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Inspiration

I don’t believe it talent. I believe that we are who we are because of how we are raised, for the most part. That is a whole other post by itself.

I believe in out working, out smarting, and preparing for anything.

I love this video. When I first saw it I immediately linked it to Facebook. I haven’t ever been a huge fan of Will Smith, but this made me think… “He gets it.”

Sorry for the bad link. I got it right this time.

Just A Little Update

First of all… I wanted to share a photo with everybody. The letter I got tattooed on my arm was great and I knew I wanted it, but I also knew I wanted to add something more. I had tons of ideas but nothing seemed to fit. Finally I decided that I wanted anybody to that saw it, even at a glance, to know that the tattoo was a memorial for somebody. This is what I came up with.

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I feel like it is pretty self explanatory. Andrea Bailes meant the world to me. I said recently in conversation that she was one of the kids that kept me sane in the gym. Her effort, focus, and desire were never in question. When I asked her to do something, I always saw something change. It might not have been right or perfect, but there was effort to change and improve. Always. I might add more tattoos in the future, but they will all be much more easily covered.

The other thing I wanted to share is that I have tons of ideas for articles in the near future and I am going to get back to typing soon. Between the accident and all that surrounded it, the trip to Texas, our first meet, Christmas, and New Years… It has been non stop. I wanted to get the information out that I got from Texas and I did that. I oddly felt relief when I hit publish. I think I just needed to get that out of the way. I feel recharged and ready to go now. Anyways… more posts coming soon! Tons and tons of ideas are swirling in my head. Be on the lookout on Facebook and Twitter. Also be sure to check my YouTube channel because I am going to keep posting drills and other videos there. You can find links to all of these at the top of the screen.

Perspective

I want to share something with everybody. Friday, November 18th, 2011 started like any other day for me. There was nothing particularly special about my morning and early afternoon. I remember that I drove to work alone because my fiancé rode to work with her mother early that day. They were cleaning and setting up for the in house meet we were going to have the next morning. I had grabbed Red Bull and had my music blaring in the car. Work was normal on this day, except I had my two level nines come in because they had missed a day earlier in the week. All the gymnasts did pretty well and I did a private with a little one afterwards.

We got in the car and headed back home. My fiancé and I got sushi, which we both love and don’t eat very often. When we got home our favorite show, Fringe, was on the television. I posted to Facebook, “Sushi, Fringe, my warm house, and my beautiful fiancé. Content.” The day was a good day. I love Red Bull and I love blaring my music in the car as well. I was completely happy and content with my life. I had everything I could ask for in life.

I got a text message a little bit later in the night. It said, “Did you hear about Andrea?” I replied that I had not and I asked what happened. A few minutes later I received a call. The voice on the phone said. “Andrea was in an accident… … She didn’t make it.” I will never forget this moment in my life. I will never forget my thoughts, my feelings, or any detail of this exactly moment in time. It is burned so brightly into my mind that there is no way I could ever forget it. The sniffles that I heard on the line, the long pause in between the two sentences, the look on my fiancé’s face, and the reaction I witnessed are all so vivid.

I turned to Facebook, like I usually do. A quick note on this before I continue with my story. I watched a video about social networking sites that changed my perspective on them. What happens to your Facebook or Twitter when you are dead? What will it reflect? I have come to view these as kind of the story of my life and not just a way to keep up on gossip. This, sadly, has been proven by the Facebook page of Andrea Bailes. Back on track, my next post read, “I feel like I am going to puke. This is something I never wanted to experience in my career as a coach. I am numb. I can’t believe this happened to one of the most amazing girls I have had the pleasure of knowing.”

The point of this story is perspective. Friday, November 18th, 2011 was a wonderful day and I was so happy with where my life was and where it seemed to be heading. In the blink of an eye my entire life changed, as did the lives of many others. I will never be the same. In the past four weeks I have learned more about life than in almost twenty-five years of life.

I have done the most difficult things in the past four weeks that I have ever done in my life. I have had to tell little children their friend was dead. I spent about four hours typing up the post about Andrea, which was much more difficult than anything I have ever done. I had to carry her casket. Most recently I had to coach a level seven session without her. All of this has changed me, especially as a coach.

Life is fragile, precious, and short. In an instant your whole world can be flipped upside down. Count your blessings and make the best of everything that you do.

A Small Reminder

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It has been almost exactly one week since Andrea Bailes lost her life. Right now the memories and emotions are still burning strong and bright. I know that eventually they will fade. I wanted something I could see every day and remind me of Andrea and all that was so great about her. I plan on getting another tattoo eventually to remind me of the key things that were so amazing about her that I always want to remember and take with me through my life. It is possible that I will expand upon this one also, but for now it is perfect. And beautiful, I think.

Thanksgiving

I hope everybody’s Thanksgiving was good. I feel like I should still be active posting things right now, but I am completely drained. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. I need to take a small break and recharge myself before I head off to Texas next week. I will, hopefully, be giving constant updates from the Karolyi Ranch.

I do have something to say. No matter who you are or what you are doing (or did) or who you are with… Make sure that you take time to appreciate what you have. Not the yearly thankful thoughts. I mean… Be thankful that you are alive and well. Be thankful that you have friends and family. Be thankful you have food and drink. Even if you don’t have these things… Be thankful that you have something. Take nothing for granted.

As we all learned Friday night, life is precious and short. In an instant it can be gone. None of us know when our time will end or someone else’s will end. I don’t want to turn this into a “things I am thankful for” post, but I have a lot. I know that all of these things could be gone in an instant. Whether it be my phone in my hand or my wonderful fiancé next to me, either could be gone.

I wish I could tell a beautiful little girl that I am thankful that she is in my life, but it is too late. I want to try to make sure that this never happens again. Do everything you can to make sure that this never happens to you, because it feels terrible. I took tomorrow, next week, next meet, and next year for granted and now I will never have the opportunity to tell her what she meant to me.

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

After a somewhat successful day in the gym on Monday, I was now faced with Tuesday. I was honored to receive a call several days before, asking me to carry Andrea Bailes’ casket. Andrea’s mother said, “You carried her for years. I trust you to carry her now more than anybody.” When I first heard these words, I choked back tears and told Deana that I would gladly carry Andrea.

Now… I think about this. No parent should ever have to bury their child, especially because of some drunk driver with almost fifty charges, ranging from domestic violence to drunk driving. I never thought I would have to bury an athlete and I hope I never have to bury a child.

I am charged with the difficult, but necessary, task of carrying the casket of a fourteen year old athlete that I cared deeply for. My emotions range from honor, rage, sadness, pride, and many more in between all of those.

I have carried this child in the past. I vaguely recall having to carry her, much to her dislike, off of our gym floor after some small injuries. I had picked her up and put her on my shoulder more times than I could count. I had wrestled and fought with this obstinate girl on repeated occasions. I constantly gave her high fives and knuckle bumps, as well as love taps and soft kicks in the butt. But I had never thought about having to carry her in a casket.

On top of my duties, I think that I might talk with another television station about Andrea. The first one wasn’t easy and I am sure that the second interview will be just as difficult. As well as all of this, I have all the other team girls that I need to watch after. I am sure that tomorrow will be the most difficult for the young ones that loved Andrea. They have no real perspective on situations like this.

As hard as tomorrow might be on me, I have to be strong. I know that there are thousands of people that have been blessed by my memories of Andrea and that gives me strength. We will see how tomorrow plays out. Hopefully tomorrow will end with all of Andrea’s current and former team mates hanging out and playing in the gym.

Again, I wouldn’t be able to be strong and lead these kids if it weren’t for all of the amazing people that have sent me texts, comments, messages, posts, shares, and everything else. You are filling the huge hole that was left with Andrea Bailes’ passing. I have to thank you all again.

I will update things tomorrow as soon as I can.

The Point

The following message was sent to me on Facebook from a young friend in Canada. While reading it, tears rolled down my face and continued for quite some time. I couldn’t help but think… He got it. He got the message I was trying to spread. I received many messages like this, and I might share them in the future as well, but I thought that this one was important to get out to everybody quickly.

The message read:

Matt,

Never give up – because from the sound of it, Andrea wouldn’t have either.

A girl I’ve never heard of, never met; affected my life today. She sounds like that shinning star everyone strives for or wishes to be. A great friend, a good role model, along with a little stubbornness and attitude that makes you smile even more.

Not many people in this world are blessed or lucky enough to find that star. And those who do find it ..and lose it..

…one of the hardest things in life to bare.

But we can’t give up.

This too has been the hardest year of my short life so far..

A few months ago a dear friend of mine lost her best friend (practically a sister) in a car accident as well. I could not even come close to understanding the pain she was going through. We spoke the same words as you, “live for her”.

On Thursday September 22nd, I was hit by a car crossing the street on my way to gym. I’ve spent the last 7.5 weeks living at the hospital. I suffered multiple injuries including sever head trauma. There was a chance I would not be able to mentally function properly again or return to coaching.

I was scared. It seemed like all those, most important in my life would be taken away – MY shining stars. Every night I cried myself to sleep thinking I would never be able to be with these amazing children again. Be there to watch them grow. Be part of their success’ and failures. 

But every morning I made it my sole focus to get better. To enjoy every part of life and to live each day as if they were right there with me. I learned to appreciate things much more. I prayed – and it kept me alive.

I’m not saying our situations are in any way the same. I don’t know what I would do if I ever lost one of my athletes – it would be the death of me.

I’m just saying stay strong! 

Wake up every morning and make it your mission to live a great life! Like you said, for Andrea.

Live like Andrea.. ..each day.
Never give up. Smile. Make people laugh. Kick their butts when they need it and cheer for others even when you’re not getting any medals yourself. Keep her spirit alive. You’ll do that by continuing being a great coach.

I believe if you live like that, you’ll be living for her. She’ll be living in you, in you’re heart and mind and her star will keep on shining.

Andrea’s story has touched me. Andrea, her friends and family and you are in my prayers – sending you all the strength I have. 

I will share Andrea’s story along, hopping she’ll affect more people lives.

 

All of the messages, like this one, are what have given me the strength to keep focused on what I felt needed to be done for this wonderful child. All of the support has been overwhelming and I can’t thank everybody enough. It isn’t like I have done anything difficult, but I received a message when I woke up this morning that made it all worth it.

The message read:

Matt,
Words can’t express how thankful I am for everything you are doing for my baby girl. There’s no better gym family anywhere. For everything you did/do for her, I am forever grateful. I am finding some comfort knowing that she has touched more people in her short 14 years than most people touch in their whole lives. I feel God puts everyone in our lives for a reason….her reason was to show us how to really live. Her strength will get us through, I know it. Again, thank you & Dory for loving my daughter.

Your family,
Deana

 

Let’s make sure that we continue to show support to the people who really need it, Andrea’s family, friends, and team mates.