All this blocking and being an offensive lineman took me to the beginning of my adult life. My last play took place in some suburban German town in 1995 when I was 24 years old. I had known that this was my final time ever donning a uniform and helmet and I felt like I was ready for it. After 14 years of blocking, I was leaving Germany, looking at my life and ready for a new chapter and a new direction. Football did a lot for me. It paid for my college, gave me an identity, connected me with my wife, and left me with some lessons that I would not really grasp until much later.
It is many of these lessons which I am thinking about now.
Fast forward a bit in life, I got married to that wonderful woman I met because of football and prepared to start raising a family. I had more than a passing thought about “if we have some boys, what kind of football player will they be? A lineman like me or maybe something with a little more glory”.
Well, life is full of curveballs and we ended up with two wonderful daughters and no football in our future.
As parents, we did what everyone does… put them in as many activities as you can. Softball, theater, dance and more were all attempted. For my oldest daughter, we never quite knew what she would settle on, and then slowly it came to be.
She BECAME a volleyball player.
My younger daughter is heading down a different path, one of music and theater which I am so excited to see her in. (I’ll have more about this in a future post.).
For my oldest, we participated in club volleyball leagues, played on the middle school teams and then when high school came around, tried out for the team. She made the team and over four years moved her way to being a starter and a captain. For me, this was a such a journey. She is playing at the school where I teach; Rocklin High… the school in which she grew up around and spent virtually her entire life part of. As I migrated into a football coach, my family came with me. Both my girls and my wife became an integral part of my football and professional life at Rockin High.
But I started to change.
Football felt like it no longer belonged in my day to day life and about 4 years ago I said goodbye to it.
What is interesting is that those lessons of being a lineman I learned so many years ago, were still part of me. Here are just some of them:
You are part of something much bigger than just YOU.
The work you do is hard, often not very fun but necessary towards a greater goal
Take pride in work that others don’t see.
And now here I am watching my daughter have a great senior year standing at the middle of net blocking the balls from the opposing team.
Did you catch that? My daughter is there in the middle... blocking.
Although football was not the future for my children, here was my daughter being the middle blocker, doing the dirty work and getting the job done. This comparison is one I have thought of often… her as a middle blocker and me as a center.
It wasn’t until this last week that got me thinking about all those lessons again. A week ago, about half way through this volleyball season, my daughter suffered a career ending sports injury during a game. After attempting a block, she landed on someone’s foot and broke both her tibia and fibula in a compound fracture.
This was such blow to her. All that she had worked for, all that she had hoped for in her final year of volleyball, just ended. I've coached countless football players who all have had to play their last play. I've seen them weep and get emotional of the finality of it all, but to see your own child experience this in a hospital miles from your home is devastating.
For my wife and I, this entire experience has been tough. Seeing your kid in pain, real pain, and not being able to do anything about it is heartbreaking.
She is recovering now and our family, friends and the Rocklin community have been a huge support to us all and it’s very humbling.
The good news is that her prognosis is 100% recoverable, but it will all just take time. Her leg now has a hard cast, which made her a little more independent and she is now planning on how to get around for homecoming this week!
I usually do don't write much about my personal life here on my Ed Tech blog, but I felt like writing this life update for several reasons.
First, I have been absent in much of what I was once connected with. I used to be more engaged in the ed tech community online and the combination of my change in my career (see my earlier post) and this injury has made me take a few steps back in being a connected educator. I feel guilty and frustrated at times for not being able to do it all; for having some of life’s details fall through the cracks.
So, here is a blanket, all-inclusive “I’m sorry” if an email, a tweet, a vox or some other conversation fell through those cracks I mentioned. But I am grateful those around help me stay focused to “just keep swimming”.
Secondly, it has been a somewhat cathartic to spend some time just writing. Not just about educational strategies or the newest and coolest tech thing that just came out, but being able to reflect where I am in life. I gave keynote address to my district’s teachers last spring and one of the main points I tried to impart was the power of reflection. Therefore, me being able to write this post gives me the venue to reflect.
This is is where I am in the Fall of 2017. Teaching, TOSA’ing, Trying To Stay Connected, and Taking some time to try and take it all in.
Thanks and I hope to reconnect with many of you again soon.