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Life Lessons

Lynn Rothenhoefer - February 7, 2017

Shout out...that’s this issue's theme. Tell someone they are loved, thank them, tell they made a difference; ok I can do that, and well hopefully, in that there’s a lesson. I’ll give a loud and clear shout out to two sets of parents: mine and my roommate's from college. Mine, alive and well, and living in southern Delaware happily married for nearly 50 years. My roommate’s parents we unfortunately and untimely lost tragically on New Year’s Eve 2016 in a heartbreaking accident. Perhaps it is that timeliness that surfaces my real acknowledgement of their special qualities.

I’ll get to my parents in a moment, but Jim and Eileen Locke had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2015 – I was there. They raised seven children (and much of an 8th – a grandchild), were proud and active grandparents of 12 other grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. I’d known them for 30+ years, since their daughter and I on our first day of college moved into the same dorm room on the 5th floor of Sanderson Hall at West Chester University. Shout out to the Lockes is for their amazing and exemplary giving and loving spirit and actions. These were modest, hard-working people whose lives were most complete when doing for others. There were no less that 8-10 mouths to feed (without guests or friends) and we used to go “shopping” in their pantry on visits home on the weekends, as “poor college students” do. Family celebrations and holidays (especially in the spring & summer) would shut down the street and turn into block parties. ALL, were welcome. If there was food (and there always was) you could have, drinks – have one (or two or three); come on in – “you are welcome.” Her dad, notorious for a “hey, kid” didn’t always remember names, but knew you and loved seeing you anyway. I was over at the Locke’s house this past weekend helping them sort out their belongings in the house, and the siblings remembered a story as they were discussing one of the cars they were selling to a friend of the family that might have needed a few upgrades. One said, “Ha, remember Daddy used to fold down the hatch of the old station wagon and if you could fit, you could get a ride to practice or the game.” These people were rich. Not in monetary gains, but in life. The more they gave away the more they received, and for that dear Mr and Mrs Locke – I thank you!

My parents well, I have now long been able to realize and thank them for the support they have shown me, and my brother, all our lives, which in this great world of uncertainty is one of the sure things in my life. Support: “bear all or part of the weight of; hold up.” I’m 48…that’s a lot of weight bearing! When we talk about support, we often think financially, or encouragement and love. Yes, yes of course there was that, but it wasn’t all roses and sunshine. When we made mistakes, we were supported and it wasn’t sugar coated. We were informed when we were being selfish brats or when we had wronged someone, or weren’t living up to our potential or our end of the bargain.   I distinctly remember two incidences with my mother, who was “everyone’s mom.” She went to every game, and dragged my brother, who I believe remembers that fondly now – at least mostly. She brought the cut-up oranges for half-time and the cookies or brownies for after the game. I was a good student, and that mom drove me back up to elementary school when I forgot my book for homework one day. I went kicking and screaming and claimed we were not going to find anyone there and the doors would be locked. I was right but she had an answer (of support) – “you go bang on this door and the very nice janitor will come and ask what you need and you’ll nicely ask him to open the door and accompany you to your room to get your book so you can do your homework…and tell him your mom is out waiting in the car.” Mission accomplished! Same mom when I was 16 and needed to get a summer job drove me around all day in Bethany Beach, DE to put applications in wherever they posted, “HELP WANTED” signs. I remember crying and saying, “no one is hiring me can we just go home now?” Nope. Here’s another place. “Tell them your name, you are here all summer, and you’d like to work for them.” I got a job that day; Resort Rentals in South Bethany Beach, which I had for multiple summers. My Dad, when I was  a little girl often he worked 12-hour shifts on perhaps on one of his only days off would put me on HIS shoulders because I was tired walking on the boardwalk. Or, when we only had one car and my mom and I would go pick him up at night after his 12-hour shift, he would carry ME in the house after I had fallen asleep on the ride home and put me to bed. You see that kind of support doesn’t come in a pretty package with bows on it, or excuses for me when I messed up, or gave me what I wanted just because I wanted it. It was the support that taught me right from wrong, be honest, be selfless, and be present. I, and my brother, we are the lucky ones. In the environment in which I work, I don’t see that kind of support all the time. Shout out to Sue and Dick Rothenhoefer for their unconditional love and support!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank some of my mentors. I was recently asked in a survey how many I had, which prompted my thought on evaluating that. There are three teachers- elementary/middle/high school: Russ Guetche, Nancy Kennedy and Joelyn Boyd; helped form my interest in teaching. Professional mentors: Pam Wojnar (the AD that first hired me at Rosemont), Shirley Liddle (former AD at Arcadia University) and Mary Jo Gunning (AD at Marywood University). Female athletics administrators’ experts at their craft and motivation to provide a quality student-athlete experience. Professional, but mostly ‘life coaches’ – Marilyn Moller (you may know her as Dean or Professor Moller), and the late Ann Amore (former President at Rosemont), whose lives are (were) exemplary including their success in their professions. And my uncle, Bob Martin, a long-time teacher/administrator/coach; I followed in his footsteps in high school (Upper Darby), college (West Chester), and profession (teacher, coach, administrator). We both bleed purple and gold (even though I have grown a love for the maroon and grey), and his example is one of the one’s I believe I’ve most followed in my coaching (on the field and in life lessons).

What do/did these people have? I believe it is INTENTION (“an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result… the end of object intended; purpose”). While random acts of kindness are good, perhaps a life with more intention or purpose is more fulfilling for everyone. I received a regular NCAA DIII newsletter email last week on “Leadership Development.” Clicking around I came across a speaker, a leadership and communication coach, Justin Patton, who presented at the 2016 Student-Athlete Leadership Symposium in November. One of his more recent YouTube videos was titled “Stand for Something.” The backdrop issue is the tumultuous political climate in which we Americans especially find ourselves, but I found a part of his message timeless and true.

Don’t stand against something; this is characterized by destruction, fear, defiance; it is done for someone to listen and speak to be “right;” it always has someone on the losing side who ends up feeling unheard and devalued.”

Do stand for something; it is rooted in love and compassion; something bigger than one’s self, and honors each other’s opinions.”

I leave you with a prayer reportedly written on the walls of Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s home for children in India and widely associated with the Missionaries of Charity (and not coincidentally posted on the Locke’s refrigerator – remember my friend’s parents…):

“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight.
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.
Give the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God;

it was never between you and them anyway.”