Head North

Fatih 

To often in life we find ourselves waiting for the perfect time and place when, in reality, the perfect time and place probably doesn’t exits. And if it does, the imperfect time and place can be, well, perfect.

I’m a chronic idealist. I have visions of the future and how, when and why it will happen. While the end result is important for me, so is the process of getting there. Not only do I want to be in control of the outcome, but I want to be in control of how I get the outcome… Which most of the time is impossible.

But, when you’re as stubborn as I am, this is a tough train of thought to break.

About a year ago I heard a phrase from a good friend that helped me change my way of thinking, he gave a speech thats backbone was, “head North.” P

As you are probably thinking, that is a very general set of directions. If you apply this to your life goals at first this will feel, at best, like a Karate Kid lecture from Mr. Miyagi – ridiculously unhelpful. “North” covers a lot of ground.

But, there are two important principles to remember here:

  1. You know the general direction of where your dreams lie and you don’t have to, nor are you expected to, know the exact whereabouts you will find them.
  2. The farther North you head, the easier choosing a path becomes.

You see the father North you head, the less physical (and metaphorical) real-estate there is.

Now maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t want to head North. North is cold as hell and I will be eaten by Polar Bears.” And that’s fine. Head south for all I care. Just find a general direction where you think your purpose and destiny lies and get your ass moving in that direction.

Example: 

Two years ago I began working for TEDxUniversityofNevada. I LOVED TED Talks. What an awesome job. As soon as I got the job I knew I wanted to give a TED talk one day, but I had no idea what “Big Idea” I could bring to that stage that would even give me a chance to stand up there.

The job I had? I was a glorified parking attendant. My job was to organize a group of volunteers for the day of the event that would help patrons find their way from the parking lot to the theatre. Glamorous, I know.

But, I sat in on every meeting, rehearsal and event I was privy to, and eventually I had a better job. I was more involved with speaker prep, I was able to give feedback and I had the opportunity to meet some of the brightest and most courages minds on earth.

Last January I had the pleasure of meeting two-time Grammy Nominee Jennifer Knapp. Jennifer is an incredibly successful Christian artist and an LGBTQ activist, but more importantly to me, the first person to ask me, “what are you waiting for?”

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Jennifer Knapp, Dr. Simmons, Jennifer’s Partner, Myself and Carlos

You see at the time I met Jennifer, I was not anywhere close to being out, but I trusted her and I told her my story. She sat there with me for almost two hours at a crowded event and listened to my story. One of the most genuine people I have ever met. At the end when I told her I envied her position and I thought that I might have a “Big Idea” of my own, she agreed and asked me, “what are you waiting for?”

This question sat with me for months. I knew exactly what I was waiting for – someone to do it first. The hell I wanted to be the first openly gay football coach (that I know of).

While not only openly admitting to being gay, but also giving a speech on it did not at all seem like the greatest choice in the world, it did seem like heading North.

So here I am. Once a parking attendent. Now speaking on a stage I’d once only dreamed of and definitely heading North.

Shane

Photo Credit 

 

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The Man Behind the Mask

There is one thing that all people who have successfully lived life in the closet have mastered – putting on a mask.

In an attempt to bring life to this issue, a few months ago, myself, an incredible photographer and several other brave souls have attempted to shed light on what life inside the closet, and the coming out process is really like for some of us.

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Now I don’t want to paint too depressing of a picture, but the reality behind my, and many others situation is it’s a shitty one. My main goal with this crazy adventure is to reverse this reality, but it order to do that I believe it is important to understand where we are now.

This is an emotional and often uncomfortable process. Even for me. It requires a strong stomach and a big heart. We often hear the phrase, “a day in the life of someone else’s shoes,” but in my time of coming out I never really heard “a day in the life” that I could relate to. After all, how many gay football coaches have you heard of?

None. But, I quickly realized that my story, football aside, is not very unique. My ability to tell it, however, is.

The photo series is far from done, but I would like to introduce it and tell a short story behind this picture.

First of all I would like to say that this IS NOT what everyone experiences when coming out. Some coming out stories are filled with hope, love and joy. Some coming out stories are more like mine. And others – on a trauma spectrum – put mine to shame. It’s important to recognize all of them and understand this is one side of a big picture.

So on to the photo…

My story contains many different themes. This is one of them. By the looks of it you can probably guess this one – anger. A deep, intrenched and unescapable anger. An anger and frustration that dominates every aspect of life.

In the beginning, it’s fear. It’s fear that keeps you in the closet and provides separation from who you really are and who you pretend to be. But, when the fear of yourself gives way and you get your moment of clarity, a new fear rears its ugly head. The fear of who you really are and who everyone else thinks you are.

An easy route is to say, “well, who cares?” but, until you’ve lived that life – which most of you will not – it’s hard to comprehend.

My story is unique in a way because of where I found my niche in life – football. To be honest, football is not the most gay friendly place. I am not bashing on football, it’s just a reality of the current climate. So even though I accepted and loved myself, there was another major obstacle. Football.

The risk of being myself and keeping my job in the capacity and with the respect I wanted was to great. That fear turned to anger.

Would they still love and accept me? No one knows yet, but that picture is a result of years of wondering.

That picture is the result of living life behind a mask.

 

Shane

 

 

Faith, Family, Football… and the Final “F”

Here goes…

A couple of month’s ago I started this blog, but I was never honest about what it was really about. Faith, family and football are a big part of it, but there is one more “F” that I haven’t shared with you.

I’ve tried to construct the perfect way to do this, but the truth is – there is no perfect way and I’m tired of obsessing over it. It’s exhausting. My TEDx talk was going to be the big reveal, but frankly that’s a bit to Hollywood for me and just really not my style.

So what is the final “F”?

The final “F” is fag…

I am gay.

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One of my best friends and first love, Josue. (Thank you for giving me permission to use this photo)

 

Forgive my lack of political correctness, but I appreciate the play on words. I hope I didn’t offend anyone by using it so loosely, but, bare with me, it serves a purpose.

Like many others before me have experienced, this is a difficult decision. Right now some of you are reading this and might be thinking differently of me. That is your right. I’m not going to take the superficial high road and say I don’t care what you think, because if I didn’t, you would have been reading this a long time ago, but I deserve to live my life with as much peace and happiness as any other person.

So why now?

It’s Thanksgiving (officially) and tonight my family and I will sit around the table and share what we are thankful for. Last year I shared that I was thankful for an incredible family that – at the time – was just learning about the real me and was nothing but supportive.

A year ago I was thinking about what my life would be like a year later. Truth is, because of my job, I haven’t made much progress. I made the decision to put my life on hold to pursue my career and passion.

I take coaching very seriously and in my first year as a varsity coach and having gotten my dream job I didn’t want anything about me to be a distraction, but the season (sadly) is over and now I am chasing a different dream – helping change a message and a culture. Tonight when I sit down at dinner I would be saddened to know I hadn’t at least started sharing that message yet.

This is the time of year when we all take a breath and recap the last 12 months of our life. My last 12 months have been a wild combination of the greatest happiness and sadness I have ever known. It’s been life in all of it’s wonder and tragedy.

I’ve tried to think of everyone who I thought deserved to know before the rest of the world. While I haven’t gotten to many of you, I’ve gotten to as many as I can.

I’m sure you have a lot of questions. My TEDx talk will certainly explain more… Including my NPC use of the word fag.

So tonight I will sit around the table with my family and after a year for the record books I will be able to say I am thankful for finally being myself.

Not perfect, but myself. It’s been a long time coming.

So a very special thank you to everyone who helped me survive this first year of coming out. There are countless people and you know who you are.

Happy Thanksgiving! And god bless.

 

Shane

 

 

 

Pressure

I have been blessed to have some incredible educators in my life, but recently I have had a serious appreciation for one high school class and teacher in particular.

Flash forward to present day: about two months ago I was presented with an incredible opportunity to take over the entire marketing effort of a financial practice that manages an incredible amount of money; legally I cannot tell you how much, but trust me, it’s a lot.

I am not a marketing major. My degree is in finance and economics which landed me in the office I am now, but my marketing background is limited. It is something that has appeared to come to me naturally at this point in my life, but to be honest, it isn’t a natural talent, it was something I had to work at and develop and I owe it to my writing ability.

In my Junior year of high school I took AP English Language Composition. It was about as dreadful as it sounds. It is a class that is essentially built around developing an effective argument on paper. A complete breakdown of argument and logic. To the intellectual it sounds interesting when you put it like that, but the logistics involved are anything but. It is brutal. A grueling process and deconstruction of the English language. writers-block

It takes a special brain to appreciate this type of study – I didn’t have that. The work in this class for me was… painful at best.

Fortunately I had the most incredible teacher – Betty Tuso. Ms. Tuso was and will always be one of my heroes. She is the model teacher. Passionate about her subject and her students.

It was her passion for her subject – and in me as a person –  that forced me to give the attention to syntax and diction; a topic that many people avoid like the plague. But, because of this class, Ms. Tuso and her love of teaching, that I am where I am today. Again, I am not a marketing guru, but because of this class I learned to develop an effective argument and write like a champ. This skill landed me the dream job for a college student. Not too many people can claim the title of Marketing Director at the age of 21.

Now, despite Ms. Tuso’s expected chagrin, my grammar still leaves a lot to be desired, but the fundamentals of persuasive writing are still there (I also owe a massive thank you to Mary Groves for my professional writing skills).

My point here is this. I’ve done a lot in life to this point even though I’m still basically a kid. I’m not bragging. I am saying thank you. I wouldn’t be here without you.

Saying thank you is important.

You never sugar coated it. When I was wrong, I was wrong. When I wasn’t preforming, you let me know. When the quality wasn’t there, it wasn’t there and while at times I severely disliked you for pushing me to the limit and being so tough I realize now that I owe you everything.

Thank you to the incredible educators that I’ve had. You irritated me. You made me feel uncomfortable and pressured, but you never made me feel inadequate. You pushed me to achieve things I didn’t think I could. And because of that, I am on a journey that I could have only dreamed of – because of you.

Thank you.

Shane

Photo Credit

A Sideline Visit

September 20, 2012 #26 Boise State vs. BYU.

It was a rare Thursday night gathering at Bronco Stadium, but a special one for me as it would be the last game I ever spent on the sideline in a Boise State jersey. But, there was something even more special that happened that night.

Boise State defeated BYU 7 to 6 at Bronco Stadium on September 20, 2012. (Robby Milo/The Arbiter)

Boise State defeated BYU 7 to 6 at Bronco Stadium on September 20, 2012. (Robby Milo/The Arbiter)

Earlier in the week my football career had come to an end. We didn’t know it at the time, but I had sustained what would be a career ending knee injury. Now I don’t want to say that my knee was the reason I left football. In truth I had been battling for the better part of a month if I still wanted to play football. I was on the fence. And then my knee happened and I was mentally done, even though at the time we thought I could still make the physical recovery.

That week was shaping up to be a special night because we would be playing BYU and one of my high school teammates Kyle Van Noy.

Kyle was a senior when I was a Freshman at McQueen so I never actually got to play with him. But, I grew up watching him. He was an electrifying player. Many McQueen Alum have often made the comment that he was the best athlete and football player to ever come through McQueen. Which is a big complement considering he stands in the ranks with Chris Carr, Jeff Rowe and many others who had long successful careers.

From the beginning of fall camp that year I was struggling. I was undersized, outmatched and felt like I didn’t belong at a prestigious college program like Boise. I built a mental block I couldn’t get past. So I reached out to my high school coach and he told me to call Kyle. He thought that Kyle might be able to share some insight and give me support.

And that he did.

Here was a guy who knew me sure, but had never played with me and was on the goal_line_stopNFL watch list for the draft going into that season. He played for a team that would be making the trip to Boise that year in one of their biggest games of the season, but despite all of that he not only answered my call, he continued to check up on me throughout the coming months.

That night was insane. A Capacity crowd of over 40,000 and, via ESPN, the football community watched a defensive slug fest. An absolute boxing match.

7 to 6 was the final. We came out on top thanks to an early 3rd quarter pick 6 by Mike Atkinson – a 330 lbs nose tackle.

It came down to the wire, but the game would end with the ball in Boise State possession. After Joe Southwick took the final knee and the clock expired Kyle made his way to the Boise sideline to find me.

Kyle had a great game including a touchdown saving tackle on a goal line stand. He was a major highlight for BYU and a big game standout, but that didn’t stop him from coming to talk to me. We spent a few minutes catching up in the post game chaos. It was surreal feeling really in many ways, but it was a moment I won’t forget.

Here was a guy that I grew up idolizing and trying to chase the same level of success that he had. And while I would never get there, I did get to share a moment of mutual admiration on a national stage.

So Kyle, thank you.

Shane

Photo Credit

Photo Credit

Greatness: Property of the Mildly Insane

Faith – 

So often we tend to think of greatness as an elusive destination that evades us. We look upon other people who achieved it and think that we will never get there. That greatness is a finite commodity and like all desirable things, you have to possess some truly special ability to get there.

I’ll level with you there. You do have to have some pretty special qualities to be great, but the most important one isn’t one you’d expect – insanity. Bare with me while I make my point…

Albert Einstein was famously quoted as saying that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” which I would agree with, but I also believe there is a different kind of insanity – extreme courage. 15d3bc2f8a2066759370b49470c2ea16

My dad’s birthday was this last month. To give you a little background – my dad has always been one of my best friends. So much so that I am working for him and pursuing a career that he has made a living out of in hopes that one day I will earn my way to being his partner. Anyway, some serious changes have happened in the lives of both my dad and I in this last year and I thought of the perfect gift. My dad has a “Hall of Fame” of all of us boys in his office. It has grown rather extensive over the years. Filled with home run balls, state championship medals and college football memorabilia, but the one thing it was missing was me coaching. So I got him a picture that had a quote from Tom Hanks on it,

A hero is someone who voluntarily walks into the unknown.

There has been a lot of unknown for my father and I in the last year. He has always been my hero, but he joined the ranks of super hero this year. Like his father before him, he isn’t a man of many words, but when he speaks, you listen. Often I find myself captivated by his wisdom that he keeps to himself.

These last few months though have been particularly trying. Trying is probably the understatement of the decade. Aside from the above average chaos at work I am in the midst of a life changing project (more on that at a later date). But, he has been there supporting me every step of the way despite the potential consequences.

This project will change my life forever. Good or bad I am not sure. The risk is undeniable and potent. It is distracting at best. I am walking thing ice. Constantly. While the end goal for me is clear and is a dream of mine that I was born to fulfill, the consequences of failure would be devastating.

So today on my commute home I thought, “What in the hell are you thinking?” No one before me has attempted this. And now that I am in the process I see why (haha!). You do have to be mildly insane to think there’s a chance of this working. But, when I look at my role models and inspirations in life that is exactly what they thought.

After all, who would voluntarily walk into the unknown?

I will. Not because it is easy, but because despite of the obvious precedents of failure I believe that there is a good chance I might just be the one to do it. And if I do, greatness awaits.

Shane

Photo Credit 

Get Your House in Order

Coach Pete in all his wisdom found one fundamental truth that always comes back into my life – if your room is a mess, your life is a mess. He would always say,

“Get your house in order.”

It sounds stupid. How does having a messy room or house have an impact on your life? Besides, the natural order of the universe is chaos and my room is no exception to the laws of the galaxy. I wasn’t exactly sure as to the scientific correlation, but one thing is true. Every time life catches up to me and things get crazy, my room is a mess. petersen-washington

So I did some research behind the psychology surrounding the filth – Coach Pete was right. There is a correlation.

Researches have found that the behavioral norms for those who live or work in messier environments differ from those who live or work in cleaner, more well organized environments. Diet, productivity, mental well being and other things increase positively with the cleaner environments.

If you would have walked into my room on Sunday you would have thought that my life was falling apart at the seems based off of this formula. Now while it wasn’t quite that bad, I have been in a serious funk. So I got my house in order. It took all day. Literally all day, but at the end of the day I was feeling much better. It’s like magic. The one thing you really don’t want to do when you’re tired and overwhelmed can make a world of difference.

Here’s an article that explains some of the psychology surrounding clutter.

But next time you feel like life has caught up to you and you’re feeling overwhelmed, go look at your house. I bet it’s feeling overwhelmed too.

Shane

Photo Credit

For the Love of the Game: Guest Post by Jeremy Macauley

The price of admission is high:

My knee injury has left me sidelined since the Arizona game of 2014. The doctor told me that there was a 30% chance I would never play football again. If you’re in athletics of any sort you know 30% chance of anything is extremely high. I was worried and felt as if my heart was going to be broken.

Nevada's Jeremy Macauley (72) is carted off the field after a play against San Jose State during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Reno, Nev., on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/ Cathleen Allison).

Nevada’s Jeremy Macauley (72) is carted off the field after knee injury.

Besides all the psychological instability that was occurring surrounding my knee, I needed to figure out what I was going to do when I eventually could not play ball any longer. Nothing came to mind. I have been playing football for 14 years. Two thirds of my life dedicated to a discipline that has left me with a broken body. I was scared. I responded the only way I could; I  studied my ass off and starting prepping for plan B in case football was done.

6 months out from surgery I wasn’t where I wanted to be health wise and I was looking for a way out.

Then spring ball started and I was extremely happy to just be out on the practice field. Although, I probably shouldn’t have been. I was not ready and every day the film showed it. To be blunt, it sucked. The gradual decline into a quitters’ mindset began.

Summer training began and I finally could back squat. I got that high of just being somewhat an athlete again. But, every day leg hurt more and more and I knew my time was running out. I was giving in and if you know me that is not my personality. I have not, will not ever quit but, football was killing me physically, mentality, emotionally, and spiritually. I needed something to get me full circle, back to the basics.

Three weeks ago my little brother Jase started his first football practice. Usually in my family dad is in charge of taking us to football practice but, he was out of town and mom was working late so the responsibilities fell on me. Naturally I was excited to take Jase to practice because those were my the best times. Competitive but, fun no matter win or lose and oddly enough I remember more about those SYFL practices at Sparks Middle School than games. I remember more about high school

Sep 5, 2014; Reno, NV, USA; Nevada Wolf Pack running back Don Jackson (6) celebrates his second half touchdown with guard Jeremy Macauley (72) in the second half of their NCAA football game with the Washington State Cougars at MacKay Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports. Nevada won 24-13.

Sep 5, 2014; Reno, NV, USA; Nevada Wolf Pack running back Don Jackson (6) celebrates his second half touchdown with guard Jeremy Macauley (72).

practice with Kyle Danielson than any game including state. And oddly enough Jase’s practice field is the same one I practiced on for high school. More on that in a second.

On our way there I tell Jase that there will be a point during a practice where you will cry and feel like you want to quit but, you can do it and after nothing will be as tough. He asked if that happened to me and I told him my story of how Coach Sally was screaming at me while I was bear crawling my 7 year old, 150 lbs. crying ass across the field. I can still hear his voice telling me, “Jeremy you can do it your almost there, then it will be over and nothing will be as tough”. And it was true, that moment broke me and he was there to build me up.

As we walked through the entrance of Reed High football stadium everything that I had ever done in this sport flashed in my mind. That tingling sensation ran down my back. I thought of all teammates past and present and I could not help but smile. And I was so happy to watch Jase start his journey down a path that makes boys into men. Men who will fight for each other, teach you things about yourself that will frighten you and will embrace a very animalistic side of yourself.

Football has been killing me for some time now but, all those moments that flashed in my mind was the paramount of what I have been striving for – greatness – to be remembered in this game, to win the big one. Coach Sally’s screaming encouragement in my mind makes my knee seem insignificant. I am better than what I was before and I see that now. I have adapted and grown and that mental instability that was used as a channel of depression and anxiety has been turned into a crazed animal that will kill for his brothers. An animal who just wants to play ball and have fun the way the game was meant to be played.

Jeremy

Photo Credit

Photo Credit

I Should be Calling You Coach

Last Thursday something incredible happened. For the first time in my coaching career I felt the players pushing me to bring more energy and be better.

As anyone with teenagers knows, most of the time we have to push them – sometimes endlessly – to get them to do what we want them to do. They are eating and sleeping machines and outside of that narrow spectrum it can be difficult to get them to perform. It’s kind of like herding cats.

Getting teenagers to wake up early and bring energy, intensity and focus to practice is no different. They are stubborn and tired and to be frank – a complete pain in the ass.

But not this time.

The usual challenge of bringing not only enough energy to practice for myself, but for 15 other guys was reversed. They brought it. They were locked in and focused like I had never seen before. As I walked into the weight room that morning one of the players said, “you look tired coach!” Which was a fatal flaw. I am always riding players about not displaying fatigue. I have a general rule of thumb: practice what you preach.

The way these kids lift is frightening. We have an army of overgrown teenagers that you couldn’t pay me to pick a fight with and they love to work hard. They have truly developed an attitude as a team of hard work and they feed off of each others energy. They police themselves. I knew they were good, but last week I realized just how good. Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 6.19.26 PM

As coaches we try to foster focus, commitment and consistency. Focus and commitment are easy. None of us would be there if we didn’t have those two down, but consistency is the master of good character and success. If you want to be successful at anything in life – family, relationships, your job – you have to bring the same thing every day; regardless of the circumstance.

And to paraphrase J.J. Watt; Consistency isn’t owned. It is leased and rent is due everyday.

As practice wrapped up and the energy of my players for the first time not only made me better, it had me absolutely high on life and I realized something – these guys teach me as much, or more, than I teach them.

They have bought in. They trust me. They have and will follow me regardless of the outcome and even without realizing it, they give me energy, hope and make me want to be better.

I really should be calling them coach.

Shane

Responsibly Irresponsible

Family 

Today hiked Mt. Rose with my family (well part of my family). There were hundreds of things that I should have been doing today. Laundry, work, homework, preparing for work tomorrow, resting for the long week ahead… But, I hiked Mt. Rose, because sometimes we have to do something seemingly irresponsible and irrespective of time because it’s the right thing to do.

Yes, I am advocating for responsible irresponsibility.

I like to call it balance. And balance isn’t perfect or pretty. If you’re like me, your life could only be managed by ten, otherwise completely unemployed, highly caffeinated individuals. However, there is just me. I’m not complaining. I love everything I do even though at times it can be exhausting and I do get stretched too thin. When my schedule gets exceedingly tight the basics that I sometimes take for granted get sacrificed. Family and free time. This is where the power of choosing comes in.

I could do more than I already do. I could take on more at work, I could do better in school, I could spend more time watching film and prepping for practice. I could do all of these things and find a way to make it work, but I chose not to. Not because I don’t want to spend more time at work being a better employee or giving my players an extra advantage by watching film, but simply because in order for me to be the best at all of these things I have to be the best me I can be. To do that I have to take care of myself.

Taking care of yourself is something that many of us look past, especially when life gets crazy. I am a super competitive person and often times I find myself competing with myself. I can do more. I can work harder. I can do better. While this attitude has served me well in many aspects of life, it is also dangerous. I have a difficult time relaxing. I’m a little high strung at times you could say. I live and die by a schedule. If it isn’t on the schedule, it ins’t getting done. Which is why I have to schedule fun and relaxing.

There is never a good time to take time off. There is never a good time to push off work to do something fun. There will always be something seemingly more important to do, but there is never anything that important. If you can’t take time to do the important things like take a hike with your (adorable) parents and your aunt and uncle you need to reevaluate. I am all for pushing yourself to the limit, but there does need to be limits and sometimes you need to break the rules.

Take a sick day and go to the lake. Skip a homework assignment (just one). Do something (healthy) in place of what your adult self is telling you, you should be doing. Live a little.

Be responsibly irresponsible.

Shane.