Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tale of the Tape: Thankful as Ever

Alyson Gramley, ATC

November 20, 2012

Basketball season is once again underway, as I write to you from the bus in Chattanooga, TN.  Four games into the season and we are 2-2, with a big win over Mississippi State to open the New Trojan Arena a few days ago and one last night against UT Chattanooga, our tournament host.  We have been up here since {honestly I am having a hard time even remembering what day it IS, let alone how long we have been here-today is Tuesday and we left home Saturday, I believe} … so that must mean we have been here since Saturday! One more game tonight and we are on the road back home for a full week ahead of us, with 4 games in 7 days. I am exhausted just thinking about it.

This marks the beginning of my ninth season full time at TROY and with the Men’s Basketball team. WOW how time flies…add to that three years as a Graduate Assistant and a few more years as a student and my time at TROY is adding up. Of course, no where in comparison to the time Coaches Maestri and Felix have been walking around campus seizing the day!

In those twelve years, I have been called many things in public and private, on the benches, in the locker rooms, and on the sidelines of football, volleyball, soccer, rodeo, and basketball…some nice, some not-so-nice; some from opponents and fans, some even as friendly fire.  I maintain my quest for invisibility as the only female in most situations.  I have accumulated dear friends from my soccer GA days, friends across a few different oceans, and some not-so-much friends scattered all over.  I have made many a cupcake and brownies and cookies for these “kids” and have bandaged a few wounds (physical and psychological alike) along the way as well.  It has not always been fun - for me or those around me.  To some I apologize. To others, we will just agree to disagree. 

Most recently I have been reminded as my quasi-status as “Team Mom” which has stirred a few thoughts in my mind. At the surface it is comical, but as it turns over and over in my mind it becomes a mission.  So indulge me as I try to get back into the blogging swing of things.

First and most importantly, I AM a mom! And if I have been on the road for twelve years with these surrogate kids of mine, how much time have I been away from my own child? Simple math makes me realize that one month on the road each year for 12 years would add up to a WHOLE YEAR I have been with other people’s children while my child was being raised by somebody else.  No wonder I can't believe she is as old as she is...I missed a year somewhere along the way.  That’s a deeply emotional thought that I would rather not investigate…

So in that time, I must ask myself "has my child been taken care of appropriately?" I would like to think so, although years of therapy may lie ahead. Often she is accommodated quite nicely by “Granny Mamma” and Pawpaw - my parents- who have raised her just as they did me - with love and discipline.  (Although I would like to speculate publicly the three Gramley Girls had more of one than the other) …or are the two concepts intertwined so closely that you can’t see one without the other?

More so on my mind: In those cumulative twelve years, have I cared for my team “kids” appropriately? These college kids- some who are away from home for the first time, whose parents may be ill or a long, long way away, but all who think they are invincible.  That question may not be so simply answered.

Do I dole out equal parts kindness, consideration, toughness? Not always.  Am I passionate about my job? Not always.  Do I make a difference? Better yet, do I make a POSITIVE difference? Not always.  Do athletes remember me fondly? Not always. But then again…my own child probably sees me in similar light as the thousands of children I have watched over for two, three, four, five years at a time.   She constantly reminds me that I have no sympathy when she is injured or ill.  She also is quick to relate that I treat her just like I treat my athletes…or is it the other way around?

In addition to my nine years with basketball, I have just completed my fifth trip around the sun with some football players.  I have watched them grow up physically and mentally (maybe more the former than the latter) and have witnessed some highs and lows along the way.  I will miss some of them more than others. I wish them success in their futures and hope they will come back to visit – much like the wishes of my own mom (and dad)!

In the end, we are all one big family (and sometimes even dysfunctional, at that).  All the experiences in your life shape you and those around you for better or worse, but it makes you who you are.  Be thankful for the opportunities you are given, even though they may seem to be keeping you from something “more important.” If you view your job as an inconvenience to your life, then maybe it is time to find another one…

Thankful as ever, Go TROJANS!

~alyson…the “team mom”