Sunday, November 20, 2016

Tommy Boy

Though it doesn't seem that long ago, it's been many years since I coached wrestling. One of my favorite memories from that time revolve around a student named Tommy. Tommy was a tough kid who also had a tough time in school. When the football coach who was helping me recruit for the team told me about him, he said, "Tommy is a good kid, with a good heart, but he could easily go down the wrong path". That described a lot of my wrestlers those first couple of years. Tommy was a pretty good wrestler and performed well (when he was academically eligible). By the time he was a senior, he was invested, on the right track and was even a team captain. He could always be heard pumping up the team with his rendition of "Let's get ready to rumble!"

After graduation, Tommy decided to follow in his father's footsteps and join the military. Unlike his father who was in the Navy, he had set his sights on Pararescue. These soldiers are trained both as paratroopers and field medics. The average cohort starts at about 100 cadets and graduates only 15-20 two years later. I promised Tommy that if he made it through, I would be at his graduation. Two years later, I joined his parents in Arizona for his graduation with 16 other cadets. It was one of the proudest moments of my life. But the moment that stood out to me most of all was when his father said to me, "Coach, you saved my boy's life." Now, I hadn't actually saved anyone's life and I felt pretty humble being surrounded by people who really were going to save people's lives, but I understood his message. Tommy could have gone either way and our relationship and his commitment to being a leader of our team kept him on track.

This week, we take time to give thanks for all that we have. I would like to give thanks for the opportunities I have had as an educator and coach to make an impact on people's lives, to encourage and inspire, and to share a small piece of student's lives. I give thanks, because for every ounce of energy I have given, I have received ten times worth back from students, staff, and parents that I have had the pleasure to work with over the years. I'm thankful that I have a chance to make a difference in people's lives and I'm thankful that I'm surrounded by people who choose to do the same each and everyday. I'm thankful for Tommy and for all the other Tommy's that I have known and will know along the way.

Let's Get Ready to Rumble!!


"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more." - Oprah Winfrey

"I am grateful for what I have. My thanksgiving is perpetual." Henry David Thoreau

"The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest." - William Blake


Wednesday, November 23-Friday, November 25: Thanksgiving Break!
Monday, November 28: Student of the Month Assembly (Respect) 9:05-9:25 am
Wednesday, November 30: Principals Advisory/School Improvement Team 8:20 am
Thursday, December 1: Staff Meeting 8:05 am
                                     PTA Popcorn Sales
                                     Lifetouch Picture Retakes 1:00 pm
Friday, December 2: Records Day (Optional Report Day)

Wednesday, December 7-Friday, December 9: Jon to MEMSPA Conference
                                                                        Rob Witherspoon on call Wed & Thu
                                                                        Sandi Benson covering office Friday


Paul Liabenow

Mike Domagalski


  1. We often never know our impact on student lives. What an honor and proud moment for you to share in this students' graduation! I'm not surprised at all that you made a difference! You inspire!

    1. Thanks Sandy! Glad to see you blogging again!!

  2. This is a wonderful reason to be thankful, for you, for Tommy and for his family. And isn't it amazing to think that an investment years ago in one young man can still have positive results today and in the future? Congratulations, this is a story worth remembering all your life!