Hello Friends and Family,
This Saturday, April 16th, is my mom’s birthday! Unfortunately, I won’t be home to celebrate with her this year, and I want to do something to show her how important she is to me. My parents have been the two most impactful people on my life, and it’s hard to put in to words how much I love them. However, true to form, I’m going to try! So, happy birthday, Mom. Here is what you and dad mean to me…
When I went off to Penn State my parents made the eight and a half hour drive, one-way, and were at almost every home match of my career. It is a special feeling to be able to look up in to the crowd and feel like you’re doing something to make your parents proud. I know they would have been proud of me no matter what, but the success I experienced at Penn State was also a big reflection on them. Every practice they drove me to, all the club tournaments they cheered at, every day they worked hard so I could play on my travel volleyball team, and every time they had to pick me up when I was down was paying off in front of their eyes. I loved that feeling.
My dad, Alan, is a pretty famous guy amongst my friends. He’s well liked, respected, and our go-to guy for fact checking and information finding. The man knows a lot, but one thing he may not know is that he is one of my heroes.
My dad is my hero because he has always been all-in to support my dreams. When I first became interested in volleyball in the fourth grade, my dad built up a net in the back yard so my neighborhood friends and I could play. We’d be out until it was dark playing a game we loved. During the recruiting process he was notorious for bringing his notebook filled with well-thought-out questions to ask my potential college coach. Quite possibly the story that best sums up my dad is when I first got my license he would still FOLLOW me to practice so ‘no one could tailgate me’. It should be noted that my dad’s office is about twenty minutes from home and only about three minutes away from the volleyball gym. He would drive home in traffic just to turn around and follow me back to basically where he just was. My dad would sit and watch my two hour practice, and then follow me home. It took a while for Katie Camp and Katie Kabbes to stop making fun of me for that, but I know he did it because he loves me. I’m positive there were at least ten other things he could have been doing than sacrificing his entire evening just to make sure I was safe and comfortable as a new driver.
Dad, thank you for being a constant presence in my life, always making me a priority and being someone I can count on no matter what. I am proud of you for what a positive impact you have on me, our family, and our community as you give back through Boy Scouts, Triangle, and so much more. I love your passion for good bar-b-q, college basketball, and even NASCAR. I am inspired by all the hard work you put in to your hiking and camping hobbies. It shows me that there can always be something to work at and be excited about. Thank you for helping me talk through important decisions and for being fully on-board to support each of my new adventures. You are a fantastic trip planner and travel guide, and we appreciate all the hours you spend researching so our family can have a fantastic trip and skip the long lines at the Louvre! Your visits to see me in both France and Germany are experiences I hold very close to my heart as those were special times, and I could see it in your eyes that you are so proud of me. Thanks for always supporting me. I admire the person that you are, and I love you to the Appalachian Trail and back, ten times!
When I think of my mom, Maureen, I automatically start smiling. I can remember times where she and I were laughing so hard we were crying. She’s beautiful, smart, comforting, she knows how to tell an entertaining story, and every day she is there to listen and genuinely cares to hear about what happened that day. She has sat on the phone with me for countless hours encouraging me when I’m down, reassuring me when I’m doubtful, pushing me to go after my goals, and celebrating with me when it all pays off. My mom is my hero because with her I’ve never felt alone.
When I am playing overseas my parents are able to watch all of our matches live online. After our first home match of this season I went to the locker room to see what my parents had texted me about the game. The first and only text from my mom was ‘Yea! Love Burny, he has a lot of spunk!’…Burny is our team mascot. There was nothing said about the actual match. That’s just how it is with my mom, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. She has learned a lot about volleyball over the years, and can actually talk you in to thinking she knows what’s going on. (Unlike the time in high school when she met my new coach, and he asked her witch position I played and she had no idea.) But I appreciate that she is always there to say ‘great job’, and her lack of knowledge about the sport reminds me that volleyball isn’t the most important thing going on in this world.
It’s a special bond we have, mom. Thank you for being yourself and for sometimes (all the time) putting your foot in your mouth and giving us something to laugh at later. Thank you for always listening. I appreciate you always encouraging me to see the amazingness in what I’m doing and the bright times that are ahead. I love when we go for walks along the Neuse River Trail and talk about life. Those are some of my favorite times because it’s just you and I surrounded by the beauty of nature. Everything is simpler in those moments. You are the best grilled-cheese maker in all of the land, and I love you even after you drag me with you through the grocery store for upwards of two hours. You’re the best lane partner when we go swimming at the Y on Sundays. I’ll always remember Christmas Eve when you and I practically had the Palace of Versailles all to ourselves. Thanks for not letting the rain stop us from having that fun day. Thank you for making me laugh constantly and for laughing when I tell a funny story. I know I can always count on you to find something just as funny as I do, and that makes me happy. It makes my day every time I get a card from you in the mail while I’m overseas, and your encouragement means everything to me. Thank you for showing me unconditional love and for seeing me as way more than just a volleyball player. I’m grateful for all of the memories we share together, and they are significantly more special to me because I was with you.
So HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Mom! I love you (and dad too)!