Just a day after returning home from my adventures on the Big Island of Hawaii, I was on my way to the AVCA Convention and NCAA Women’s final four in Oklahoma City. I dove right back into all things volleyball, starting with a classroom presentation Andrew and I delivered on the ways in which we deal with adversity during the season.
I hadn’t been back to OKC since my dad, Leo, passed away there nearly 15 years ago. I’ll never forget being pulled out of class and called into my high school principal’s office. I was told to head straight home and that my mom would meet me there. My dad was on a business trip in Oklahoma City where he’d had an aneurysm. My mom and I rushed out to see him, but he passed before we arrived. Being there again brought back a lot of memories.
My dad was a hard working, self-made man from humble beginnings. He never let anyone tell him what he could or could not accomplish. When his junior college guidance counselor asked him what he wanted to do, he said he’d like to study engineering at Cal. She replied, “sorry, you should pick something else to study at a smaller school.” Well, he went to Cal anyway, met my mom there and graduated with a degree in electrical engineering. He was independent, athletic and strong-willed. Growing up, he forced me to work with him on his true passion, cars, in my spare time. I hated it so much at the time but now I’m thankful for my comfort level in the otherwise intimidating world of auto repairs. I only wish I’d have paid more attention during those times together. We had a complicated relationship and I always wish we’d have had more time to reconcile some issues, but I’m grateful for the independence, work ethic, self-belief and sense of humor that he instilled in me.