Wednesday, January 15, 2014

RHS Hall of Fame Speech

Wonder what I said at the Hall of Fame induction, you can read my speech below.
I would like to start by thanking the hall of fame committee for selecting me for this great honor.  I am extremely proud to be associated with all the other nominees, the Bee Football team, Randy Orwig, John Butler and Dr. Hank Mercado, Congratulations!  I would like to especially thank Dr. Mercado for all his help in getting me nominated and his guidance during the process.

Thank you to my parents. You two amaze me. Not sure how you made it to every race, game and meet. But you were always there cheering me on. You have taught me what hard work looks like, how to be a strong and fair competitor, showed me how to care about those around you. I also have amazing siblings Brooke, Sean and Mikayla. They cannot be here tonight because they are all off doing amazing things. They like my parents have shaped me and always been my biggest fans.  
To my husband Brennan. You are the love of my life and the best teammate anyone could ask for. You may have met me long after my high school days, but you understand where I come from, especially since you toured my high school this morning. To my grandpa you’re an amazing support! Thank you for feeding me through college! To my family friends here, I feel so blessed to have you in my life and your support in all my endeavors
I want to take the time to thank my coaches and teammates. You get nowhere in life without the help from those around you.  I was so fortunate to have amazing teammates- everyone of them I could say a million things about. Many of the alumni that I never played with helped me to be a better player.  Beth Harberts, Kendra Adama both went on to play at San Jose State. Hillary Clarendon Bluementhal who was always a rock in the goal and still one of my best friends. My sister Brooke who complimented my style so well loving to score. But to no fail watched game film every available moment.  Without all of them I would not have been half the player I became.
I have had amazing coaches from club through my college days. I would especially like to thank my high school coaches, who again took the time away from their families to be here tonight. I was fortunate to play and compete for the best coaches around. Matt Fry I could never thank you enough! For all the time and support. You always had my back as a player and appreciated my opinion. You let me shine as the player that loved defense and leading in my own style.  When swim season came around you always had the right thing to say before a big race- I can think of one instance before the 200 Free for a CBL Title. We won’t repeat it! Coach D thank you for always having good things to say and a way for me to improve my game. For letting your enthusiasm for the game flow through you and rub off on all of us. Dahnke thanks for pushing me to be the best swimmer possible. For understanding my desire to push myself and allowing me to train with the boys. For always making me laugh and give me the joy back in swimming.  For all of you for spending so many hours on the pool deck, for the weekends spent building things and spending so much of your personal money to better our aquatic programs.  I can tell you it has all paid off.
As I have gone through this whole process many memories have come rushing back. From my first cross country meet to my last time racing as a Terrier.  I have so many positive memories in between. I was taught life lessons that carry me through to today. For example never let you little sister get on the bus before you. I am going to stand tall on this Matt, she made me late.  
I love sports. Sports is what my life has revolved around. My family loves sports it is what we do together. I love sports so much that I got a Master’s Degree in Sport Management from the University of San Francisco. This is also how I met my husband.  I work for a company called PEAR Sports. We have an app that is heart rate based coaching so you can train at the highest level for you as an individual. My husband works for a nonprofit that helps individuals with diabetes be active through sports.  My true sports passion is swimming and water polo (though I do love college football).
Even at a young age- I spent hours at the pool. I still love the sports. I still coach water polo at SDSU spending free time on the pool deck. I remember being in middle school and getting out of school early to watch REV/RHS game. Melissa Fernandez an all-America mom Hillarys Aunt picked us up. At the time Hillary’s sister Chamile was the goalie for RHS. I was there when those amazing players won the CIF title in 2000. I was at multiple CIF swimming finals when so many RHS athletes (Vicky West, Shannon Cullen, Ben Worby, Evan Castro) placed and won individual CIF titles! Those were the athletes I looked up to and was going to follow in their footsteps. I like to think I did them all justice. I may never have won a title but I represented RHS in the best of my ability on a daily basis.
I could stand up here and talk for hours about my time at RHS.
I will give you three quick stories from my different sports. One from each sport you will see a common theme in them my family has and will always play a huge role in my life.  I ran cross country my freshman and sophomore year. I made varsity and I have club swimming to thank for that (I had built the engine, they say). But I was learning this new sport and there was no pressure. I can remember one of the first meets over at Prospect Park- my family is of course there. And we are a bit into the race and I am with a pack of girls (nowhere near the start line) and this man on a bike starts yelling. All these different things drive your arms, turnover, relax. Don’t let them get the jump. And this girl turns to me and is like wonder who’s dad that is. I did not respond. A little farther into the course he is back- yelling away. Well at the time I was not proud to say it but that yelling man on the bike, that was my dad. While all the other parents just waited to cheer in one area- the coach in him took it to the next level. Eventually the girls learned it was my dad, think the football coach in them scared a few. For me it was what I needed every turn he was there to get me through. I also have a picture from another meet at that same park- I look like death (though I think my running always looks that way). And the path is lined with my water polo and swim teammates with signs and they were all yelling. They had all come to cheer me on. That is the family that was built at RHS. My friends from sports where who I eat my lunch with, who I went to school dances with. They were teammates and true friends.
Water Polo I could go on and on. It was the sport I felt I was the strongest at. I used my swimming skills to outlast people, loved to play defense and lead the offense.  We had a reputation to keep RHS had never lost in league- though I can say when that loss finally happened it was with my little sister Mikayla playing at REV, many years after my time. If anyone was going to steal it I could let it go to my sister. My fondest memory is my Junior year we were playing the semifinals of CIF. Finally made it past the quarter finals, which had cursed the team for a few years. Not only that we were playing at the U of R- none of this playing over in Riverside business. We were playing the number 1 seed Riverside Poly.  Being so close the school pushed the information out people showed up. The track team lead by I believe Mr. Morris ran over. The place was packed the refs were pushing students back who were sitting on the concrete.  Poly- had a few great players (ironically I had played club with most of them). I was tasked with shutting down there best player Monique. I did my job well, we got a few good goals. My sister Brooke like usual played lights out our goalie was pulling everything down. After every big play the deck would explode with cheers. When the final buzzer sounded we had won- knocking off the number one seed. The first person I hugged was my sister Brooke we had worked so hard for this moment. Then in came Matt & Coach D. We were all swimming in victory. Sadly we went on to lose to Upland a few days later. But we had been the underdog and won.  I had played in the “big house”!  My senior year we again would meet up with Upland in the finals and lose. It was a hard way to end my high school career. But a memory none the less to play in front of hundreds. To have my sister again play amazing.
Swimming was another time in the year I looked forward to. High school swimming has much more of a team feel and I loved that. I seemed to always swim well in high school I enjoyed it more with less pressure. Not to say that pressure did not come at times. I managed to get into CIF multiple times, even when it seemed impossible. Being undefeated in league didn’t come easy either. But think my best story from high school is at the Mission Viejo invitational. This was always a good test in the middle of the year. You have prelims and finals. You have the best high schools in orange county and many times Olympians you are racing against. I had qualified for the finals in the 100 Fly and so did my sister Brooke.  At this meet you get to design your bio that they read when you get  introduced. Not sure who started the RHS tradition but you came up with something funny. We had these brothers and the oldest one started an Armadillo farm, so when the younger brother arrived he took over the armadillo tradition. But everyone’s was funny from RHS.  This particular year when Brooke and I had both qualified we were in the lanes right next to each other. So mine read something along the lines of beat the girl in “Lane 5”. While hers read something similar. It was going to be a battle. One of my teammates got a picture of us at the same moment in the same part of our stroke breathing- it hangs in my parents’ home. That was the true meaning of competition. I won’t lie and say I won the sister battle. I believe I was out touched.  
I left RHS as a confident individual who planned to make an impact at San Diego State.  I played the same water polo style and was always relied upon in big moments. I was in the water as the clock ticked down and we upset Cal at their pool (1st time in school history). I was in the room when it was announced we had made the NCAA Championship Tournament.  I played in the final four in Long Beach in front of my family. The next year my best friend and sister Brooke joined me at San Diego State. Where we both swam and played polo. That year was another year of success for us both with polo and swimming. Swimming got its highest league ranking and we played together in the NCAA Tournament. My senior year I just swam. The first time in my entire life I did not play polo. I went all personal bests and end my career with a long mile. And when I finished that mile the first person I saw was Brooke. Then to the stands to see my parents. After graduation I would stay on to coach with the SDSU swim team.  A highlight of my life- I was with Brooke when she started her career and would see it to the end. I coached multiple athletes to Freshman Swimmer of the Year, to individual’s conference titles. But the best was I witnessed my sister Brooke place in the conference and was with her when we went for that much needed celebration swim. We won the Mountain West Conference Championship with an undefeated record. The first in the programs history.
My husband likes to yell "GO AZTECS" when I get excited about SDSU. It's a testament to my love of home. I'm a true "homer" as they say.
I love SDSU.
I love RHS.
I love where I'm from. This is my home. This is my family. RHS is the place that molded me.
I'm a Terrier for life.
The people here respected my view of leadership, my view of the world. It was not just about the stat sheet but about making Jamie the best person I could be. For that I am always grateful. From the bottom of my heart I thank all of you, Redlands is who I am and who I will always be.
Thank you.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

RHS Hall of Fame

I realized that I never actually talked about the RHS Athletic Hall of Fame Event. To say I was humbled would be an understatement.

When I was first asked to include my resume, I laughed. The rules are basically you have to be out of school 5 year and still continuing with athletics. I worked a few hours collecting all my accomplishments, awards, and volunteer opportunities, multiple jobs. Turns out I have done a few things in my short life. It was a fun reminder of my years of high school, college and the few years following.

I was informed a few weeks after turning in my resume that I had been selected for the 2013 Hall of Fame class. I was voted in with a unanimous vote. What a true honor. I then needed to get them pictures and approve my plaque.

Brennan & I in the Hall of Fame
The induction events would take place over two days in November. Thursday November 7th would be jam backed with events on campus. Brennan and I would leave nice and early from San Diego, with a quick stop to grab my grandpa. We then drove to Redlands.

The first event was to meet at the Hall of Fame room on campus at 9am. I had never been into the room.  My dad would meet us there. It was the first chance to see all those previously inducted. Then to see my plaque hanging with all the others. Woman have only been inducted for the past few years, so I am truly honored to join the select few. We would then all be introduced to the group.

Chuck's plaque
After spending some time in the hall of fame we were headed to see the rest of campus. I laughed cause it does not look much different, but for others it had been three or four decades and A LOT had changed. The tour was a ton of fun in terms of getting to show Brennan my high school. We also were able to stop and see the tree and plaque planted for the late Chuck Baker. I spent a few minutes just thinking of him and knowing he was watching. In the gym I got to see Brooke’s name on the wall for CIF Division 5 player of the year! 

Proud of you Brooke!!!
Once the tour ended it was time to head out for lunch. Dad and grandpa meet up with us again (they didn’t want to do all the walking around campus). We had a great lunch with all the inductee’s, friends and family. In all honesty based on the age of everyone else being inducted my dad and grandpa fit in much better than Brennan & I.

When we finished lunch it was back to campus. The inductee’s had been asked to speak with the 6th period athletes PE classes. I think this was one of the best parts of the Hall of Fame events. Brennan laughed at me cause I was freaking out and not sure what to say. My quick speech was basically that I was just them, time goes quickly. Life will give you what you put into it. So dream big and work hard. Remember where you came from. I think it resonated well with the athletes.

With my table
After the speech we had about two hours before we needed to be at the UofR for the banquet. We went and hung out with the dad and grandpa at the house. I then started the process of getting ready. Since I was being inducted we needed to be there early to set up my table. I had brought some memorabilia to add as well. Then my always amazing mom came strolling in!

During my speech
Since we were early it gave us some time to chat with the other inductee’s and Redlands peps. Redlands is a small town when you start to really get involved. I was truly blessed and honored by the number of friends who came out to support me through my carreer andthen showed up for the banquet. I want to thank Matt Fry my high school water polo coach and swim coach. Was great to have him sitting at our table. Then the Brown’s and West’s who have seen me progress from learn to swim to a college coach. Patty Baker, Sandi Ritchey and the Atchley’s who have known me since before I could swim.  Thank you for giving up an evening to see me be awarded, I feel so blessed!

The evening was a lot of fun, just chatting over dinner. Then we got to listen to speeches from those who are on the board of the Hall of Fame, which are all volunteers. Then all inductee’s were given a chance to speak. Some speeches were very funny, some to long. I was starting to get really nervous about mine. I had a speech I was well aware was to long, but Brennan reminded me that no one would be mad and this was my time. I gave my speech and only managed to tear up!

With my fellow Aztec
It was a long night but jus very exciting. The banquet was amazing and packed. They had sold out and went to extra capacity! Which made it even more amazing.

Friday would be restful. Brennan and I would spend most of the day at Panera working. Then it was time to get ready for the football game. I took a lot of heat for Brennan since I decided to wear my letterman’s jacket. In Redlands that was what everyone wears to the games. I probably wont have many chances left, or none if Brennan has his choice! We all headed to the football game where we had field access. We watched the team warm up. Then I was announced prior to the game. It was a funny introduction, “ I got the just look at her jacket, and we can’t even tell you everything she has accomplished”. I was a bit embarrassed hearing that. I then got to shake all the captains hands. Only to have one say are you Mikayla’s sister? I responded, “Well yes she is my sister”. He replies “I see it really runs in the family”. That made me laugh. Turns out he went to REV with Sean and KK but then transferred to RHS. Small town!
I have attended my share of football games. I always wonder what it would be like in the coin toss. I finally got my chance. I was asked to join the coin toss, where the refs and athletes congratulated us. Dad told me to go out there and be ready. Say we are calling heads, we want to defer and we will be going toward the East. It would have been funny if I did, but I did not!

Then the family headed into the stands to watch the game. On our way to the stands all different RHS fans congratulated me. My parents were congratulated on all my accomplishments. It was a fun moment. I then got to spend a bit more time with the inductee’s, they were all so amazing in there own right. What I appreciated the most if for being a smaller sport they were all so amazed and kept informing me of that!

At half time the team was not playing well. Brennan, grandpa and I needed to drive back home. I had to be at San Diego State Saturday morning by 7am. My club team was hosting a pre-season tournament. It never ends for those looking to be the best!

Mr Morse and Me
I want to thank all those that have supported me over the years. To my parents who are just amazing, my siblings that were my biggest fans! My husband Brennan who took in a lot of Redlands for a weekend. My grandpa for the support and coming to see me being honored. My coaches especially Matt Fry, who always believed in me.  For my dentist Hank Mercado who is on the board of the Hall of Fame, also another inductee. Thank you for telling my dad about it, for helping me through the process. Thanks to the rest of the Hall of Fame board for putting together an amazing event and including me in it! Thanks to Kenny Morse who I had as a teacher and is now in administration. For all your work with the board of the Hall of Fame, for taking us on a tour, getting us on the field and everything in between.