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Thursday, September 11, 2014

NEVER FORGET: THE ATHLETES THAT IMPACTED SEPTEMBER 11

On the 10th Anniversary of 911, Rick Reilly wrote an amazing piece for ESPN.com titled "Let's Keep Rolling."  The reference was into one of the passengers on Flight 93, Todd Beamer who told a small group "Let's Roll" before they altered the history of our nation. 

Rick's column began:
The first battle in the renewed war against terrorism wasn't waged in Fallujah or Kandahar or Tikrit. It was held 32,000 feet above Pittsburgh, on Sept. 11, 2001.

And it wasn't soldiers who led the battle.

It was four athletes, pushing a food cart.

This morning at our 6 AM workout, I took time in the middle of the workout to talk about September 11 with our team.  One of my biggest fears with this generation as that they live so much in the moment -- they don't take the time to study history -- to learn from history.

We talked about the great joy of being able to get up and condition this morning.  We talked about the freedoms we have because of the sacrifice of so many that we've never met.  And we talked about the importance of this day.  Not because it's September 11 -- but because it's today.  Nothing is promised.

We talked about how can we be the least bit upset about running in the morning.  How does that compare to the discomfort that fireman faced running up the stairs of the towers.

And we talked about just what we want to accomplish through athletic competition.  It's not about winning our opening game of the season or even striving to win the last game of the season to claim a championship.

It's about life lessons.  Rising early to drive them pass a level of comfort through conditioning isn't just about getting them ready to play 40 minutes -- it's about preparing them to work through discomfort 5 years from now...10 years from now...40 years from now.

Some line drills this morning will pale in comparison to some of life's challenges that they will face later.

But it's what makes athletics great -- the lessons of hard work, sacrifice, team work...it is what helped Todd Beamer (former shortstop at Wheaton College), Jeremy Glick (NCAA Judo Champion), Mark Bingham (National Rugby Champion), and Tom Burnett (outstanding high school quarterback) storm the cockpit on Flight 93 and stop it from continuing it's path to Washington, DC.

Talking about putting the team above self.  On that day, WE were ALL on their team -- and they thought about US!  As Burnett told his wife via phone on Flight 93: "I know we're going to die. Some of us are going to do something about it."

Reilly also writes of those families left behind:

Many of the families of the Flight 93 victims have stayed close. So close, in fact, 24 of them will run in the New York City Marathon in November as a team, led by the sister, Kiki, of one of the slain pilots, Leroy Homer, a former high school track star.

You might recognize them. They'll probably be wearing T-shirts that read: They didn't quit. Neither will we.

Reilly's column is one of his very best -- you can read it in it's entirety here.