Thursday, February 10, 2011

Week 14 and 15 letter

Hello my dearest little one. I am sorry that I failed to write you a letter last week. I would try and say I was very busy, but the truth is, I just wasn't quite sure what to say. My intention was to tell you about the way the world is today--the world that will become your home in a few short months. But that was difficult because sometimes, it is hard to see the true beauty in the world. The truth is, there are a lot of terrible things that happen in our world, and I wish so desperately that I could shelter you from them forever. I know I cannot, but I certainly am not prepared to share those things quite yet.

So I thought, instead, I would share with you a story of love. Pardon me for copying and pasting, but I feared that if I included just the link, it may disappear by the time I can print this out for you.

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Wilson honors fallen coach's memory with big season
By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
Posted: 02/07/2011 09:29:53 PM PST

There's an empty space on the Wilson High School girls basketball team's bench where longtime head coach Ed Bruyninckx used to sit.

His chair has a cover that reads "Coach Ed," and although nobody sits there anymore, everybody in the Wildcats' gym can still see him, like he always was, intently watching his girls play.

This year's team believes Bruyninckx, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack at his home in September, is still watching them and is very proud of what's taking place.

And why wouldn't he be?

The Wildcats are on a 15-game winning streak. They've already clinched the Hacienda League championship with two games to go, but are looking for perfection in league because that's what Coach Ed would have expected ... in addition to, of course, his girls having a good time.

"I think he's a part of every minute of it," Wildcats team captain Kaci Calton said. "He's always with us. We know he's looking over us and we want to do our best."

Bruyninckx, 57, had just finished his nightly workout on Sept. 26 when he died. That night, his longtime assistant coach Tracy Calton had the unenviable duty of relaying the tragic news to the players.

"Oh my gosh, that's something I wouldn't wish on anybody," said Tracy Calton, who is now Wilson's head coach after being Bruyninckx's assistant for the past 11 years. "It was very difficult. It was hard on all of them, regardless of how long they'd been at Wilson. He was just a great person, who treated everybody well."
Calton's two daughters, Kaci and Kelli, both play on the team. They took it especially hard, having known Bruyninckx their entire lives. The school brought in counselors, but the team refused to speak with them, instead preferring to speak with Calton.

After being given a week off, Wilson's players resumed practicing in early October, but not before Calton gave each player a letter he wrote. The letter told the team that Coach Bruyninckx was more excited about the upcoming season than any other Calton could remember, which made little sense at the time considering Wilson had graduated one of the area's best players in Naijah Calhoun and had no similar talent to replace her.

"I had to write them a letter because I'm such an emotional person that I couldn't get through talking to them about it," Calton said. "I had talked to Ed for quite a while about this team and he was excited about the new league and the great summer we had with the kids. This was probably the season he was looking forward to more than any in the time I've known him and that we've coached together."

Bruyninckx obviously knew something most others didn't, but it wasn't apparent right away. Wilson started out 3-6, but hasn't lost since. What's more, the Wildcats are doing it without any player averaging double figures in points.

But given all that the Wildcats have been through, they know how to play as a team because they've grieved as a team.

Junior guard Jaimie Hou leads Wilson with 9.7 points per game. Four other girls average between four and nine points.

"We just want to do everything for Ed," Hou said. "We knew how excited he was for this season. It's very special to us because this is like accomplishing something for Ed. We worked really hard to get to where we are and we just want to make him proud.

"He would be really proud of us right now and would want us to keep working and trying to improve."

At 18-6 overall and 10-0 in league, the Wildcats have games this week against Pomona and San Dimas standing between themselves and a perfect league season. After that, they'll turn their attention toward the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.

Commemorating Bruyninckx's death, some of Wilson's league opponents have worn wristbands that read, "In Loving Memory of Coach Ed." The Wildcats and their coaches do the same.

The grieving process is ongoing at Wilson, where Bruyninckx also served as softball coach for the past six seasons. For now, the memory of a coach loved by so many rests in the hands of the basketball team that still misses him greatly.

"It's kind of like something's missing when I look over at the bench during games," Hou said. "I can't let if affect me, but there's still quite a bid of sadness. We're still missing him. We're missing his encouragement and his entertainment."

Following Wilson's league title-clinching victory over Baldwin Park on Friday, Calton wrote his team another letter. This one detailed what the team had been through and what it had accomplished since the previous letter.

It closed by simply stating, "I know Ed is proud, smiling, and happy for each of you. Some day, in some way, he will thank you for realizing his goals for this season."

This is Coach Ed's Chair, and your daddy. At the game they were so excited to play.
The reason I share this with you, dearest LPG, is because Coach Ed has touched the lives of both of your parents. He will undoubtedly shape yours as we chase Daddy's big dreams together. You see, a few years ago, your daddy had the unfortunate pleasure of coaching with a very negative man. Without going into too many details, he nearly killed Daddy's spirit and love of coaching. It caused your Daddy to be passed over for a position he thought he deserved, furthering the questions he had about his future in the career. But Coach Ed saved us from all of that.

He offered your daddy a position coaching girls--something he thought he would never want to do. Before too long, he felt at home with his girls, and in Coach Ed's program. It revitalized his love of coaching, and reignited his dream of being a varsity coach. After a solid year of working together, Coach Ed agreed to be a reference for Daddy as he applied for head coaching positions.

LPG, I cannot lie. There was a lot of heartbreak on our journey to Daddy's current job. He applied, interviewed, and nearly secured multiple positions, but none worked out. Until one day in July. Your daddy interviewed for a school he was sure wouldn't pick him--it is big and well known. But within hours, the school called and said that Daddy was their man. He would be coaching their Girls Varsity Program. LPG, short of finding out about you, and our wedding day, that moment was one of the greatest of our lives. Your Daddy's dreams began to come true. And we owe that, in part, to Coach Ed. He gave his recommendation, and he is a well-known and respected coach. He encouraged Daddy to chase his dreams, even though he hated to lose him from his own program. He even made sure to sign up in the same fall league as Daddy, so that their teams could go head-to-head.

It is with the heaviest heart that we played that game, however, because Coach Ed passed away before the game came to be. He is desperately missed. I know that many times throughout the season, when Daddy was feeling the struggles of his first year as a head coach, he wished he could call Coach Ed. He wished he could talk to him, and get his confidence and hear his reassuring words. But even though he isn't physically here, Coach Ed has impacted our lives so greatly. We are so very thankful for his life. His legacy will live on, both in his girls, and wherever your daddy's career goes. Because no matter where he goes, Daddy will always give credit to Coach Ed for repositioning him on his path of destiny.

LPG, Coach Ed is an example of the beauty that exists in our world today. The pure goodness and love shared by regular people. I hope that no matter what darkness you see in our world, you can cling to that example, and know that such purity can still be found. We know that Coach Ed is among those who are watching over you, and will be celebrating joyfully when you are born.

We love you, dearest.
Love, Mommy

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