When I look back at the last 21 years of my life, I am grateful for the person that God has made me into. I am thankful for the people, places, experiences that have made me who I am today. I know that I have found a place that I call home.
My home is in the fly-over states. I’ve called the Midwest, on the prairie in South Dakota’s biggest city, Sioux Falls, home for all 21 years of my life. I lived at a house that was across from a cornfield back in 1991, but now there are other houses, and a golf course across the street. Times have changed, and I have grown older. Yet, I will always take the memories that I have made in the places, and the people I have met with me wherever I go.
I am Second
The biggest relationship I hold dear to my heart is my relationship with God. I am second to my Lord and Savior. I know that I am not home yet; I am living in a temporary home. I am glad I can say hallelujah because death has been overcome and the chains have been undone. I know that when I feel like the world is crashing down on me, I can run to his arms. I can run to my Daddy. I want to be lost in Him. I want to feel at home every day I rise and go to sleep knowing that I have a God in Heaven watching over me, protecting me, and guiding my every step. All I have to do is trust. All I have to do is go where He follows and be a light in the darkness.
Mom and Dad
In my earthly relationships, the two people that influenced my life the most are my mom and dad. My mom is a fighter, and my dad is a hard worker. My mom beat cancer. I was only in the third grade and I didn’t really understand what my mom was going through, but I did know I didn’t want anything bad to happen to her. I remember the pain of the chemo and radiation that my mom was suffering. I remember seeing her with no hair. I didn’t like seeing my mom hurt; I hated seeing her in the hospital, always in bed, and not being with me. It was a broken time in my family’s life. However, it made us stronger and closer to each other and to God. After my mom’s treatment, we went to DisneyWorld to celebrate and all my dreams came true – God had done miracle for my family. My mom taught me to fight and that when life is painful to stay close to ones you love. I am just so glad that I can see her face and hug her every time I go home.
My dad taught me to work hard. My dad often worked from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at night. He taught me that if I work hard, I would get rewarded with opportunities. He taught to pursue my dreams. He also taught me to have fun and enjoy life. My dad gave me my passion for watching the Green Bay Packers and for sports. My dad would take me onto the boat, go golfing, play baseball and football catch, go on bike rides, and go camping with me. I am thankful for my dad. I am thankful that I have an eternal and earthly father.
My mom and dad are the reason I am where I am today. They believed in me. I know that I can always share with them with what is happening in my life. No matter what, I know I can go home to my parents.
Every brother fights with their brother, and don’t want to listen to each other in times of life. That is our relationship too. We’d hit each other, tease each other, annoy each other, argue about hockey vs. basketball, or fight over the television. Yet, we still love each other. No matter our indifferences, our different personalities, and interests, we are still brothers. I know that I can make my brother laugh, especially on his 18th birthday when I told him to enjoy a cigar. My brother can be my best man at my wedding.
I have only one grandparent alive, but all have blessed my life with their love. My grandpa Ole played jokes on me with his Norwegian humor. My grandma Norma always wanted to rock me in her chair and hold me. My grandpa Floyd’s old wrinkled hands and sense of humor showed his love for people over the years. He could fix anything. That was his way of loving. He took me for a ride his own airplane, I watched boxing with him, and rode his pontoon and caught Bluegills. My grandma Donna always made sure I was fed, and played games with me. She even played hide and seek with my brother and me when I was a teenager. It never got old.
My USF friends are my real friends. I don’t hang out much with my high school friends anymore, except those that go to USF –Jacki, Crista, and Tyler. My best friend from high school, Chris, was like a brother. We met in the seventh grade at church and at Sioux Falls Christian. We did everything together. We taped varsity basketball games, cruised in his Honda Civic with the subwoofers blaring rap, shot basketball trick shots from the roof of my house, went to church camps, and on a mission trip.
After coming to USF, I really have met my best friends. The friendships and relationships I have made over the last four years, I will always take with me for the rest of my life. I call USF my friends, my second family and home. It all started my freshman year on first floor Burgess. I met two offensive linemen and a cross-country runner, Sam, Jordan, and Chase. I’ve since called these guys my best friends. We had a radio show freshman year (Sam and Sam), made a gentlemen’s room (man cave), had BET hour, played hours of pool, basketball, put thousands of cups of water in a dorm hallway as a prank, drove to the Hills in a van, drove to Wyoming, took Sunday night trips to Buffalo Wild Wings, celebrated USF beating Augie, started the Love Boat, and took mirror shots together. I don’t think I would of like country music if it weren’t for these guys either. We have all lived on the same floor all four years and these guys are like brothers to me. These guys have told me not to care what anyone thinks about me. We go on late night drives, and have late night having bro talks at 2 a.m. I know that they are best friends when they tell me that God has a plan, and he knows what he is doing. I am even thankful that my best friend’s parents call into the Love Boat and made us dinner one night. These are the friends that pick me up when I’m down. They say the hard things, and help me see truth. These guys are the best ones. These guys will be my groomsman at my wedding someday.
I have met so many other people that are my friends. I’ve met a lot of cool people. I’ve met soccer, baseball, basketball, volleyball, tennis players, golfers and track runners. I won’t forget my friend Taylor’s bachelor party, and ushering for his wedding. We had too much fun playing paintball, at the cabin, dougieing and sliding across the dance floor in tuxedos. I became friends with a baseball player that got drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies. I enjoyed playing catch in the smash club, making lists, going to the Twins game, and laughing with my friends. I love watching Packer games with Jake. I enjoyed shooting USF football games. It got cold sometimes, but I got a warmer feeling by singing Nicki Minaj’s “Starships.” I can’t forget the times I talked sports on the Fan Interference either. I seriously don’t know what the heck I would do without my friends.
Like people defined me, so did my childhood. Some of my favorite childhood pastimes that made me feel at home were when my mom and dad read books before I went to bed. I loved to bang pots and pans together, build lego houses with my brother, and play in the sandbox with my Tonka trucks. I loved riding the yellow school bus to and from school, and to watch Arthur every day after school while eating an afternoon snack.
I was the kid that loved being imaginative. I had an imaginary best friend. I would go out in my backyard and pretend I was a manager of a Major League Baseball team, or a MLB pitcher. I’d pretend I was arguing calls, and would get ejected. I would pretend that I had just thrown a perfect game or hit a game winning walk-off home run. I could pretend I was the quarterback of a NFL team for hours, running around, and throwing the pigskin to myself. I would shoot hoops in my driveway, driving past defenders, knocking down three pointers at the buzzer. I would jump in the air pretending I was like Mike with ice in my veins. I am sure my neighbors thought, “What the heck is that kid doing?” I didn’t care.
I was a nerdy kid.
I had several childhood friends too. My first childhood friend was Marcus. I’d go to his house down the block, play Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and chase his black and white cat around the house and yard. I had my friends in elementary school. Adam, and Jeff. My next-door neighbors, the Glovers’ were whom I hung out with when I wasn’t at school. Our favorite game was baseball in the backyard. I had my lake friends, the Bostics’. They were probably my best childhood friends. We lived next door to each other on Lake Poinsett. Carly was a year younger than me, and Nathan and Nolan were a year older than by brother. We built a fort off my garage, and Carly and I would make the younger boys do all the work while sat, and supervised. We were in charge and pretty dang smart. We played whiffle ball, croquet, Frisbee, hide-and-seek, and pretty every outdoor game that ever existed. We dug holes on the beach, jumped off the dock, went canoeing, boating, tubing, and skiing. We went swimming one day, and came back covered in black mud. We lit bucket fires, shot off fireworks, bottle rockets, and threw gasoline over fires. We were pyro maniacs. We didn’t let our different ages get in the way of having fun and being friends.
My whole life has been sports, so naturally sports have become my home. Not a day goes by without doing something sports related. I’m a diehard Packers fan. I love the Twins and the Timberwolves. My favorite athlete is Ricky Rubio. I won’t forget going to my first NFL game when I saw Brett Favre play the Vikings. I loved watching the Twins play the A’s in the 2002 playoffs, Aaron Rodgers at training camp, Sammy Sosa patrol Wrigley Field’s ivy walls, and Kevin Garnett and the Timberwolves take on Captain Kirk Hinrich of the Bulls. I love wearing my Aaron Rodgers jersey, or snapback Sonics, or Cubs hat.
My love for sports came when I was a little kid. I first read the sports page in first grade. I played sports a little. I played soccer, punched and kicked my way to my black belt in the third grade, played basketball for the T-Wolves and Dawg Pound. Then, I quit sports until the eighth grade. I wasn’t the biggest kid. In the eighth grade, I played for my middle school team. I made the B team. I didn’t score until the last game and when I did, the crowd erupted. I was that kid who wore a t-shirt underneath his jersey tucked into his shorts.
In high school, I went out for the basketball team my freshman year. I worked my butt off for a week in tryouts, only to hear that I was cut at the end. I was upset. They kept six players on a freshman team. They said I was too small, and they didn’t want to teach me the playbook. My biggest regret today is not going out the next year, and showing that coach up. Michael Jordan was cut his freshman year, and that could have been me. Who knows? Anyway, I became the student manager and got a varsity letter for it.
Now, I just play intermural basketball, watch, listen, write and read sports. As a kid, I used to just read the box scores, but now I read the whole article. I read the leads, I read what made that person or team so special. I read other people’s writing styles to help improve my writing style.
My goal is to be a sports writer for ESPN or something. I don’t know what I do without sports.
What I want to be remembered for?
In my life, my greatest accomplishments are receiving my Eagle Scout, and my Black Belt. I won’t forget that time when Oakland A’s pitcher Brandon McCarthy favorite my tweet, too.
In my life, I want to be remembered as that kid that went the extra mile. I want people to say, “Hey, that kid is funny. That kid is joyful, always laughing, smiling and having a good time!” I want to be a true friend that brings the best out of people. I also want to be noticed by people and notice people. I want people to say I work hard and that I won’t ever give up. I don’t want to live in fear, and say what if. I know that God’s got a plan for me. God’s got something that is sweeter than honey ready for me.
As a writer, I want to write about sports and I want to write stories that impact people. When I look at sports writers that write about sports, I think of writers like Rick Reilly or Mitch Albom. I am even thankful for that former Sports Illustrated writer that responded to me on Twitter and gave me a connection.
I want to write about inspirations that have made their team stronger, like Chuck Pagano’s fight against cancer inspiring the Colts to win. I also want to write like Donald Miller. I like to tell people’s stories. I like to tell how people have found hope, joy, and love in the world. I want to write a book. Writing is my way of showing the love of Christ to the world.
This is who I am. God defines me. So do my parents, my brother, grandparents, my friends, childhood, and sports.