Ahh, the Christmas season. A time when collegiate winter athletes race home to enjoy two, maybe three (if you’re lucky) days surrounded by family and friends, edible (non-dining hall) food, and the comfort of their own beds. And, in my case, to have your mom do the laundry you’ve been neglecting for a while. Talk about a Christmas miracle.
It’s December 23rd as I write this waiting for my flight to depart. My first semester of graduate school is complete, National League games are on pause until the new year, and the holiday spirit is more than in full effect in Ireland. But . . . for the first time, I won’t be heading home for Christmas.
It was a difficult decision to make, but ultimately the opportunity to travel and experience a new culture these next several days was too much to pass up. Luckily I’ll be in great company, travelling with several members of my Sport Changes Life family to Munich, Germany. While I’m saddened by the fact I won’t be home to exchange gifts under our tree Christmas morning, I do want to take this moment to thank my family for the gifts given and lessons taught that have enabled me to have this incredible experience at this point in my life:
Mom, I can’t say I’ve come across a more selfless and caring individual in my lifetime. You consistently put the needs and feelings of others above your own, rarely with a second-thought. Your self-sacrifices certainly do not go unappreciated by me, and you have made your family and community better because of them. You’ve always been an outlet for me to confide in no matter the time or place. You’ve taken my friends in and treated them as your own. Most importantly though, you’ve shown me the value of giving and ‘passing it forward’. I hope to carry this lesson with me and inspire others as you’ve inspired me.
Dad, you’re the physical embodiment of grit and hardwork. Rain or shine, in sickness or in health, you’ve awaken each morning ready to tackle the tasks in front of you. You’ve never settled nor become complacent with your standing ― starting from very little, you’ve faced adversity every step of the way, yet you continue to persevere. You’ve made so many personal sacrifices to ensure mom, Ally, and I have been able to grow up in a secure environment with everything (and much more) than we could ever want and need. These words cannot even begin to thank and repay you for the life of opportunities and experiences you’ve provided me, but I hope you know how highly I look at you as a man and father. If I can possess even half the work-ethic you have, I’ll be satisfied.
Ally, I know it can’t be easy living in the shadows of your parents’ favorite child, but you’ve handled it with class (did you really think this would start any other way?). All kidding aside, you have constantly served as the benchmark for which I compare myself. Division I athlete, full scholarship to law school, a community leader ― your success has pushed me to better myself in all aspects of life. I couldn’t have asked for a better sibling to fight with, learn from, and grow with. As long as you keep raising the bar, just know I’ll be right there behind you trying to keep up.
To the rest of my Rivard, DiDomenico, and Ditullio clan back stateside, I can’t thank you all enough for your well wishes and continued support. Knowing I have such a strong support system back home has made this transition abroad that much easier.
Merry Christmas everyone, and happy New Year! Love and miss you all.