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Thoughts on Gratitude

Many of you know that the Corn Nation family suffered a terrible, sudden, surprising loss when Brian Towle passed away earlier this year. We also realize how much that loss hit people outside of our little community. I speak on behalf of all of us when I say thank you. Our gratitude to those who reached out is profound. Brian’s presence in and beyond our community is missed and felt to this day.

Again, thank you.

At the same time, there’s great excitement in the CN family as my wife is due to give birth to our first child, a son, on December 2nd. Brian was one of the first to offer his congratulations. As many of you know, babies do this at their own pace, so we’re anticipating him any day now. I’ve moved past the abject terror I felt up until about two weeks ago to genuine excitement mixed with nerves. I’ve never done this before. My wife and I have a rabbit who has a pretty happy life, but a person?! Whoa.

All of these thoughts swirled in my head as I headed up to play volleyball the other night and in the throes of what is a... disappointing... Husker (and Bronco) football season, I thought that maybe, just maybe, this was the time to write about gratitude- what it means to me and the things, obvious or not, that I’m grateful for.

In 2011, I took a leap of faith and moved from Denver to Omaha. Now if you’d known me before that, there’s no way you’d have EVER guessed that would be a thing I’d do. I was an atypical Colorado kid (yes, even though I was 30, I still thought of myself as a Colorado KID). I have skied less than a handful of times in my life because when I was four and a half, my parents gave me a snowmobile rather than my mom getting a motorcycle. I never looked back. I have friends who ski, and I’ve joined them a few times, but I prefer snowmobiling for a variety of reasons.

I grew up 10 miles from Folsom Field. I got my undergrad from the University of Colorado... at Colorado Springs. I love the Broncos, Nuggets, and Avs. I root for the Rockies if when I take any interest in baseball. Martin Truex, Jr. is my favorite NASCAR drive because his team’s based in Denver. However, I’ve been a Husker fan since I was about ten, though I was definitely a Buffs fan when they won their natty. My aunt and uncle lived in Laurel, Nebraska and wanted to convert one of their nephews (I have one younger brother). I was either weak-minded or smart depending on your upbringing.

I moved for a volleyball coaching job at the College of St. Mary in Omaha. I didn’t stay there because I wanted to continue teaching and couldn’t do that coaching college volleyball. Then I moved to Lincoln because my girlfriend (who became my wife) was starting grad school at UNL. I replied to a tweet from Salt Creek and Stadium that mentioned the desire to have a volleyball writer for CN. I had written for a website previously. I played high school volleyball and have been coaching since I was 21. It felt like a great fit.

This has become longer and more about me than I meant. I’m sorry for that but it feels like the right way to go about this right now. Covering Husker Volleyball has been a dream that I didn’t even know I had before it started. I worked a Husker Team Camp in 2009 (I actually worked with Alicia Ostrander’s team at that camp), and being part of the media covering this group is such a blessing.

I’ll never forget sitting courtside in 2015 when the Huskers swept Texas for the National Championship in Omaha. I interviewed Tim Beck when he was the Huskers Offensive Coordinator. I traveled to Columbus last year to again cover the Final Four. If all goes well with the baby and the Huskers make the championship match this year, I’m planning to go to Kansas City.

I get the chance to follow and write about Husker sports, volleyball in particular, in a way that most couldn’t even imagine. I have amazing parents in Marcia and Gene Peteranetz who were absolutely the authority figures growing up, but found the right timing and way to become our friends as became adults. My dad is one of my very best friends.

I’m grateful for many things in this life. I have a wife who puts up with me (no small feat, I assure you). I’m grateful for any of you out there who take time to read and respond to the pieces I write.

In this world, and the Husker world in particular right now, there are a lot of reasons to feel fear, insecurity, and uncertainty. I don’t want to get specifically into the reasons why, because I’m not writing this to stir up anger, bad feelings, and a nasty comment thread. I choose positivity and optimism. I always have. Ask anyone how annoying it is sometimes!

This is a time of year that we think about gratitude and are often asked to share the things we’re thankful for. I’m thankful for so many things in this life. I hope that you are too. I hope that you take time to think about them as we proceed into the holiday season and the end of 2017.

Thanks for reading this, my other pieces, and all of Corn Nation. We truly appreciate each of you.