For the state of Oklahoma, 2013 was full of life-changing events. Some were exciting and some unbelievably devastating. Throughout the course of the past 365 days, I have been to my home state of Texas at least 5 times, California twice and Florida once. As much as I love to travel, the word “home” took on a whole new meaning to me.
This year was yet another reminder of how fast things can change, and that if we are not careful, we will lose the opportunity to spend just a few more minutes with the ones we love. We all learned that lesson firsthand when we were surrounded by the destruction of the May 2013 tornado. I was in Texas visiting my Dad who was recuperating from pneumonia. As I watched the news on the screen, my head was with my Dad, but my heartstrings were being tugged toward Oklahoma. It wasn’t until I was called by our softball coach who relayed just how bad it was that I began to fully comprehend the damage and reality of it all. I was due to spend the weekend in Austin at a conference. After sitting through a few workshops and thanking people for saying they were praying for the state of Oklahoma, I was simply going through the motions. I ended up leaving early. A day later, due to a weather delay, there were no Super Regionals. Instead, we hosted the “Bring It” and “Game Time” teams from Moore, OK at the OU Softball field. There was not a dry eye in the group after the team chaplain, Sarah Roberts, led us in a prayer. Selfish as it may have been, I am glad I was there. Watching our players wipe away tears and spend time with the young players made my heart swell with pride.
To let off some energy and take their minds off, Coach Gasso let the girls run around the bases and hang out more with the OU players. One girl who became especially close to the team was Casey Angle, the sibling of Sydney Angle, who died in the tornado. Whenever she wasn’t playing, Casey could be seen in the OU dugout throughout the rest of Super Regionals and into the WCWS.
Weeks after the deadly tornadoes, the OU Softball Team was not only playing for their university and fans, they were playing for the whole state. On June 4, 2013 there were tears of joy as the team ran around the Hall of Fame Field after winning it all, carrying the state of Oklahoma flag and signs that read HOME.
Tragedy continued to strike close to home. In August, the OU Softball Family lost a devoted fan in Gene Fuzzell. Our spring tailgates will not be the same without him. Then in October, a dear friend’s husband passed away after a short but courageous battle with leukemia. Karl Moyer was such a great man and is missed every day.
Life is funny-we begin the year with new resolutions and a new attitude about making positive changes in our lives. We create a plan and expect everything to go according to schedule. Perhaps just when we were getting too comfortable, God felt we needed to be woken up.
As I begin 2014, I am grateful for my faith. Without it, I would not have been able to understand the challenges faced this past year. I am hopeful for what lies ahead.
Make the most of everyday.