Every once in a while, you experience one of those occasions where you stop to appreciate how blessed you are. Our family had one of those times recently when our oldest daughter, Brittany, was inducted into her collegiate hall of fame.
When our daughters were growing up, we encouraged them to try different activities at school. Of course, I wanted the girls to play basketball. They both tried it to appease me, but neither of them liked it, nor were they very good at it (as I think both girls would freely admit today).
Soccer seemed to be a better fit for Larissa, our youngest daughter, where she excelled, but that wasn’t where Brittany would find her niche either. However, as I observed Brittany on the soccer field, I saw that she had a nice, long stride, and I encouraged her to join track and field. It was running that turned out to be her gift.
Brittany came onto the running scene during a very historic period in South Dakota. She got to run with, and against, some of the most competitive and accomplished track and cross country athletes the state has ever seen. Brittany was blessed with some talent, but she had a powerful work ethic, a quality that serves people well in running sports. We watched her battle through injuries to experience a high level of success as a high school athlete.
Of course, we hoped she would compete in South Dakota as a college athlete, but she got a full-ride offer to run at Belmont University, a small Division I school in Nashville — and run she did. She won back-to-back conference cross country championships and was twice named to the NCAA Division I “All South Regional Team.” She won numerous other awards, all of which contributed to her hall of fame induction. It was a well-deserved acknowledgement that all the hard work she put in through the years had paid off.
But as we watched her on the stage that night, sharing her remarks at the induction ceremony, I saw something else. I saw that little red-haired, pony-tailed girl all grown up. I heard her talk about the gift God had given her and how she had wanted to use it for His glory. I saw the character and courage that He had formed in her as she fought through an eating disorder and other challenges that came with succeeding as a college athlete. And I saw a confident wife, mother, and professional who continues to live life with the same sense of purpose that enabled her to log the thousands of miles that landed her on the hall of fame stage that night.
For a brief moment, everything else I do in life paled in comparison to the joy that comes with being a dad — and on that night, the dad of a hall of famer. Congratulations, Brittany!