Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Open letter to family, friends, and Gamecock fans

Dear SC Gamecock fans, family and friends:

Congratulations to the baseball team for making it to the College World Series again this year. I’m sorry that you lost to Arizona, but it was a well fought battle! I’m so proud of you, to be a Gamecock fan, and your ability to showcase the pride, humility and sportsmanship a team should have in college sports.

Starting July 1, I’m going to change sides. I’m so sorry, but I have to cheer against you for at least one game or several games a year. As a sports fan, it’s going to be the hardest day and years of my life. I’ve been raised as a Gamecock fan my whole life. My father has two master’s degrees from SC, my oldest brother is an undergraduate of SC and graduate from MUSC, and my middle brother received his medical degree from SC. I got my master’s degree from SC. However, as any true sports fan knows, you have to pull for your undergrad.

My undergraduate degree is from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Yes, the other Tigers! I thought by heading to the Big 12, I would be spared the hardship of pulling against SC! For the four years at Mizzou, we played against other SEC teams and I cheered for MIZ-ZOU! I went to Clemson and pulled for the Mizzou Tigers. That was a horrible game because we lost 62-9 in 2000. The sportscasters called us the high school football team from Missouri. It was bad. But, I stayed and cheered for my Tigers.

The first time I had to choose between SC and Missouri was the 2005 Independence Bowl. When the bowl selection committee announced that they were playing each other, I received five emails from my Missouri friends in the first 24 hours. They all asked me “Who are you pulling for?” At first, I was going to pull for SC, but I had to pull for my undergrad. I had nine people at my house pulling for SC, and I was the lone Missouri fan. Missouri came back to beat SC, and I was excited for my Tigers, but I was hurting that SC lost.

A couple of years ago, the rumors started that Missouri would be going to be Big 10, which I was really happy with! We would leave Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and the rest of the Big 12 behind. I would have had another reason to pull against Michigan and Ohio State. However, those plans fell through. So, I believed that the drama was over. Missouri would stay in the Big 12 and work at beating the teams in the Big 12. We could beat Oklahoma for our first Big 12 championship in football.

Then, my world started to crumble. Talk started that Missouri would move to the SEC. I really, really didn’t want them to come to the SEC because of my allegiance to you, SC Gamecocks. I didn’t want to have to pull against you.  All of my friends in the DC-area were happy and thrilled, but I couldn’t share in their excitement. They all looked at me and asked, “Who are you going to pull for?” I said Missouri with a long face.

I prayed that Missouri would be placed in the West, so SC would only have to play them every three years. That would really help with my childhood team. I wanted Texas A&M in the East. Missouri could play Alabama, Auburn and the rest of the West teams, and I would be okay with that. I was praying for that to happen. However, that day didn’t come. They were placed in the East. They would have to play SC every year. I’ve been dreading July 1 for awhile.

However, I started to change my way of thinking. With Missouri in the East, I will only have another reason to cheer against Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. When Missouri plays Clemson, then I can pull for Mizzou!
I’m trying to look at the bright side. In September, I’ll be in Columbia pulling for Mizzou! But, I want you to know that I’ll be pulling for you, too! (Inside of course) I’m working on an outfit that shows how much I love both teams. It’s going to be fun, bold, and shows my sports fanaticism.

When I was a child, I always loved watching the Gamecocks play! In 1984, my cousin, her friends, and her future husband, all came to SC for the UGA game. They had an extra ticket. They picked my brother, who wasn’t a huge fan to go. I was so disappointed. Perhaps, it was because I was five and he was ten. The only thing that made it better was that SC won and my brother smiled all the way home. My Georgia cousins came home unhappy!

Back in the mid-80’s, I used to go to all the games with my oldest brother as his “date,” and I watched Sterling Sharpe and Todd Ellis play. What a great team! I loved Sterling and I followed him to the Green Bay Packers. I watched him play every game, including the hit that ended his career. When I meet people from Wisconsin, they always ask me why I’m a Packers fan. It’s because of SC and Sterling. I’m now a proud owner (one share).

As Missouri enters the SEC, please know that I will always be a SC Gamecock fan! I just won’t be a fan when you play them. Thank you for all the great years so far and the ones to come! I’m going to be a proud and happy Missouri and SC fan in the next few days! Both of my schools will be in the best conference in the world! Couldn’t ask for anything more! Go Gamecocks and Go Tigers!  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

Everyday I’m truly thankful for my father, my family, and the 11 years my mom raised me. They both instilled in me to be truthful, loving person. They stressed education and following our passion in life. I remember in ninth grade, I was in Geometry. I remember sitting with my dad for up to two hours a night working on my math homework. I just didn’t get proofs. I dislike them and still do. My dad saw my frustration, and said that no matter what grade I brought home that he would be okay with it because I tried. He knew I wasn’t getting it. At that moment, I knew I needed to focus on my passion for English and history.

Before going to college, my dad gave me some great advice about working. He always stressed that I should show up to work early and never complain about staying late, which I applied in all my jobs. He told me stories about his job, and how it paid off in the long run. I’ve passed this advice to young professionals and college students. In each of my jobs, that advice has paid off. My co-workers noticed my work ethic and know that if I’m late, it’s for a good reason. In my first job after college, I used to show up to work 30 minutes early. I used to talk about football with the CFO. One day, I was running late because of an accident on the highway. I called and told them and they didn’t blink an eye. At the same job, I worked late for a project and they let me off the next day.

Everyday my dad’s advice or mannerisms show up in little ways. When my friends visit and they head home, I always ask them to text me when they get home. I want to know that they made it home safely. Last weekend when I was in SC, I asked my cousins to text me when they got home to Atlanta. I admit—I may have been a little annoyed when I had to do this in college and high school, but I understand my dad’s thought process. It’s all about knowing we were home safe. It gave him a peace of mind. My dad told me stories that his father told him the same thing (minus the texting). My grandfather told my dad that he wouldn’t understand until he had kids, and he admits that he was right.

Looking back, I’m glad that I didn’t complain too much because I’m doing the same thing with my friends and family. Friends, it’s all my dad’s fault. Blame him. :-) Just saying.

I know some of my best friends and family members have lost their dads, so today is a tough day. I feel your pain on Mother’s Day. But, what we all should be thinking about today and every day is how they live inside of us every day. Think about the advice, fun times, and moments you had and how will you share this with the special people in your life. Although Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and other holidays have become so commercial, it’s important to spend time with family and friends and celebrate life! Life is too short to focus on the negative things. Stop looking at things half-empty.  

I’ve heard friends say they had a specific life planned and it hasn’t happened the way they planned it, including me. But, I’m a true believer that God has a plan for all of us. Dad, thank you for everything you have done for me, my brothers, and our family. Your friends admire your courage, strength, and love you have bestowed on us and the people around you. You are an inspiration! Hopefully, I can follow in your footsteps.