Imagine if you will,. that you went to work one day, and there was a big company meeting.
“As of today, our CEO has stepped down to take the same position at another company. We are not sure how much of the upper management will be going with them, but we will keep you up to date. As of now, you all have your jobs and business is as usual. We will keep you posted as changes and a replacement is hired.”
“Oh, and will the 13 senior staff members please stay after. We need to chat with you.”
As one of the baker’s dozen of senior staff members you stay behind to hear what they have to say.
“We have no idea who the new CEO will be, or what changes they will make. We are asking you 13 to step up and be leaders and keep morale up. We need you to reach out to each of the other members of the company and gauge their feelings and motivate them to see this through. Since each of you have already said you are retiring after this year, we cannot guarantee a bonus or any extra benefits if the transition doesn’t go smoothly.”
What would you do?
What if that new CEO is blessed with a great vision and long term goals of culture change, hard work and excellence in both practice and in profits. Everyone is excited and fired up to go.
I bet many of us would be excited!
Then, as the year went on, you had to say goodbye to some friends who took other jobs. Say goodbye to some people that get let go for various reasons. You saw profits drop, you saw the company go in a tail spin. While the board of directors, management and most of the company still believed that the direction would be the best for the company in the long run, the interim time was incredibly stressful and disheartening.
You see upper management interviewing some really great people, a huge talent upgrade is coming. Unfortunately they cannot start until after you are gone. More of your friends and teammates are pushed out either by finding something new or losing their jobs or getting reorganized to places they are not a good fit. Some other friends have their resume’s out looking for a new, more stable place to work where they feel they fit more.
Finally, you get to your last month at the company. You can see the future and it looks brighter and brighter with each new hire and each change in process. You are excited for that, but your heart breaks a bit because you will not get to be a part of it. They are demolishing your old offices and putting in new state of the art ones. The company is moving forward and it will without you. You did your best in ridiculously hard times the last year, but now you must move on from a place you love because your time is done. You won’t celebrate in big sales in the new offices and you won’t get the big bonuses that come late in the year because everyone worked hard and got it done.
On Friday, 13 Beaver players will run onto the field one last time, after a year of the above scenario has played out in their lives. They will walk by their old home being destroyed to make way for the new home for the palyers to come every day until they graduate. They will see a new class singed full of promise and talent that they will never get to take the field with. Mostly, they go home earlier than they hoped, no chance at a bowl game or just one more practice. They will leave with their last home memory being a bad loss in front of a few thousand cold fans surrounded by a mostly empty stadium.
No banner will hang for them and no trophy will be on display to honor their last year. Yet they may very well be the most important people on the whole team for the Beavers future. They are the ones that gave their all through injury (Josh Mitchell, Storm Barrs-Woods, Larry Scott and Jalen Grimble) who overcame crazy adversity to get just one shot to fulfill their dreams of playing D1 football (Kyle Peko). They worked through the depth chart to make an impact even though they physically were not as dominant as some of their peers because no one was going to keep them off it (Lavonte Barnett, Jashwa James and Kellen Clute).
For me, there are also three people that will hold an even more special place in my heart, and that is Naji Patrick, Shane Wallen and Ali’i Robbins. Patrick worked in the background as a walk-on for years before finally getting a scholarship this last year. Imagine doing all the same work, work outs and film study, yet no training table and also having to pay for your own schooling? Or Ali’i Robins who came in on scholarship and had to give it up and pay his own way. He could have easily transferred away, but he stayed, honored his team with hard åç despite what had to be horribly disappointing. Or Shane Wallen, a transfer who just wanted to fulfill his dream of playing D1 football and worked his butt off to stay on the team and do it.
All of these players are warriors. Some we will see on Sundays, some are going to go on to do great things in other fields. Regardless, Beaver Nation and Oregon State asked them to do the hardest thing ever. They had to lead a hopeless mission to benefit a great future that they will not be an active part of. They had to lay the foundation during one of the roughest years we have had, for a future that they can only watch from a distance.
So thank you. Thank you for being amazing, thank you for being leaders and thank you for being a part of a difficult chapter in Beaver history.
For what it is worth, I am proud of each and every one of you.
Go Beavs (PRO)