Monday, November 26, 2018

Yep, It Takes a Village

Growing up, I remember watching the show The Wonder Years and the iconic song that intro'd each week's episode..."With a little help from my friends" by Joe Cocker. I can still hear that raspy voice welcoming me into the life of Kevin Arnold. Did you know the song was originally written for John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and Ringo sang it? Me neither. Hey, I can barely remember The Wonder Years, alright.
Wholesome family goodness. Photo: 20th Century Fox
Take a minute to let that song play from your glory days...

On the heels of Thanksgiving, moving into the most special time of year, I thought I'd share the most important part of my dissertation. 

No, it's not the earth-shattering findings, or the on-point APA formatting, it's actually the acknowledgements section. My name may be on the title page, but it took a village to achieve this dream. Honestly, I was doubtful of my ability to succeed on more than one occasion. But the village helped me prevail, and I am eternally grateful. 

As I doubt copies of my dissertation will be flying off the shelf, I thought this would be the best way to share my heartfelt appreciation to all those - and many more than called out in this excerpt - who helped make a dream of mine come true. God willing, I can reciprocate to each of you one day.


A project of this magnitude does not come to fruition by one’s own efforts, but is a reflection of the many individuals who selflessly supported the dream. I am indebted to my distinguished committee members. Dr. Anthony Dixon, my committee chair, for your guidance and keen ability to keep me on my toes throughout this process. Dr. Pakianathan Chelladurai, I consider it one of the great honors of my life to have the opportunity to learn from you, not just academically, but personally through your exceptional grace, humility, and kindness. Dr. Damon Andrew, for being the first person to encourage me down the path of doctoral studies and seeing something in me before I saw it in myself. Your guidance, mentorship, and friendship receives my heartfelt appreciation. Dr. Andrew Goldsmith, thank you for being my sounding board, helping me keep my sanity, and encouraging me countless times throughout this process. You have become a true friend, for which I am grateful.

The one person without whom I would not have achieved this goal is my husband, Stan. Thank you for encouraging me to jump off the dock and start swimming when I have the propensity to wait for the boat. You, my love, have my utmost respect.

Thank you to my parents, Tom and Carla Sherrick, who sagely taught me never to confuse education with intelligence and that education; however, is an achievement no one can take away. To my in-laws, Wyatt and Diane Stoll, for the many weekends helping with the kids so I could “hunker down”. My sisters, Jessica Sidener and Dana Shirley, and my brother-in-law, Aaron Shirley. I would not have survived this process without your humor, timely check-ins, and loving support. To my late brother-in-law, Tylor Sidener, thank you for watching over me from above. My “Kentucky parents”, Scott and Barb Schucknecht, thank you for your relentless encouragement.

I wish to express my sincere appreciation for the numerous colleagues in the sport tourism industry who served instrumental roles in this project. From those whom I interviewed, to those who have pushed my curiosity and inquiry in this field. Specifically, to my mentors Linda Logan, Kathy Nelson, Alan Kidd, Susan Shaw, Jon Schmieder, Gary Alexander, and Tammy Dunn. You are far beyond solely colleagues.

I am remiss if I do not mention my amazingly supportive friends – you know who you are – who have cheered for me, laughed with me, cried with me, delivered opportune doses of truth, and lived life courageously raw with me over these last couple of years. All of you epitomize love and loyalty. 

Thank you to my fellow Troy University classmate, Blake Price, for volunteering your time to assist on this project, and for your friendship. You are next.

I would also like to thank my mentors at the University of Louisville, who provided an excellent foundation for me to achieve this goal. To the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission board of directors, and the leadership at Colorado Mesa University, your willingness to give me wings to positively impact our community through sports has forever changed my life. Dr. Dick Bell, you strong-armed me into trying “just one class,” now look what happened. Thank you also to Gracey Higman and Stephanie Summar for your much appreciated assistance on this project. 

Lastly, I would like to thank my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Maribeth Sharkey. I have never forgotten you celebrating my passion for sports, and bestowing confidence in me.

As Elbert Hubbard said, "There is no failure except in no longer trying." Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey. This is Stoll on Sports. Next time I'll share some actual sport-related findings! 

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A long look back at the blink of an eye

I've often heard that when it comes to parenting the days are long, but the years are short. I think there is truth to that statement in really any effort we take on that has its ups and downs, its moments of pure joy and great despair. Marriage. Careers. Projects of any sort.

Here's an example from my own life. In the span of 10 days (Nov. 3 to Nov. 12) the following took place in good ol' Casa de Stoll:

1. Saturday, November 3: My team and I put on the 2018 US Bank Rim Rock Marathon.
2. Tuesday, November 6: Our little collaborative effort passed a lodging tax increase for our community - something that had not been done in 30 years.
3. Monday, November 12: I successfully defended my dissertation, marking the end of my doctoral studies.

I don't tell you all of this out of pride, or so you can say, "Oh my gosh! How'd you do that?!" But rather, as just one example of what we face every day - every week - in our respective lives/industries whether it's sport tourism or not. This is a snippet of my calendar, it's no better or worse than yours, they are all valid. We are ALL consumed by different pressures.

As the dust settles and I come out from frankly, what's been a state of numbness for the last couple of weeks, I'm beginning to process all of this, and here are some lessons I learned along the way:

5. It's absolutely, 100% okay to say that it IS a lot. Whatever "it" is in your life. I'm usually guilty of looking at how much others have to do and saying, "oh, I have no room to complain." WRONG. I don't have to complain, that's true, but I can accept the fact that what I'm doing - what YOU'RE doing - IS A LOT. And that's okay, it's actually good to acknowledge it.
#mylife We can all get like this, everyone's busy, and yes, rest is good
4. Only you can be your own advocate. I struggle with this lesson, but in the end, I realized to reach my goal, which was in the best interest of my family, I had to do the driving. This is hard for a person like me. I tried to remember to give others grace, after all, they are dealing with a lot, too, but there is nothing wrong with directing your own path.

3. Learning isn't about a degree or some alphabet soup behind your name. That may be an outcome, which is great, but there are so many avenues through which to learn. For me, the passion in this line of inquiry is actively contributing to an industry I love. Helping others who share the struggles, questions, and accomplishments I share. My path is just one path to meet that end, but there are infinite others. And the real thrill in it is what you do with your knowledge. Knowledge on a shelf is useless.
Seriously, do they still make this stuff? It looks disgusting!
2. Sounds cliche, but you can do more than you imagine. One of my board members astutely reminded me a couple weeks ago amid the sheer chaos, "the more you chill out, the more it works out." Was he ever right. Things don't always go our way, the tax could have failed, I could have major revisions to my dissertation...whatever the case may be. But, in the end, things work out. I'm always reminding my son that all that matters is that he tries his best and leave the rest...honestly most of the times I'm reminding him, I need to hear it myself.

1. Life is humbling...thankfully! I try not to make a huge deal out of things. Monday, I earned my PhD and Tuesday I got my ass handed to me in a game of checkers by my 6 year old. I mean, honestly, it was a complete shellacking and YES, I was actually trying. I smiled in my defeat, seeing his little mind light up and the grace with which he totally annihilated me...

The morals of these lessons are that it is indeed hard in the midst. Call it that. Take time to stop and look at how far you've come, even if it's just a step, because in retrospect, time does go fast. Keep grinding away, give it your best, that's all anyone can ask. We all win some and lose some, stay humble and whatever path you are on, enjoy it!

Remember, as the iconic Dolly Parton said, "You'll never do a whole lot unless you're brave enough to try." This is Stoll on Sports.