Nov. 3, 2010
Last weekend was filled with many emotions! Anyone involved with the Southern Miss football game-including players, coaches, staff, donors and fans- were understandably upset after the one-point overtime loss to UAB on Saturday. The many feelings included being mad, devastated, hurt and just downright frustrated.
About an hour after the game several of us were visitng with Jeff Hammond, retired U. S. Army General and former Southern Miss quarterback, who just joined our staff. Jeff said something very profound to Coach Fedora and several of us who were discussing the outcome. "You learn the most from adversity and not when you win but when you lose. Adversity builds character and everyone will learn from this game."
I really received a dose of reality on Sunday morning when I stepped on a bus with seven members of our women's golf team, Coach Julie Gallop and several other administrators to travel to Atlanta to the funeral of our red-shirt freshman golfer, Lauren Judson's parents. Jim and Beth Judson died in tragically in a private airplane crash last Tuesday. They were flying back to Atlanta after watching Lauren and the Golden Eagle Golf team play in a tournament in Memphis. They were flying back so they could go to High Point, NC on Wednesday to watch their son, Dean, play in a soccer match at High Point College to determine the conference champion and a possible bid to the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament.
Seeing the love that our golf team displayed for each other, and the love and support they provided to Lauren and her family at the visitation on Monday evening was amazing. As I sat among the 1,000 or more that attended the funeral Mass on Monday, I realized that games are won and lost; championships come and go, but the most important thing in this world is life itself, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Jim and Beth had it all. Both were very successful in business. Jim was a pioneer in the 1990's in developing the technology for the call-center industry and Beth was a noted scientist with a Ph.D. in Ceramic Engineering. Jim had sold the company in the early 2000's and became a most generous contributor to his church, Wake Forest, his alma mater, Southern Miss, High Point College and many other charitable associations in the Atlanta area. The Judson's loved life, they loved their church and most importantly they loved their children, family and friends.
It reminded me once again that life is so short and we need to live each day as it is our last and love our families, friends and co-workers. I know my life was inspired with the experience I had in Atlanta with our women's golf team and the Judson family. In talking about love and death, Ed Astor said it best, "Death leaves a heart ache that will never heal; however, love leaves a heart that no one can steal."
The love I experienced in Atlanta will make me a better husband, father, grandfather, athletic director and friend. The sting from the UAB game is gone and a renewed spirit has overcome me that I will work that much harder to do my part to make Southern Miss athletics the best it can be. Lauren and Dean Judson, our women's golf team and football team all experienced adversity last week; however, their character will be stronger for the experience and tomorrow will be a much better day!
Hope you will join me and our football team in New Orleans this weekend for the Tulane game.