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Touched by Boldness, Caring, Courage & Excellence

Touched by Boldness, Caring, Courage & Excellence

Touched by Boldness, Caring, Courage & Excellence

Tuesday morning, October 25, 2016

Laying in bed thinking about a million things, one of them is being touched by boldness, caring, courage and excellence. The first thought that enters my mind is a Sunday morning while sitting in our usual church pew at Lutheran Church of the Cross over the years. There is a tap on my shoulder and it’s a former NFL football great that is beyond humble. Then another tap and “good morning, Gringo and Claire, how’s it going?”  It’s a 1980 Miracle on Ice defenseman and a friend since he was a youth hockey player @ summer hockey camp. The couple in front of us was associated with Brainerd’s last State Basketball Championship. While the word excellence hits my mind, the words boldness, caring, courage and humble are equally visible.

My thoughts turn to Herb Brooks and Craig Patrick, two men who I mention together because they were a team of two that worked for one cause in 1980 and years after. Their winning ways altered lives; and this can only be matched. They always had each other’s back. George Gund III enters my mind and emotions flow because two of the three are deceased and they had so much to do with our lives, along with Craig.  I think of my scouting partners over the years, one a seventeen (17) year pro, one a pioneer for European players, another 11 year pro, another a Vezina Trophy winner, another an OHL scoring leader, and one who has won three Stanley Cups with Chicago after leaving Pittsburgh and he has his footprints all over the one in Pittsburgh. Chief Scouts and HHOF worked for and with are a touch of excellence in their own way and we have so many great memories together.

We’ve been witness to Cyndi Lauper taking the time to bring us in to her busy life; and fun to watch Claire love every moment. Claire has done Christmas decorations in Cyndi’s honor with a vase Cyndi gave her and she has a poster of Cyndi hanging in a prominent place.

Minnesota Hockey Camps enters my mind and all these faces and names show up. Believe me when I say they have a touch of boldness, caring, courage and excellence. The summer camps have been our way of life for close to fifty (50) years. Anyone committed to youth has a touch of excellence on their resume. Campers and parents pop up and the faces flash by; many tied to excellence because of achievements and caring levels for their children and our camp. So many of them have a passion for all they do. Dino, Carrie, Roby, Dan and staff are in charge of our mission in life. We received a text from Dan saying, “As time moves on, every one of your worries will go down and ours will go up to the necessary (required) level.” We believe him.

Then there are all the teams we mentored along with the students we worked with in our classes. The list goes on and on and another face pops up; some of them parents of athletes and students and fellow teaching staff/coaches we worked with over the years. There is boldness, caring, courage and excellence at every age and every level. You do not need to reach the so called top to be bold, courageous and excellent. All of this has played a role in our career and life. In many respects we owe our career and life to a group of overachieving teenagers that got us jump started to the NHL.

The faces of our children and extended family pop up and I think about all who embrace adversity and show a lot of determination and try in doing the best they can in life with each situation. How about the professional athletes who take time to train with us; some even donating to our camp because they believe in our mission in life? We are grateful.

This morning I’m thinking about Bill Radovich and his wife, his contributions and vision for St Cloud State University Division I hockey as well as Bob Motzko and his staff creating a culture that some coaches can only dream of creating; a group of selfless young men on a mission who were just recently team building at our Minnesota Hockey Camps site at Minnewawa Lodge on Clark Lake in Nisswa, MN.

Yesterday I was thinking about the President of the Penguins reaching out to us so many times and the Wild GM and his assistant reaching out each year. Tomorrow we will think of something else because our lives have been filled with so many great memories; too many to list.

All of this to this point is a touch of boldness, caring, courage and excellence.

Most importantly, I look at the person fast asleep next to me on this morning and I see the most beautiful, bold, caring, courageous, prettiest and strongest person I’ve ever met and she has no makeup on her face. Believe me when I say Clairene Grillo is the epitome of boldness, caring, courage and excellence. She embraces battles in life. She has a resume in the camp business that can only be matched; much of it a battle keeping our camp alive and well the past thirty-eight (38) years. She took on Cancer three years ago and won that battle; but only for one year. She never missed a day of work and her caring level deepened. She suffered a recurrence after two years cancer free and once again she will win battles some wouldn’t think of winning. When I think about all of these people with a touch of boldness, caring, courage and excellence, she goes right to the top of the list.

One of the first things she said when finding out about her cancer: “I’m glad it’s me and not one of our kids.”

There are things we’ve learned from Claire about battles in life:  “You win one and then you guard against complacency because there will be another one. Make sure you eat right, sleep right, exercise right and have a positive mind-set. If you embrace the challenge and show lots of determination and try to excel, you have the best possible chance of winning.” This is a touch of boldness, caring, courage and excellence and also an awareness that doing something out of the ordinary (like excelling) means you are required to do it again and again as expectations go to a higher level. This is: “How Life Works”

Claire does everything both hard and smart. She is a prototype for high energy and efficient effort. She is the most authentic and ordinary person I know and fun in any setting.

Peace of Mind is no different. It’s a never ending search until our Lord calls us home. In our never ending search for Peace of Mind we both get up every day, knowing we never arrive, hoping to be better in some way that will change the lives of others and even our own; and my love, loyalty and respect for her goes to yet another level. December 12, 2016 will mark forty-six (46) years as a couple and for that we are both grateful.

“Aspiring athletes have a chance when they recognize early on that every day is game day and every night is opening night which prepares us for what’s ahead.” This approach in life keeps us ready for the unknown we are facing in uncharted waters. We take care of each other out of love and respect. Cancer creates caring; the catalyst for finding true love. It comes with a warning to eliminate taking life and relationships for granted.

We get up each morning; have a coffee in our camp cup that has the following saying tastefully done by our daughter-in-law: “Wake up. Seize the Day. Go to Bed. Repeat.”

Fortunately our life’s work has giving us an opportunity to forge many relationships that will be revered and treasured. We have a lot to be grateful for during tough times and she will be first to agree.

When we experience crisis in our lives, it brings more meaning to our feelings about something and/or someone. My message to Claire the other day:  “I just want you to know that I share and carry your burdens as you battle this disease. When you are hurt physically or mentally, I hurt.  Like you, it’s constantly on my mind. I just want you to know that I am all in when it comes to being there for you. It’s never that I will not do something. I just don’t know how or when, but I am trying. I love you!”

“Every one of our days is game day and every one of our nights is opening night.”


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