Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Why Go to the Gym? But Three Reasons....

I returned to the gym for the first time since March 2020. Unless you consider rearranging furniture and carrying groceries on par with pumping iron, I took a 15 month hiatus from lifting weights. I didn't want to work out with a mask on. Furthermore, until I got the vaccine I had some reservations about working out indoors. So when California reopened on June 15, I was ready, It was time. 

I was excited to be back at the Olympic Club in downtown San Francisco. I loved seeing so many familiar faces and committing to a new fitness routine. As I exited the sixth floor and descended the stairs (I always take them on the way down!) I found myself asking the question "Why should I return the gym? Why should anyone come back?" I raise these questions because I think they are worth considering. The number of people who now have their own weight sets, the families who created informal workout space in their garage and those who established new and creative ways to stay fit are significant. I got by for over a year without touching a single kettle bell. But just two workouts in I have more than a few answers. Here are but three. I imagine you have your own.

1. A Culture of Encounter
At the gym, I encounter people of all ages, physical abilities and sizes. Being on summer break, I arrive long after those who work market hours or who still WFH. This crowd skews a little older...but not everyone! No matter. 

Those who show up at the gym are engaging in an activity that promotes their physical and mental health. They push themselves, they keep their focus and go for it. I truly believe inspiration begets inspiration. This is certainly what I get.

Father Joe Capura, CSC wrote Pope Francis has made famous the phrase “culture of encounter,” which simply means that I have something good to give to the other person, and the other person has something good to give me. The Holy Father has returned to this phrase over and over again in his addresses and in his writings. 

This is a culture I want to support and promote. Thus, I give a smile to those I encounter. For so long, my smile was hidden. Now, I can offer it to those familiar faces I once saw regularly. Among a few others, it was nice to say "Hey! good to see you!" and truly mean it. 

I noticed one man at the gym was walking with a cane. Dressed in running shorts, sneakers an and a t-shirt, I doubt he has any idea of what he gave me. My own Dad just started using a cane after relying on a walker for the past 14 months. I told my Dad about this man and if I see him again, I think I will thank him for offering something good—his example. 

2. Exposure is a good thing
Certainly, this is the antithesis of any message you have heard in the past 15 months. However exposure can be positive in the form of encountering people—acquaintances and friends as well as media. 

My gym has a number of flat screen televisions high on the wall. It's hard not to look at them in between reps or as I lunge, squat etc. When these TVs feature an exciting game, winning replays or live interviews, I love the ability to watch and workout.

I take what I see. In other words, I do not change the channel. Therefore, I am exposed to what is featured live on ESPN, Golf Channel, etc. At home, I rarely see the TV because it is in my living room; I do not have one in my bedroom, the kitchen etc. Even if I did, I would probably turn to the Today Show!

Therefore, Monday's first round match at Wimbledon was another example of how and why exposure is a good thing. ESPN was airing the first round match of Frances Tiafoe against the number four player in the world. Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Tiafoe—a DMV native— defeated the French Open finalist in straight sets.  I started following one of America's best when I read "A Case for...Frances Tiafoe" in Sports Illustrated seven years ago! The tennis was electric. The American's athleticism and style of play kept me pumped and pumping. I think the only time a lift session has gone that quickly is when I shared the hour with a close friend.

I noted to several people just how big this impending upset was going to be. In the third set, Taifoe took each of his games (on serve) to deuce. I could not muffle my reactions. 

I have grown increasingly skeptical of the efficacy and efficiency of anything I do that qualifies as multi-tasking. However multi-tasking in this form cannot be disputed. Breakfast at Wimbledon revised!

3. Use it or Lose It
I am humbled by just how sore I have been from lifting.
Have I used them in the last 15 months? Sure but not remotely like I once did. Atrophy set in and it's time to rebuild and renew. These aches and pains have led me to reflect on the adage "use it or lose it." I have always believed this is true. 

Many have tried to convince me  that being sore "it's a good thing!" I'm having a hard time subscribing to their school of hard knocks. I feel stiff. Bending and reaching isn't the easiest task and yet every athlete knows that if you keep at it—maintain good form, don't overdue it and work hard—in due time, this feeling won't be so acute. I hope to report back on some success in far less than 15 months from now.

The notion of "use it or lose it" doesn't just apply to physical fitness. Speaking another language and playing a musical instrument are but two examples that verify much more than encounter and exposure are necessary for acquiring a skill, ability or virtue. Engagement is a must. 

In Conclusion
Many in the Church as asking, hoping, praying for and wondering if the faithful will return to our houses of worship. With the evolution of Zoom mass/church services, an avalanche on-line spiritual resources, the personal nature of faith and how powerful a force apathy can be it's easy to see how and why they won't. But much like returning to the gym, I need the culture of encounter, the exposure and the using it so I don't lose it that my parish provides.

There are much more than three reasons to return to Church. I will prayerfully consider these during my next lift session.... 

Photo Credits
Tiafoe defeat
Gym Meme

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Saints, Sacraments and I Came as a Shadow: Brief Insight into John Thompson

A friend recently admitted to me that he doesn't like the idea of saints. "I don't think the Church should get in the business of raising up certain men and women for veneration. It's too political." I have heard gripes about the process and the favor canonization has placed on those in religious communities over lay people before. I could say "The Catholic Church does not make or create saints, but rather recognizes them" but I understand. He isn't the first nor is he the last person to share such sentiments with me. 

I have always loved learning about the saints; I consider them to be treasures in the spiritual life. Listen to Faith Fondue, my podcast and you will hear Haley, my partner, talk regularly about her 2021 resolution of getting to know more about these holy men and women. She has made a point to recognize their feast days and prayerfully ask for their intercession. Her enthusiasm encourages me to do the same. 

While I appreciate the saints, I'm not sure I need them to nourish and sustain my faith. I do however need sacraments. Sacraments—both lower and upper case—are visible signs of God's invisible grace. They can be seen, touched, heard and smelled. Sacraments are formal and informal,. They are celebrated in a community and mediate God's mercy, love and peace. My faith deepened when I came to learn and see the many graces in my life—from unsuspecting people or unexpected places—are sacraments. To see the world through this lens is to have the Catholic imagination.

This vision equipped me to see the cover of the autobiography of John Thompson, "I Came as a Shadow" in a sacramental way. My former colleague and friend Bill, told me that the faculty at Georgetown Prep decided to read this best-selling book about the late Georgetown men's basketball coach this summer. After reading Confronting Racism in Basketball and the Jesuits: The Extraordinary Life of Georgetown’s John Thompson, a book review in America and listening to the ESPN Daily podcast, The Life of Legendary Georgetown Coach John Thompson Jr. I took notice. I shared this news with many other Jesuit educators. I wondered what they thought. I was excited to hear what Bill--a fellow Religious Studies teacher and coach would say about the book. But a few chapters into it, he wrote

I did not know that towel was a tribute to his mom who always had a towel over her shoulder while she worked and cleaned and fed her family.  She was a trained teacher with a college degree but could only clean houses. 
That towel of which Bill speaks is featured on the cover. I have no idea if Coach Thompson always donned the same one or grabbed  from the locker room the first towel he could find. No matter. That towel is a sacrament. With the Catholic imagination, I recognize that towel as a visible sign of God's invisible grace. Based on the little I know, I understand that it honors the love and sacrifice of a mother for her family. Instead of the shame or embarrassment, challenge and strife that her job may have brought with it, Coach Thompson raised it for all to see. I find it to be regal and meaningful. It's sacramental.

Thompson was a practicing Catholic who was deeply devoted to Our Lady. He was so much more than just a basketball coach. He was a father, mentor, and lifelong advocate for  justice and equality. I won't go so far as to say he is a Saint, BUT I do believe that saints are sacraments. Virtuous and outstanding men and women are visible signs of God's invisible grace. I guess I need them, too.

Photo Credits
John Thompson 
Coach and Patrick Ewing

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

SWAG from the 2021 US Open

Swag. No athlete or sports fan is a strangers to it. Some of us want the stuff that's handed out for participating in the 10k race or for attending opening day at the minor league game. Others walk away—hands free—and don't look back. 

I always thought swag was a Yiddish term. I wondered, is it "swag or schwag?" says that "Swag refers to valuable goods, often obtained illegally. Just because your friend has a bag of swag does not make him or her a pirate (although the patch and wooden leg might say otherwise)." Generally meaning “loot, booty, or plunder,” swag is the stuff in the bags of excited party-goers and plunderers alike." But according to my friend Cort, swag is actually an acronym. S.W.A.G. stands for for stuff we all get. And so it's with that spirit that I would like to share the S.W.A.G. I acquired by attending both the Friday and Saturday rounds of the 121st United States Open golf championship. 

As a sports fan who enjoys good optics and analysis, the live experience of watching professional golf is limiting at best. You can only see so much. I can't tell you how many times I have said, "I lost it" after a player hit an excellent drive. During the match, one must commit to following but a few players or sitting at certain tee boxes or greens for the view. So why go? or rather, What is the swag? The stuff we all get?

I would be remiss if I did not admit, fans got to see a whole lot more of the course and the players. Why? According to US Open crowds limited despite California reopening, "The U.S. Open attendance is expected to top out at about 13,000 each day, barely 25% of the numbers at Torrey Pines when it previously hosted the tournament in 2008." The 2020 US Open at Winged Foot, had no fans in attendance. 

I was able to attend with a long time friend and college classmate, Cort and his daughter. Upon entering  and exiting the walkway next to the 18th green, I savored the energy, the feelings of anticipation and excitement buzzing from the crowd. It wasn't unfamiliar, it had just been a while! 

People were looking at who was coming up the fairway and at one another. Sans mask, it was fun to see friends and acquaintances reconnecting—shaking hands, checking in, departing with hugs. We were about to head over to the merchandise tent when Cort took notice. "Anne, there's John Lynch, do you want to meet him?" "Where? " I said. Sure enough, the General Manager of the 49ers and 2021 NFL Hall of Fame inductee stood chatting with a friend—accessible and available. In terms of swag, meeting one of your favorite leaders in sports is as good as it gets.

The swag provided by the setting of Torrey Pines is nearly restorative. The trees after which it is named, the canyons nestled between holes, the parachute gliders floating in the sky and over the Pacific make for an incredible backdrop. Given that there is time and space between the pairings /groupings of golfers, the fans can't help but take in the ocean view and vistas that run parallel to the course.  Post US Open, I hope folks know what I have described here truly is swag. Torrey Pines is a public golf course.

Although not a John Rahm fan, he certainly made it exciting. Congratulations to the victor

Whether it's swag in the form of a free shirt, a magnet, sticker or water bottle. Or, swag redux in the form of improved spectator conditions, a deepened appreciation for the roar of the crowd,  or a recharge from the beauty of a place and space the best swag—the stuff we all get par excellence are the memories. 

I am so thankful for the memories I now have of my fifth US Open, of the start of summer 2021 and with my long time friend Cort. My classmate from Notre Dame, I met Cort on the first day of living in Farley Hall. A native of San Diego, Cort stopped by room 213 because one of my roommates hailed from Torrey Pines. Cort and I have attended countless football games, many concerts and innumerable masses together. We both taught in the ACE program and have shared many of life's ups and downs. I have played golf with him on the North and South course of Torrey Pines. and his knowledge of the venue was outstanding. I shouldn't have been, but I was blown away by the number of people he knew in the crowd. It's quite possible that Cort has never met a stranger—he has a way of making everyone feel welcome, known and included. Might be because he was "Born on Sunday," the title track of his next album. Attending the Open with his 13 year old daughter was an added bonus; sporting events are always more enjoyable when shared with a young person's perspective.  I went to the 2021 U.S. Open because he invited me to join him. His hospitality was's safe to say I left San Diego with a swag bag that overflows. 

Next time you hit a live sporting event, I encourage you to consider the S.W.A.G. that is given and received. Priceless....

Photo Credits
John Rahm
Torrey Poster

Thursday, June 17, 2021

We Are Not Forgotten: Remembering Mike

Golf has the ability to connect young and old, male and female, living and those who are no longer with us. I was reminded of this truth—once again—by participating in the WGANC two-day Stroke Championship. With my summer vacation now underway, I was particularly excited do play in this tourney because I had not played at Claremont—the home course of a friend—Mike Donovan. Mike died on April 30, 2018 but his spirit and his legacy live on. Golf has a special way of doing that. Here's the story.

I met Mike many years ago through one of his closest and dearest friends, Peggy. A devout Catholic and golfer, Mike was no stranger to adversity—having lost his home in the Oakland fire and in battling cancer for 23 years. As written in his obituary, "In response to his own inability to swallow because of his cancer treatments, Mike co-founded the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders to help others with the same dysphagia. While living in Oakland, he volunteered as a Basketball Coach for Seventh and Eighth Grade boys in Oakland's inner city. He truly was a man for others, even as he faced his continued cancer treatments." In fact, his ability to speak was compromised due to those chemotherapy treatments, but Peggy always understood what he said. Theirs was a special friendship to witness and share. 

Mike still communicated volumes by his gentle and warm presence. He had the Arnold Palmer syndrome—making you feel like you were the only person in the room. He smiled and laughed through his Irish eyes and witty retorts; he let his clubs do most of the talking. I never got to play with Mike at Claremont, but Peggy sure did. Mike was unofficially the mayor of CGCC, not to mention the club champion (3x). This title means that club members take notice when you come to play. The first tee, near the 19th hole, puts added pressure on that moment. When Peggy came to play with Mike, he swung easy. Peggy rose to the occasion. We love that memory. When Mike died, Claremont flew the flag at half mast in his honor.

Shotgun start at Claremont Country Club

In February 2016 Peggy, Mike, another friend and me spent the weekend in Carmel and attended the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, two days in a row. Upon the conclusion of a weekend of great golf, outstanding weather, and wonderful companionship, I said that I didn't think I could go back. I wasn't convinced that anything could top the experience I had. Less than a year later, Mike got sick again. We had high hopes we would be able reconvene but it was not to be. I have returned to the Pro-Am several times and it's different. Still, I cherish those memories and how special our time together was.

On my drive to Claremont, I prayed for those who were touched by Mike's life and for those who still grieve.I recalled the stories that were shared in the eulogy following the mass of Christian burial at Saint Theresa's. I would like his family and friends to know, I share his story with my students even today.

Walking up to the club house, I thought of the celebration of his life that took place in that beautiful space and the sight of his close friends huddled on that patio overlooking the first and eighteenth holes. During my round, I thought many times of how he might have played certain holes and what advice he might have given to me (he was super encouraging). Though I had a bit of a heavy heart, I played great. I think Mike made sure I would.

At the conclusion of the day, I approached the General Manager and head pro who were standing together, near the putting green. I said "thank you for a great day. A friend Mike Donovan was a member here and loved this place." "Mike Donovan!" said the GM. "What a wonderful man. That one still hurts." I replied "the only time I have been here prior to today was after his funeral. I wanted to play in this tournament because I never got to play here with him and I knew it was very special." He responded "thank you for remembering Mike. Thank you for telling us that."

Although it wasn't Claremont, I did get to play golf with Mike at his other club, on the Ocean course at Monterey Peninsula GC. Mike went out of his way to make sure I got a hat as a memento from the round. Anytime I wear it and someone asks about the old logo—I get to share a little bit about Mike.

Someone recently said to me, "For someone that doesn’t get paid to play golf you care way too much about it!" His words are both inconsiderate and obtuse. I'm glad I care about golf—it has a way of connecting us to people and to places that emerge from the ordinary to extraordinary. It reminds us that we are not forgotten. We can participate and play in honor of those we love and with those we care about. I should say I look forward to talking about my round on Monday with Mike...but I already did. I believe in the communion of saints. Mike is just one more example of my conviction.

Photo Credits
WGANC website--Claremont

Monday, June 14, 2021

Coaching Will Ruin Your Life: Why We Do It Anyway

Ask me why I still coach after twenty-plus years of working in high school athletics and my dear friend Haley comes to mind as one answer. Haley is a former colleague; she is a huge sports fan, wife, mom, teacher and true soul sister. Like me, she runs a varsity program. Unlike me, she manages a team of 30 young women on a team sport. Golf is different. It is an individual sport that high schools and colleges offer as a team experience. I carry nine girls on varsity and eighteen in the program. In spite of our differences, Haley and I meet in the middle. We unpack the challenges of coaching the female high school athlete. We discuss the fight that we face to give female sports the recognition they deserve. Together we have come to determine at some point, somewhere we want to offer a talk....or write an article...entitled "Coaching will ruin your life: Why we do it anyway." And, finishing the 2020-2021 school year's golf season might just add a new twist. 

Coaching high school sports will ruin your life. During the season, you can kiss your weekends goodbye. You never quite know if you are doing enough. Should I have scheduled a few more scrimmages? Why not organize a Catholic school tournament? Did we practice this part of the game enough? Why can't they do x? How can we get better at y? And when will z stick? There is always some administrative task that has yet to be done. Though you may have the transportation needs and dismissal times published, you forgot to get the uniform orders in as early as you had hoped. Your weekdays are long, your game days longer. It is never safe to assume anything. For example, as soon as I started to think how well my team was getting along, one girl confessed to mean girl syndrome on the team. This floored me. Just the other day, I shared with another golfer some of the drills my team practices. She said "wow, you really plan stuff." Yes I do. If I don't, my life is doubly ruined!

But this post is not the story of the ruination of my life since athletics reopened in the state of California due to COVID. When the CIF announced that girls' and boys' golf would begin on February 8, we were ready and excited. When I saw that the league championships would take place in May and the sectional championship would happen in June, I thought "ok." So much of life this past year was TBD. I figured the story of this season was to be determined. And so it was.

Coaching did anything but ruin my life this year. In fact, it was one of the most enjoyable parts of it. I wouldn't be a teacher or a coach if I didn't enjoy spending time with young people and this season allowed me to do something I once took for granted. I got to spend time, in person, with the same girls, participating in a game we love. With the restrictions of COVID came new found freedoms. We met at the golf course, and girls came when they could. If they couldn't make practice or a match we worked around it. This wasn't seamless or without hassle or mistakes, but it worked.

We welcomed to our team two seniors—one who quit the year before due to academic demands. The other was a young woman who had talked about playing golf—a lot—but played volleyball in the past. I heard about this as her classroom teacher and invited her to try out. Too many seniors take a step away from participation in high school sports. We are so grateful she didn't! 

Their kindness, positive attitudes and talent galvanized into a team chemistry that shaped our team for the better. Whereas teammates are naturally competitive with one another, the affect of these seniors buoyed the camaraderie and playfulness of the crew. For example, after one round, one player was noting how terrible she played because of her three-putt. One of my seniors said "well would you rather three putt or three chip to get on the green." That's a good teammate.

We finished second in the league and played at the Central Coast section championship, Wednesday June 9—nearly two weeks after classes resumed. We were told by the league commissioners that players would need to leave right after their round and there would not be an awards ceremony. No one questioned these protocols; girls' golf in the Spring season is already an anomaly.

What materialized could not be scripted. Because we qualified as a team, my players were in the final six groupings. Upon finishing, girls sat on the grass—the 18th green at Laguna Seca Golf Ranch has a natural amphitheater around it— and waited as their teammates came through. As each girl came in, their teammates wanted to know how they did. This is always a tense moment because their is the inner-pressure to best everyone in the field is coupled with a true desire to support your teammate! With school out and the season over, we felt no pressure to go anywhere or be anything other than who we were at the moment.

One player was fighting back tears. Another girl saw this and said "it's ok, I cried earlier." Another admitted that she cries all the time. One added that she wears waterproof mascara because she knows she will cry. When one girl finished, her dad gave her a big hug and told her how proud he was of his daughter. The girl sitting next to me said "I wish my Dad was like that." Her tears began. We continued to watch and share stories of the round. At one point I told a girl that I cried when I realized what time I needed to leave my home to get to the course on time. She smiled saying "see Coach, you cry too." I gathered the team together for one final meeting. I congratulated them, I thanked them, and told them I loved them. This moment however was shortened by a player's parent telling us to hurry up. They were giving away awards.

This impromptu, informal gathering was unexpected. One of my players earned a medal for finishing fourth overall. An outstanding teammate, we were overjoyed for her award. Moments later, our team was awarded with the third place trophy. We ran up for our hardware, embraced and celebrated the moment. Team pictures, selfies, high fives and hugs are what we will remember—tears and all.

In a non-pandemic season, I would drive the team to the match and most of their parents would pick them up and we would depart separately. The team van would be empty and I would begin the haul back to campus. This year, I left as I came—alone in my Jeep—but full of gratitude for the season that almost wasn't.

I turned on the radio, and I started to cry. Overcome with emotion, exhaustion, those feelings of self doubt and uncertainty, coupled by the others of thankfulness and knowing I gave my very best. So many tears.

I reached out to Haley to share all that I was feeling. She simply said, "Tears in or after a season only make it official. So happy for you!!" 

Once again, coaching ruined my life....and I'm so grateful.

NB: and to women in particular. If you are thinking of coaching high school sports, please talk to me and to Haley. We have a lot to share.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Lessons from The Good Life and the 2021 US Women's Open

In her philosophy class, What Makes a Life Good?, Dr. Meghan Sullivan contends "there are some things in life that we just can’t outsource to other people." In other words, only you should offer an apology to someone you have hurt, you must be the one to go on the awkward first date with someone you are interested in dating. and, the only person to speak to a therapist about their own you. Sullivan offers these examples because she also believes that determining what makes a life good—the essential question of the course— is something you have to do for yourself. I asked my students what they thought. When I found little to no disagreement, I then asked "What else ought you do for yourself?" Someone replied "write a thank you note." "Interesting," I said. "And is a thank you note essential for living a good life?" My student responded, "maybe not the note itself, but expressing gratitude in an intentional or formal way is." I agree.

The champion, Yuka Saso tees off on the iconic 18th hole of the Lake Course
I recall this snapshot of my Moral Issues class because I find myself in need of expressing gratitude. And, I don't know to whom I should address my note—but I am thankful to have been a part of the 76th United States Women's Open that took place from June 3-6, 2021 on the Lake Course at the Olympic Club. It was the sixth time the club has hosted a US Open Championship and the first time it has welcomed the women's tourney. I will carry memories from this entire week with me for a lifetime.

When asked to work as the co-chair for junior volunteers in September 2019, the plan was to target young people, especially female golfers—to work "inside the ropes" next to the best women in the world. Like so much of life since March 2020, the USGA worked overtime to pivot and find a way to keep young people involved. I'm glad they did--both for my sake and for those young members who were able to contribute to the success of the event! 

Thank you to my co-chair Marissa and to the crew of young Olympians who showed up Monday through Sunday. They sorted through thousands of range balls, separating between Titlelist Pro VI, Titlelist Pro VX and Callaway and bagged them into a highly coveted* US Open 2021 red bags. They placed the sign placards behind each player on the range so the crowd would know who was warming up, shagged balls on the 18th green practice area and made it all work. 

There were so many highlights from the week, but one in particular was having my team—Saint Francis girls' golf in attendance on Thursday, Day 1 of the Open. These young women really know the game as both players and as fans. They were in awe of seeing the players up close and personal. They analyzed their swings, their putting, their bags and their outfits ;-) At one point, the commentary between two of my players was so good, I suggested that they get into the announcer's booth. Should I warn Kay Cockerill or Morgan Pressell now? My team was  slightly star struck, when they realized we were sitting next to several members of the Stanford women's golf team. They thanked Cal Coach, Nancy McDaniel for her Confidence Drill and they were able to take photos with several players. Go Lancers!

Two of my players with Emma Talley

My team wasn't the only enthusiastic bunch on the property. It was great to see so many fans of all ages—both men and women, teens and kids excited about the women's game. The tourney offered several great story lines with the return of past champions: the Pink Panther—Paula Creamer and new mom, Michelle Wie-West. One of the amateurs—Megha Ganne who has yet to complete her junior year of high school (and is already committed to Stanford) made her way into the final pairing. She is poised and gracious, spirited and spunky. I love that she beckoned the crowd to roar for more (after making a putt for bogey....awesome) and that she conceded that although she was a crowd favorite, her caddy--a long time member might be the bigger draw. Unfortunately, Lexi Thompson—who was once the youngest golfer to play in the USWO at the age of 12—lost the lead and finished in third. The Lake Course has long been known as the "graveyard of champions." Thompson proved it to be no misnomer. Though part of the story of the 2021 USWO, none of that should take away the accomplishment or the congratulations due to Yuka Saso of Manila, Philippines. Saso captured the championship in a sudden death play off and defeated Nasa Hataoka of Japan.

I kept thinking of the word "hospitality" all week long. To host an event takes incredible preparation, time, energy and sacrifice. Due to COVID, it was unclear whether or not fans would even be allowed in attendance and the volunteer pool was limited to just members. Fortunately, the tourney welcomed limited fans and it all worked because folks worked long shifts many of which required either setting and alarm clock and/or going to bed past one's bed time. We all bared the summer in San Francisco (brutal!) and walked away with fog burn, wind burn, new friends and a deepened appreciation for the club and the game of golf.

As I was talking to two of my players, I realized the man standing near us was none other than Mike Wahn, the longtime commissioner of the LPGA and soon to be CEO of the USGA. I smiled at him, introduced myself and said "I teach about you in my class." I told him about the power of the thank you note—how much I appreciated that he encouraged the LPGA players to write them to sponsors and in turn how this helped to grow the game. He was holding a folder and said "I have a few of them in here." "Caught in the act," I said. That is also something only you can do for yourself. 

What makes a life good? The 2021 USWO reminds me of the answers: friends, service, hard work, inspiration, athletics—golf, teamwork and....gratitude.

Photo Credits
@USWomen'sOpen Olympic Club Instagram