Sometimes, I believe that it’s far too easy to take for granted character traits and skills that others have ingrained in you from a young age, as they seemingly have always been there and were inherited, not taught. However, as I reflect on this idea since Father’s Day is coming up, I can point to numerous personal strengths I’ve picked up due to my upbringing and I want to take a minute to discuss a few. I am forever grateful for the things my father has taught and instilled in me to make me who I am today and believe they’re more than worth reflecting on for Father’s Day this year.
Athetically, I was always a stand-out – or so I thought. I took the time to really think back, not just in the last five years, but back to the third grade, where I was an uncoordinated and overweight child who was socially awkward and had very few friends. Though this was a tough stage early on in my life, the defining moment came when I decided to try out for a soccer team, not even because I liked it, but because I thought my cousins were great and they were trying out as well, so I wanted to be like them.
Tryouts came around, and I made the “D” team, the worst team in the entire club, yet I was delighted. At the beginning of the season, the team was awful, and I was not one of the better players. However, by the end of the season, I was likely the team’s best player, and was no longer overweight, or uncoordinated. Before my reflection on this time in my life, I assumed this improvement was solely due to me growing up and that I was simply getting older, but this truly wasn’t the case. A certain presence on the sidelines was encouraging me and pushing me to be the best I could be every day, and I would not have made it without him.
From day one, my dad was my number one supporter. Every game, he was there on the sidelines, shouting positive encouragement, and occasionally berating a mediocre referee for a blown call or an opposing player for a cheap shot. Also, when the game ended, my dad was always there to speak of the positives and negatives of my game, helping me find ways to better myself each time. This was always great for me, but his influence did not end there.
Growing up, my dad himself was a phenomenal athlete, as he still holds records at his high school thirty years later and also ran track at the Division 1 level. Track is a sport that requires unbreakable determination and grit unlike any other sport, and my dad was the grittiest of the gritty. To this day, he speaks of track with such passion and detail that I can imagine him, barreling down the track, adrenaline pumping, with a look of pure determination on his face, daring any other runner to pass him on HIS track.
From the marathon my dad ran at eleven years old to the hundred mile running weeks he completed on a regular basis, his love for his craft was clear to anyone who took the briefest of glances, and was passed on to me instantly. This passion fueled me to be the best in whatever I wanted to do, not only on the soccer field, but in the classroom as well. I was the child, who, at ten years old, would reflect on a loss of a meaningless soccer game for hours after the game was completed, nearly inconsolable.
Although I wasn’t the most talented player, that undying passion took me to unprecedented levels in my sport due to my sheer hatred of losing. My senior year of high school, very early in the year, I received my first scholarship. Eight months later, and I had six offers to mull over. On top of that, I graduated with a 3.7 GPA, and finished my senior year with a 4.0. My father’s role in these achievements were undeniable, as I see the same determination and passion in myself in competitive situations that I’ve been in awe of for years when speaking to him. I’m proud to have came to be like my father in that respect, and cannot send enough thanks his way.
At the end of the day, my father has given me so much more than just a burning passion and competitive spirit. Another standout trait of my father that I’ve also been gifted is his charitability. My dad teaches and coaches at the same high school he attended years ago and has been there for around thirty years, yet still goes at his daily tasks like it is his first year.
As a coach, my father will go further than any other coach would even think to in order to see his athletes achieve their goals. I’ve heard countless stories of my father, driving students home when their parents never showed up to pick them up, or buying their cleats and pre-game meals because their families couldn’t afford them.
In one particular case, my dad called the University of Washington head coach nearly thirty times, attempting to get one of his athletes a spot on the team, and was repeatedly denied. Despite this, he was persistent due to his love for sport and helping others succeed, and the coach eventually succumbed to his efforts. His athlete, Mark, ended up being the University of Washington’s best runner for three straight years, and the coach still thanks him for his refusal to take no for an answer to this day. Stories like these are not one-offs, but instead are examples of the millions of amazing things my father has done to help his athletes succeed, always there to lend a hand, just as he was for me.
In addition to this, my dad’s teaching abilities and efforts match his coaching ones, too. My dad chose to teach math support, meaning many of his students have learning disabilities, solely because he loves nothing more than helping students who struggle succeed, as he believes they simply were not in a situation that bred success. He’ll go to the greatest lengths for each student to ensure they can be the best they can be, giving each of them the same level of encouragement and advice that took me to where I am today, and does so each day without faltering.
In one memorable moment, I went to ratemyprofessor.com, interested to see what students thought of my father’s teaching. His rating was five stars out of five stars. I smiled, immediately sending the link over to my father. He texted me back, so excited to see how much his students appreciated his efforts, as it is easy to forget when teaching in a high school full of unmotivated students.
Though this is a brief and seemingly irrelevant anecdote, the five stars meant more to me than just as a teacher. My father was a five-star father to me, turning me into a successful, passionate, and giving human being who is proud to share many traits with the one who raised him. As I continue to mature, I appreciate the traits we share more and more, and decided it was time to share my appreciation with the world. So, thank you, dad, for helping shape me into someone I’m proud to be and for being the positive role model every child would love to have. I’m very blessed to have grown up with you as my dad and never again will I take for granted what you’ve taught me. Happy Father’s Day.