The other day someone asked me if writing this blog daily was difficult. I asked the person for clarification. “Don’t you run out of gratitude ideas?” My response was, “Absolutely not. In fact, it is the opposite. I only have 30 days and there is so much to be grateful for and ways to express it.”
Gratitude includes ideas, thoughts, words, and ideas that focus your mind on abundance. While I have a plan for each day, I sometimes alter the plan based on mood, world events, and Vikings football games. I worry that I will leave out important people, ideas, thoughts, and things in this challenge. For instance, today’s post will focus on a very specific group of people for whom I am deeply grateful. This doesn’t mean I am not grateful for others. If you are reading this, I am grateful for your support. Even if you don’t read this, I am grateful for you. If you made someone’s life better today, I am grateful for you. If you play for the Minnesota Vikings, I am grateful for you. Get the point?
But today is about special groups. I have been fortunate to have been a part of many special groups in my life. Today I want to focus on a group that has been a great source of support, joy, and pride over the last few years.
I started going to Augie Volleyball games many years ago when my youngest son was still in elementary school. It was a way to spend time with him and support my students. Over the years, my attendance became more frequent, I became somewhat of a super fan, and rarely missed a home game. I still have no idea what happens. I cannot tell the difference between a 6-2, 5-1, or 10-4 scheme. I don’t understand blocking or defensive schemes. But it is an exciting sport to watch. But I digress..
Four years ago, I agreed to teach a class that included freshman volleyball and soccer players. In my 16 years at Augustana, this was my favorite class. All the students in that class are amazing and have a special place in my heart (I hope they all read that sentence). All are going to do great things in this world.
However, the freshman volleyball players chose to take another class with me. In the class, I hoped to focus on Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. I loved the students in the class. Notably, the class holds the record for the most pizza fines. However, it was my least favorite class ever for two reasons. First, the class was forced to “pivot” online at the beginning of the pandemic. Second, it was full of unnecessary academic oversight and bureaucracy. But again, I digress.
This gratitude post is about the Augie Volleyball team. They are an amazing group. I am particularly grateful for the six who were a part of the best and worst classes in my academic career. It is no coincidence that I was wearing an Augustana Volleyball hoodie when I made a decision to change my life two years ago. I am appreciative of how hard these players work both on and off the court. They inspire me. Three teammates will graduate this year. One will become a nurse, another is going into marketing, and one will transition into a management or marketing role. I can’t wait to see how they change the world.
Three of the original six will play another season (Covid gave students an extra year if they wanted). Yet, “the group” played their last game on Friday night. It wasn’t the result I hoped for. The night before, the team defeated the number 2 team in the nation in a five set thriller. It was the second time this season they beat a top-five team. When they played at their best, it was magical. Over the years, I have enjoyed all of the players and teams. But as discussed above, this team is special.
The picture attached to this post is serendipitous (or fate). As background, in recent years I have visited one of the first practices for many of the fall sports. When I stopped by volleyball this year, they were taking their team pictures. Both the photographer and the team suggested I pose with many of the players (the freshman were wondering who the heck is this old guy and why is he taking pictures with the team?￼) This picture is something I will cherish. I am so grateful for this program, the players, and the coaches involved.
The challenge today is to think about a special group of people (not your family). What makes this group special? Why are you grateful for this group? Reach out to all, most, or some of the group and express your gratitude.