An old musing I can’t let go

Though I’ve refreshed my web site and the blog section I can’t seem to let this one go away.

My column for Elan Vital has been due for a couple of weeks now but as President you get to really decide what the deadlines are. Following dinner I’m at my usual spot reading the last paper of the day, USA Today. Oh yea, I did the local rag while passing a few miles on the treadmill this a.m. but I have grown accustomed to spending a leisurely hour with McPaper, at home or on the road, to assure that I’ve got all the up to the minute pop trends down. This day it’s HP/Compaq, US troop possibilities to Indonesia, and the announcement of the new Laura Croft physique. I’m gonna have to get that Tomb Raider video game.

I always save sports for last, mainly because it’s the least stimulating. However, one headline grabs my attention, much like the article I read on the ‘mill at 6 a.m.: “Teen dies from puck injuries.” I read the first article in its entirety. I also read this one, and find new perspective. In case you missed it, a 13-year old girl, two days from her 14th birthday, was hit by an errant hockey puck while attending a professional game. She died shortly thereafter. The odds are a kazillion to one against it happening. But it did. However, that’s not the story that catches my emotion.

Cecil Brittanie, of West Alexandria, Ohio, was a vibrant 13-year old and a “team player.” Comments from her soccer coach indicate that he often gave her the most difficult and least prestigious assignments of the game. Apparently she was a “gamer.” She could adapt and was willing to do what it takes for the team. In addition to feeling the emotion the parents are feeling and guessing what it must be like to lose a daughter, I’m centered on her soccer coach’s comments. “I sometimes didn’t give her the nicest assignments to play on my team. I would say, ‘This is where I need you, and I need to count on you, and she would do what I asked’.”

Some would say, “ah shucks, just a kid willing to go with the flow and have fun.” I say, a lesson for us all. What have we lost when we hear one another complain about the jigs and jags tossed us in life and work? What have we lost when we are so certain that there is only one very important role for us that we can’t see the wisdom of others who may see our strength before we do and ask us to deliver? What have we lost that we need to be the hero and are not willing to serve the team in a capacity that may be less visible, yet critical?

Ok, I’m done preaching and only hoping to finish writing this before I break into tears.

So what’s the lesson? There are many but I will dwell on two. One: Brittanie understood teamwork much more than many of the pathetic whiners we run into every day worried only about their own selfish interests and what’s in it for them. Her coach and her teammates know that. Leadership doesn’t require heroic efforts but it does involve service. Two: the rest of the story, her family, who you might imagine had a lot to do with the fortitude and attitude of this young woman only out for a fun time at the hockey game. Her mom and dad, as they came to the realization that she would not make it… created a leadership moment for us all to consider: “In the hopes that others will be blessed as much as we were by her life,” they authorized her organs to be donated.

To Brittanie, with tears of admiration in my eyes for your legacy and the wisdom of your family.

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