in business. She helped create Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab and oversees the company’s multicultural client strategy as a whole.

Characteristic of Harris’ approach to her own success has been a mantra that has carried her beyond many obstacles and naysayers: “Never count yourself out.” Harris coaches others with a “negative motivation” approach, leveraging what people say cannot be done into energy to prove them wrong. She likewise understands her successes as a responsibility to help others, saying, “We are blessed so that we may be a blessing to others."

Her approach caught my attention. Negative motivation? It seems contradictory. To me, motivation feels inherently positive. It is fueled by optimism. But it's also driven by desire and Harris' life is testimony of a truth that too many women, too many people of color, too many people encounter. Many doors aren't open. Ceilings are made of something other than glass. The world says "no way," or even worse "there is no way." Harris' stands before herself and others and says We can. You can. I can....or rather "you/we/I cannot not do this!." And why not?!

Yasiel Puig has always been my example for addition by subtraction. Talented but not a great teammate the Dodgers have fared better without him.

In math, the multiplication of two negatives results in a positive. Every language, has a construction in which two negatives make a positive. And so it is with a reality that many people face. When people tell you to count yourself out, use negative motivation and prove them wrong. I think Carla Harris has it right.

I speak about Carla Harris in Episode 17 of my podcast FaithFondue. You can listen here!

Photo Credits
Carla Harris

Monday, March 15, 2021

Saved by The Players Championship: A Lesson in Humility After Vaccine #2

The only reason I didn't sign up for a Sunday tee time is because I wanted to watch the final round of The Players' Championship. I didn't see much of the first two rounds and on moving day, I played nine holes before heading to the Oakland Coliseum to get my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Thank you, FEMA. Thank you, Pfizer. And thank you, TPC Sawgrass!

To me, this tourney, "the fifth major," lives up to the hype. Between the island green and so many other dramatic, demanding holes the players themselves are really put to the physical and mental test of this great game. Furthermore, a win at The Players gives much more than a $2.7 million prize (from a overall purse of $15 million); it affords a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour (formerly ten years), a three-year invitation to the Masters, three-year exemptions for the U.S. Open and The Open Championship, and an exemption to the next three PGA Championship. In short, there is a reason the who's who in golf—this year, 49 of the top 50 players—put a lot of skin in the game.

I turned on my television hoping that Lee Westwood would win it all. The 47 year old Englishman is one of three players on the tour who has been number one in the world and never won a major. I love that he is my age and that his caddy is female; Helen Storey is also his fiancee.

I laid on the couch and could barely move my arm. Fortunately, my remote control has voice activation ;-) As a teacher who gets the flu shot every year, I anticipated a sore arm after the first and the second dose of the vaccine. Check and check. But this pain was tremendous. My arm was heavy and extremely tender. At certain points in the day, I was unable to even lift it.

I watched the front nine of the leaders in relative discomfort and as the intensity on the course heated up, so did every last side effect listed by the CDC. Nausea. Chills. Fever. Body Ache. My own misery was growing. I started to just surrender to sleep. As much as I wanted to see Justin Thomas fly out of his shoes as he tees off, I could barely stay awake...and if I did, I found that my headache only throbbed more.

The thrill of competition couldn't fully distract me from my worsening condition. I told myself every last line of personal motivation I have ever used as an athlete. Just get through this. Pain is temporary. Stay strong. In 24 hours from now... I drank sips of water to stay hydrated. I added more layers to stay warm. I reached out to a few friends for encouragement and repeated to myself—ride this out.

I woke up to see the last few of what was, once again, great golf. How I love that look... exhausted athletes bringing it in and finishing strong. Smiling because they did their best and taking some satisfaction in that. Cant' be easy to do.

Thomas overcame a challenging first two days to win by finishing 14-under after shooting a final-round 68. After signing his scorecard, I knew he would be asked about losing his grandfather. Paul Thomas who died just five weeks ago, was a longtime head golf professional. It goes without saying, the two shared a love for the game As written in The Palm Beach Post, he "would have been proud at how his grandson overcame a start in which he was outside the cutline after the first 27 holes and recovered to card a 64-68 on the weekend on the way to a 14-under 274 for the tournament, one shot better than ageless wonder Lee Westwood."

Thomas recalled how his grandfather, aged 89, was at the forefront of his mind as he sealed the win. “I think about him every day but thought about him this morning and then I think when I saw my dad walking up 18 — that was the first time during or since I teed off on one when I really thought about him,” said the number three player in the world.

Thomas, got so emotional he had a difficult time trying to say how much his grandfather meant to him and how he wished he could talk to him. As Justin shed tears, it was hard not to shed my own. My pain, though real, was very different. I thought of how that served as an appropriate theme for the year--tears of loss, from physical pain. It's amazing to me how in a single moment we can hold such complex and varied human emotions. What a day.

With no golf to distract me, the pain intensified. I was told at the FEMA site to wait 24 hours before taking Tylenol but I couldn't wait any longer. At 22 hours and counting, I took two, and fell asleep for another two hours. I wanted to throw up, but I willed myself to keep it down so the medicine could work. It did.

When I woke up, I felt like a human being again. Though drained of energy, the Tylenol broke my fever and abated my acute body ache. My chills were gone and I was ready for Chicken Noodle Soup. I had the slightest of appetite and realized, I finally turned the corner. I could say "tomorrow will be better" and actually believe it. #Humility

While many people have posted pictures of getting the shot, holding their vaccination card, there is nothing that can or will capture my sentiments of the second shot. While most people are celebratory and grateful, I have been humbled. I still feel that way. My perspective on all of it has changed. 

I am still not 100%. I had every last side effect reported by the CDC. My reaction was severe and I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but I also know countless of Americans have been at risk for the actual disease this vaccine was preventing me from for a full year now. Though I don't know many personally, too many men and women have died from COVID-19. Some died alone, others died in hospitals, and all because what I got on Saturday wasn't available.

I think if a friend had pushed me to play golf on Sunday, I might have. And that would have made what was bad, far worse. Anytime I get sick, I am humbled by what the human body can do and what it feels like to be broken. Physical pain consumes your psyche. It takes the joy out of what we love most—like a great tourney. But it can't and never will break us from the strongest of emotions:  empathy as a 27-year old man cry tears of joy and grief. Gratitude for the weight that has been lifted in becoming fully vaccinated. Appreciation for those who care for me and wish for my healing. Inspiration at those who are working tirelessly to get the vaccine into our arms. 

Please know, if you have any side effects from the second dose, I am here to send words of advice and encouragement. And if you don't, enjoy another round of golf!

The 2021 Players Championship was the backdrop for another leg in the COVID-19 journey. Many graces and many struggles. Different types of pain and tears. The finish line for this particular race closes in. Let's cheer for one another to cross that finish line. Peace.

I speak about "The Fifth Major" in my podcast @FaithFondue. Give it a listen HERE!

Photo Credits
JT Trophy
Lee and Helen
JT and Paul
Vaccination Card

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Lunch with Serena Williams—Three Takeaways

Today, I had lunch with Serena Williams. 

Thanks to the University of San Francisco' Silk Series, I logged in to webinar that featured a conversation between Associate Vice President for Development Jennifer Azzi and the "tennis superstar, entrepreneur, activist, philanthropist, and venture capitalist: Serena Williams." Like a typical lunch day, the conversation lasted but a half hour. And here are but three take aways from the lunch bunch.

Her sense of humor.
People know a lot about Serena. This should not be surprising because she is everywhere. From the winner's circle of every Grand Slam, to the Olympic Games to Meghan and Harry's wedding, Serena is a household name and a known personality. What we see has been further revealed in a number of documentaries like the HBO series "Being Serena" or her profile as Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year. She is easy to describe—ambitious, focused, legendary and strong. Serena is smart, passionate and fierce. She's also really funny.

I don't know that I have ever heard the media or fans talk about just how funny she is. Perhaps it is because she's not trying to be....but she is. 

Serena is articulate and delivers her opinions and insights comfortably. She imparts her color commentary without much affect. Her dead pan humor is good, so good that people might miss it. She has a fantastic eye roll, too (I mean it). 

When talking about her daughter Olympia she said "she's in this phase right now where she thinks she should get a present everyday. And that's not how things work." She admitted that her daughter's desire to sleep with her and Alexis—her husband—is ruining her dinner plans. When asked about how she relaxes or finds way to destress she said "I love getting my nails done, but that hasn't been an option." She didn't even try to make up another answer. Azzi moved on.

Serena is as Serena does. And her commentary on that cracks me up. In the documentary "Venus and Serena," when asked about her size and body image, Serena said "well first of all I don't lift weighs because I think my arms are already too built. I don't use my upper body. My muscles are just for show, I don't know why they are still here—I never use them."  My students always looked at me in confusion at this comment. Is she serious? they wonder. She names her difficult personalities. There is Meghan and Laquanda. Her mother warned the viewer, "Don't let Laquanda get loose." 

I wonder what is the name of her comedic personality. I'm a fan.

What Motivates Serena
Every great athlete is asked at one point or another to describe why they play the game. Many have something to prove—whether it be to society, someone or even just themselves. Others want to be the greatest, to inspire others and leave a legacy.

Tom Brady has shared that football is the only place where he can truly be himself. I found his reason fascinating; I appreciated hearing something so unexpected. I found that in Serena, too.

At first I wasn't sure if she was dismissive of the question. Serena said what motivates her is love. She loves the game. It's what she loves to do. So simple and yet so on point. Why hadn't I thought of that before?

That love speaks volumes. It's why fans are drawn to certain players. It's not something a person can fake. I'm sure during the tenure of one's career, an athlete must fall in and out of love with their sport. I would like to hear Serena speak to that but I believe her when she states this love is deep, lasting and life-giving. Thank you, Serena!

At the conclusion of the conversation, USF's President, Jesuit Father Paul Fitzgerald thanked Serena for her love of art and support of it. This was news to me as well.

Serena shared her love for modern art and her efforts to support black artists. When she admitted that she was a bit of an artist, I found myself leaning in. I wondered what her medium might be. She didn't say much about this new passion. Instead she stated "tennis is my art." I smiled because that is what I have long believed to be true. 

In Closing
A good meal—a memorable one—is nourishing not just because of the food, but the conversation. Thank you Serena!

I speak about lunch with Serena in my podcast @FaithFondue. Give it a listen HERE!

Photo Credits
USF Silk Series
Playing Tennis

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Shtisel and Reverence: The Best of the Best

I absolutely loved "Ted Lasso" and "The Last Dance" captured my imagination. They should, both speak to Sports and Spirituality with proficiency. "Shtisel" however is different. For one, it has nothing to do with sports. It's set in Jerusalem and uses English subtitles to translate from Hebrew. Still, Shtisel is the show I have enjoyed the most during the COVID era. 

Season 1. I miss Elisheva so much...

While many people are familiar with "Unorthodox," Shtisel is an Israeli television drama series about a fictional Haredi Jewish (ultra-Orthodox Jewish) family living in the Geula neighborhood of Jerusalem. The show, which was first released in 2013 follows the life of Shulem Shtisel —the strong-willed patriarch and his five grown children. Like manna from heaven the third season will be released  on March 25!  

Why Shtisel? How could it possibly speak to a Catholic American? to a woman who loves sports? And why write about it on a Sports and Spirituality blog? Here are but a few thoughts. 

Peter Beinart of The Atlatntic writes, "Shtisel’s themes—the bonds of family, the pursuit of love, and the relationship between the living and the dead—are universal, its setting, the ultra-Orthodox Geula neighborhood of Jerusalem, is to most Jews (let alone non-Jews) mysterious. Shtisel re-creates it obsessively. One of the show’s creators, Yehonatan Indursky, grew up haredi in Jerusalem, and Shtisel employs mashgiachs (supervisors) to ensure that every detail is correct." 

Still struggling to accept Libby

Even before immersing myself into the Shtisel family—which like Ted Lasso, I often forgot isn't real—learning about Judaism in its many expressions has deepened my understanding of Christianity. As I have grown in my relationship with Jesus and belief in Him, so too has my appreciation for the tradition in which He was raised. 

Father Jim Martin, SJ wrote that traveling to the Holy Land is reading "the fifth Gospel." Thus, it was with that perspective in mind that brought me to Israel for a full month in the summer of 2017. To see what Jesus saw, to walk where He did, to visit his birthplace and his burial deepened my faith and my love for a shared heritage of belief. I now pray "and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" with a deeper understanding of what that means!

But Shtisel isn't set in the past, the characters live, move and have their being in the City as it is today: ancient and modern, walled and open, diverse and dynamic. My travels to Jerusalem brought me to the very neighborhood where the Shtisel family resides. Adrian, my group leader loved the Geula neighborhood. She taught us about this community and equipped me with eyes to see their way in the world. It was indeed mysterious, unique, singular and beautiful. I understand why it is the perfect setting for this program.

to know Kive is to love Kive

I believe the program Unorthodox raises questions that are far different than the ones that spawn from Shtisel. Many a viewer of Unorthodox is left with the sense that orthodoxy is extremism and/or that the two are synonymous. And in today's world extremism is viewed as something we must avoid all all costs. I don't think it's that simple. One program and one perspective, though valuable and affective doesn't make anyone an expert on a way of living, a tradition that has been followed, a faith that is practiced.

Unpacking the Immense Popularity of Shtisel captures what Shtisel does offer. Beinart writes, "Shtisel’s combination of radical particularity and radical universality lies at the core of its appeal. At Temple Emanu-El, Aloni quoted a fan who told him, “I’m a Norwegian Christian, and watching Shtisel makes me long for my childhood in Geula.”

Through Shtisel, the viewer is invited to both appreciate and question the practices, attitudes, traditions, norms, expectations of this ultra orthodox community. I found this to be a wonderful exercise by which to compare and contrast my own faith and its  culture. While some things stretched and challenged me, I also felt a tender appreciation and sense of wonder.  I still do.

And so while we are at it, I would like to conclude with a short video REVERENCE from the Jewish Film Institute. While Shtisel tells the story of a family that nominally assimilated today's world, in Reverence, we are brought to understand the meaning of newfangled kippahs (the Hebrew word for skull cap) branded with pop culture icons and sports logos is dissected. It is a given for viewing in Sports and Spirituality. And if Kive wears a Giants kippah in Season 3, I'll show Shtisel too... ENJOY!

I'd be happy to talk about Shtisel on my podcast @FaithFondue every week. But you can here it as part of the Spiritual Stew here!

Photo Credits
Season 1
Season 2
Akiva aka Kive

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Daniel Begovich of Stanford Men's Basketball and What Happens When Two Words Stand In Your Way

It isn't uncommon for athletes—or anyone for that matter to have a personal motto. Wayne Gretzky said "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take" So true. Henry Russell "Red" Sanders— not Vince Lombardi—professed "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." I'm sure in the late '80s mine was "Just do it." Thank you Nike and thank you Bo Jackson. You knew, even then that we shouldn't put off for tomorrow what we can do today.

As much as I love a good motto, I am intrigued by one near and dear to the heart of a former student, Daniel Begovich. Daniel, now a senior at Stanford is profiled by Cardinal Athletics because his story is one that needs to be shared, seen and heard. 

In this nine minute video Daniel "shares what Stanford means to him and his family as well as his journey from team manager to a member of the team for Stanford Men's Basketball." Promoted on Twitter, @GoStanford wrote

  • A journey from manager to team member.
  • A jersey number to honor his late father.
  • And a simple message for others: "𝐃𝐨𝐧'𝐭 𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐭."

According to Daniel, the don’t quit story goes back a long way. He said, "my dad was inspired by fellow Cal student athlete, starting QB Joe Roth who lived by those words as he battled cancer while playing football and continuing school. Look up his story I’m sure you’ll appreciate it." Don't Quit is the title of a movie about Roth's life. I can't wait to watch.

I love this photo because Daniel and Neal are always among the first to stand and cheer for their teammates. Caught in the act!

Daniel's motto, "Don't Quit" are words you have probably heard before: They certainly characterize his story and the stories of many others. Inspiring—yes. Unique—probably not. So what, right?

Daniel added, "When my father passed, I learned that he was inspired by the saying  Don't Quit and that poem. When he passed away I told myself I was going to play college basketball in his honor and those two words got in my way."

In life, we tend of think of things that get in our way as inconvenient, a hassle, a barrier or a hurdle. It is rare for me to think of anything that has gotten in my way as something good. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized he was on to something. Many have been, some can be!

If a motto is to have some teeth to it, at some point it must move beyond words on a wall, a quote on a poster or bi-line on our Twitter profile. For athletes, such words needs to be encountered and challenged. They ought to bring us to a place where we are forced to consider Do I really believe what I claim to?  They should help us determine Is this motto something I can and do live by?

There is so much that is so special to me about Daniel., and that's another profile for another time. But, I would like this post to rest at his story, his motto and what he has taught me, the least of which is what Sholom Alechem meant when he wrote "When the heart is full, the eyes overflow." 

Though I already knew much of the story you see in this video, I watched with a full heart and eyes overflowing with tears—both happy and sad. And in it, I saw what you will see: a man who offers his family, friends, teammates, Stanford fans and the world a reminder not only of hope, resilience, sacrifice, faith, hard work, but what a person can do when they let something stand in their way.

It's not often that a high school teacher gets to teach a student's siblings. I was lucky and got to teach Joe, Daniel and Neal—Sports and Spirituality!

Photo Credits
Daniel and Neal
Don't Quit
Great teammate