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

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