This really nice article from the Hartford Courant from a while back is about Dennis Lobo, father of Rebecca, UConn Women’s Basketball’s first transcendent star, a class act in every way, and a big, big name in our house. Granby High School has just named its track for him. Here’s a story:
In the fall of 1995, seven months or so after the University of Connecticut won that first championship, led by Rebecca, who was the national player-of-the-year, our daughter was a freshman cross-country runner for her high school. She was injured for a big invitational meet, but went along to lend moral support. It’s tedious to be at a meet and not be running. Her teammates were stretching, jogging the course, checking footing, and getting ready to race while she sat against a tree and tried to do a little homework. Eventually she noticed a bit of a flurry at some distance, a crowd gathering for no obvious reason. She wandered over and found … Rebecca Lobo, chatting with runners and signing autographs. Dennis Lobo, Rebecca’s cross-country coach father, had brought her along to the meet.
To H at age 14, Rebecca Lobo was a god-like figure, the peerless exemplar of everything she admired and wanted to be. When Rebecca turned to her and said hello, she was, literally, speechless. She tried to respond, but couldn’t talk. Awe struck her dumb. She remembers Rebecca trying to loosen her up, asking a few questions, making a few comments, but all she could do was nod or shake her head. She did get an autograph, and was able to gulp, “Thank you,” but that was it. Her chance to talk with her ideal, and she couldn’t unstick her tongue.
When she got home, she walked in the door, said to her mother, “Guess who I met at the meet?” and then burst into tears of intense emotion. As unlikely as it seemed, her mom knew immediately the only person who could have elicited this response. “Did you meet Rebecca?,” she asked.
And the story came out, amid tears, hugs, exclamations, and, eventually smiles and laughter.
These days H is pretty impressive herself. But I think if she ran into Rebecca today, she’d still be briefly speechless. What do you say to someone whose mere presence once stopped your tongue? Whose effort and character helped reinforce your own? Who has remained utterly admirable through triumph and hardship? Probably, another “Thank you” would be about right.