I have a new hero…

…and I’ve never even met her. Liz Clark is my new hero, and it’s because she’s teaching great things to my daughter Natalie.

Several weeks ago, I blogged about my own examples of excellence, people that make me want to strive to be the best I can be. I admitted it was a somewhat boyish and nerdy list, and asked for some examples from women of people they admire. Liz is added to my list, and she’s on Natalie’s list now, too.

Last summer, Natalie went to a basketball camp at George Fox University, never having played on a team or even in a game in her life. That’s where I first saw Liz, getting ready to enter her senior season on the women’s basketball team, helping out at the camp. I watched her help my daughter feel comfortable, build confidence, and have a great week. I made a mental note that I was impressed.

I took Natalie to the homecoming game a few weeks ago, and got to see Liz in action on the court. Natalie noticed her first: “There’s Liz! She was at my camp!” She’s an unbelievably tenacious defender, always moving, always seeming to be where the ball is. Another mental note: I LOVE hustle. I LOVE hard work. I LOVE people who excel because they want it more than anybody else. So I started telling Natalie what I noticed, what I loved about what she was doing.

Then came last night. George Fox hosted a second round game in the NCAA Division III playoffs. During the national anthem, my eyes were on Liz. Her hands were clasped, with the index fingers together and sticking out, like I did as a kid playing guns. Only she had the fingers held up to her pursed lips, as she swayed back and forth, back and forth, just waiting, almost longing for the song to end so they could tip it off. By the end she’s bouncing up and down, up and down, and I thought…”This is going to be fun to watch!”

And it was. She was everywhere on the floor; denying a pass, pushing the break. Everywhere the ball was, there was Liz. By the end of the night she had 12 points and 20…TWENTY rebounds.

But she was more than the numbers. She was the heart and soul and the energy of that team. She pulled them together in the huddle, and with the Bruins up by 30 and a victory well in hand, the coach emptied the bench. One of the reserves drained a gorgeous three…and there’s Liz again, jumping, yelling, cheering, waving her warm up shirt in the air, celebrating.

There’s a person I can admire, and there’s a woman I’d love for my girls to have as a model. You can believe I’ll be watching to see the results next weekend as the team travels to Virginia to the Sweet 16 to play St. Benedicts.

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