Sunday, October 27, 2013


This past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel with my husband to Northern California, where our high school football team of 30 years ago, was celebrated for winning the all-state Championship game!  The 1983 Football team from El Dorado High School was reunited, Thursday during a dinner event.  Then, Friday night, this team of Champions was honored during the half-time celebration of the varsity game.  Coaches and teammates were reunited.  Though appearances had changed, their hearts and passion for the game and for each other had remained.  These strong young men of yesterday had all gone on to become husbands and fathers, accountants, police officers, business owners, executives, construction workers, coaches and teachers---- all contributing members of society and striving to make each day better than the one before.  5 teammates had passed away, during the past 30 years, and their lives were tearfully remembered.  It was so fun to play the supporting role at this event, and let my husband know I was proud of him too.  I watched the eyes well up of these grown men, as they spoke of their love for each other, their admiration for the coaches, their memories and heartbreak over the 5 who had passed on, and the lessons learned, on and off the field, during those high school years.  And, of these lessons, only a fraction were actual football plays and strategies from the field.
These young men paid tribute to their coaches and team players for believing in them, and for teaching them that anything was possible with a lot of dedication and hard work.  Practice makes perfect, and if it's not perfect, keep practicing!  They spoke of being teenagers and the difficult and intense schedule that they were required to maintain, to be part of the team.  Early morning practices, after-school practices, exhaustion, late night games followed by late night homework.  Day after day, year after year, these young men worked in order to play in the game they loved.  As adults, each and everyone of them has had to face difficulty and challenge of one sort or another.  And, they remarked how during those very hard times, they would often reflect back to those football years and the hard work they put in to be part of this team.  And, if they could survive that, they could push through and survive anything.  Shy men rose and spoke not-so-shy anymore.  Football had given them purpose and life had given them value and voice and they stood and spoke with confidence.  

  I must brag a bit and add, that my husband was also quite the track star, during our high school days.  Though he is very humble, he set some track records that are still posted in the gym and have yet to be surpassed by any other athlete.  
 He was All-Conference for two years as a football player and his name is on a plaque on the Wall of Fame at the football field.  And, he was also Athlete-of-the-Year, an excellent student, and one of our Student Council Presidents.  Very talented!  Full of determination and zeal for anything he pursued.  And, a burning desire to perform wherever and whenever with excellence!  A true Champion!

The afternoon before the reunion dinner event, my husband said he was not sure if he wanted to go.  He suggested just attending the game with the boys and heading home, the following night.  With the ups and downs of life, it is easy to lack confidence and find peace about who and what you have become.  Life's challenges had definitely robbed him of his Champion status, and most days, he felt like anything but a "winner."  It is easy to look back on our lives and discover all the things we did not become and did not accomplish.  For some reason, we seem to see our lists of races we did not win, embedded on the walls of our minds, rather than the many times we crossed the finish line, exhausted and down trodden, but didn't quit.  Immediately following the half-time celebration, we jumped in the car and drove back to Utah, through the night.  With two of our sons, sleeping peacefully in the backseat, we talked and discussed the reunion events.  In the quiet of the night, I asked him what he like the best about getting together with his team.  He loved seeing his teammates and having those feelings of brotherhood fill his heart again.  He loved seeing the coaches and remembering that they believed in him.  He loved listening to the hours of stories and memories shared, which reminded him of being back in the locker room or on the field, making that touchdown, and feeling like a true Champion! He loved walking in the gym of our old alma mater and seeing his name there on the wall, for track records still unbroken-----30 years later, still a Champion! And, he loved sharing all this with his family.
 He loved putting on the jersey and walking onto the field with many of his teammates, knowing there were people in the bleachers cheering for him, just like 30 years ago, because he was and still is a Champion.  When we left the football stadium, my cute husband had an extra spring in his step, an extra dose of confidence and a permanent smile on his face.  As we drove through the darkness, the Champion sitting next to me had a light of confidence about him that I had not seen in years.  The more we drove, the more we talked.  And, the more we talked, the more accomplishments he remembered. Touchdowns he made. Races he won.  And, the more he remembered, the brighter his smile.

 It all seemed so therapeutic and the result--- a returning Champion!  So, I decided to make my own list of Championship accomplishments. I was not an honored athlete, though I loved sports.  I didn't win any races.  So, for my Champion list, I went clear back to 2nd grade, when my self-portrait 

was chosen to hang in the community library, and the honor I felt each time we went, and checked out books, and walked by my masterpiece.  In 7th grade, I won a science award for the Best Design of my machine powered by a can of soda.  Student Council Secretary.  A junior high award for participating in All Sports.  High School chemistry award. Crazy as this list may seem, as I drove, I continued with my Champion List!!  By the time we arrived home, I remembered I was a winner too!!  I decided, we all need to take time and make our Champion Lists!  We have all accomplished things that we are proud of.  Whether we have been selected or honored or not, we are all Champions of one sort or another.  And, remembering an award for my 7th grade soda pop machine reminded me that I was a Champion too.  A Champion is not afraid to fall and get up and run faster!  A Champion will fight through anything!  A Champion never quits!  A Champion was once a contender too.  A Champion requires motivation and hard work, winning is just the end result!  However, the most important attribute of being a champion ------- is believing that you are one.  So, if you fall, get up!  Keep persevering and never quit!  Work hard!  Don't just think Champion---- Be a Champion!!  What's on your Champion List?  Don't let life cause you to forget the races you have won, the teams you have supported, the lives you have touched or the pictures you have drawn.  Make your list! Remember the feeling!  Don't just think Champion--- Be one!  Smile bright! Dream big!  Champions!



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