"Creativity is contagious, pass it on." ~Albert Einstein

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


This is a blog post two years in the making.  I've always had a hard time trying to find the words to describe this experience.  It was one of the best days in my teaching/coaching career. I feel as though my vocabulary isn't strong enough to describe the events of that summer day in July of 2017.

Let's go back to December 1, 2016.  One of our social studies teachers does a tremendous job of utilizing community members in her American History class.  On this particular day, I tagged along with her class to the local retirement and assisted living center here in our town.   The teacher had arranged for six World War II veterans to speak to some of the students in her class.  I was giddy with excitement as this was my favorite topic to teach when I was teaching World History in my previous position. 

When we walked into the room reserved for us at the retirement center, I had a hard time holding back my emotions.  Right before me sat six of the best human beings I had ever met in my 45 years.  A couple of them were in wheelchairs, the rest sat patiently at the table, ready to chat with our students.  Over the next hour, these veterans engaged in a conversation that left me speechless.  Our students had the opportunity to ask questions, but a majority of our time was spent listening to these veterans share their stories of service.

As our time with these veterans neared an end, one veteran pulled me off to the side for a conversation.  "Bud" proceeded to tell me that he knew I was the high school golf coach and inquired as to if I knew that he had won a state championship with the 1943 golf team. Surprised, I admitted that I had no idea and Bud told me to check out their trophy that resided in the state championship trophy case in the high school cafeteria. 

As soon as our group departed the retirement center and got back to school, I headed over to the trophy case that Bud had mentioned.  Sure enough, there was a trophy from 1943.  "Aurora High School-Class B State Sand Greens Champions-Boys Golf." I smiled and gazed at the five, spry young men proudly wearing their lettermans sweaters. 


Over the next several months, I stayed in touch with Bud and learned more about his story.  Bud was a pilot and transported troops in his C-47. He flew missions during Operation Market Garden.  When we met again, he even broke out his aviator glasses, gloves and one of the neatest pieces of World War II memorabilia I'd have ever seen, Bud's flight log.  Every single mission, logged into that tiny book.  

Now, it's May 2017.  Time for the Nebraska Class B State Golf Tournament.  I had a feeling as a coach going in that we would finish in the top 3, but you never know with golf.  There was one team that had played really well all season and I knew that it would take a monumental effort by our team to upset them.  

It happened.  

We played our best golf of the season firing rounds of 300-305 to bring home Aurora's second Boys Golf state championship...74 years after Bud and his team had won theirs.   

On the drive home for our golf tournament, my mind wandered to Bud and his story.  I wanted to get a picture capturing him (the only survivor from the 1943 team) and our 2017 state champions.  I made some calls and we were finally able to get together in July.  I was able to acquire the state championship trophy from 1943 and the one we had won three months earlier.  None of our team members had met Bud yet, so it was a surreal moment as Bud walked across the street from his home to the golf course to meet our team members.  He proceeded to us about each of his teammates and what had become of them after they graduated.  Some served during the war, some stayed back in Aurora.  None of them were alive, except Bud.  

It was an extremely powerful moment as a coach and dad. I was so glad that our team was able to spend that magical 30 minutes with Bud as we chatted, laughed and finally took a team picture with Bud's state championship trophy from 1943 and the one we just won in 2017. 

Bud continues to be a "member" of our team.  I like to have him out each spring to chat with our golf team.  He is an avid supporter and attends all of our home competitions.  

I am so grateful for the game of golf and the special friendship it has created with this amazing human being. 


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