Ode to Giuseppe
I never actually wanted to write this blog post because I never wanted this to be my reality, but with the recent passing of my father I want to share some of the most wonderful lessons he taught me in my 27 years with him. He is the reason I coach and he is the reason I have confidence to jump headfirst into new experiences. Both my dad and my mom did an incredible job at providing my brothers and I with a strong example of leadership and how to communicate with others. I am truly blessed to be the offspring of such strong leaders.
I've spent majority of the last couple weeks crying, but I want to shed light on all the amazing things my father taught me that I will hold close to my heart forever. He may be physically gone, but I know his legacy will live on.
Here are the Top 10 Things Giuseppe taught me ...
(1) Athletes are people
My dad always learned the names of his athletes, always knew what that had going on in school, at home and in their lives outside of football. You never know what someone is dealing with and it's important for us as coaches to take that into consideration to help guide our athletes in the right direction, rather than push them further away.
(2) It's okay to cry in public
Commercials, songs, movies, conversations - you name it, he probably cried and never cared what anyone thought. This taught me to let myself feel what I need to feel and if it shows, who cares? He always reminded me "peach, it means you care."
(3) Food is a vehicle for conversation
I can't even begin to imagine the amount of people that have been through our kitchen and were blessed with a meal cooked by my dad. Our door was always open and he was happy to feed any hungry bellies that passed through because it always lead to great conversation.
(4) Let people know how you feel
Tell people you love them. Don't ever go a day without reminding those you hold closest to you how much you care. Bear hugs were usually his way of showing you how he felt.
(5) Teach your athletes sport skills and life skills
Football was more than just a sport to my dad, it was an avenue to teach boys to become men and empower athletes to succeed in life, not just in sport.
(6) Show, don't tell
"I love you dad" ... "SHOW ME, don't tell me" so that usually followed up with a big bear hug to prove to him that I did in fact love him, a lot. He often reminded me that actions speak louder than words and he could not be more right. It's one thing to say it, it's another thing to do it.
(7) Look and listen
My dad always made eye contact when we were talking (unless the Blue Jays were playing, then he'd multi-task), but he really actively listened when you were talking and it made you feel heard. I try to practice this with my athletes - actively listen to what they are saying to me.
(8) Pasta, Roma Pizza and Nardini's Sausage are their own food groups
I think every Italian that grew up in Hamilton could agree ... even though sometimes it grinded my gears that he wasn't listening to my nutrition advice, he always enjoyed those foods and the people that gathered to enjoy them with him.
(9) No drive is too long
The ULTIMATE uber driver. Would literally drive 6 hours just to watch myself or my brothers play a game, give us a hug and then drive home. Driving was one of his ways of helping others and never complained, no matter the distance.
(10) Never let go of a hug first
He never let go of a hug first, he would hold on forever if he could.
Judging by the amount of people at my dad's funeral, I know there are many others that have learned a lot from that man, and I'm so happy we were able to share him with so many people. I love my dad more than words can describe and though I hurt right now, I am using this experience as motivation to continue his legacy with my new group of athletes at York University, or anyone for that matter.
One of the last texts my dad sent me is as follows (emoticons included) ...
If you had the chance to meet my dad, feel free to leave a comment of your favourite memory of him - I know he'll be reading them.