From the cul-de-sac to the Big Apple

Today is February 8th. On this day in 2009, Ann Hall left her body and moved onto the next realm.

For the longest time, I carried a lot of anger and angst around how she passed away. I saw it as selfish and self-centered and it took a while to get around that.

And while I still regret how she went out, I’ve been filled with a different emotion lately.

The seeds of the man I am today were planted in that little white house on the cul-de-sac in Tuscaloosa. The boy that Ann and Tony raised became the man I have become (and am still becoming) today.

Mom had the heart of a teacher. But even more than that, she had a heart for service. She was never more in her element than when she was serving others.

Case in point, I wouldn’t have fallen so deeply in love with language and story if it wasn’t for her. I can’t tell you the amount of time she spent with me: workshopping, brainstorming, and helping me compose the first story I ever wrote. And I guarantee you that if Monkeytown never existed, then Written in the Stone wouldn’t have existed.

On top of the way she showed me the love of language, I believe the seeds of Coach Ryan began were planted in that little white house as well.

In 1974, the federal government funded RISE – a school model for special needs children. At the University of Alabama, they got notoriety – and an influx of money – when Gene Stallings was the Crimson Tide’s football coach. Special needs children are a special cause for him as his son had Down Syndrome.

This is taken from the Rise School website:

“Located in one room of a house on the campus of The University of Alabama, Rise served 6 young children with a staff that consisted of a teacher, a teacher assistant and a family service coordinator.”

Ann Hall was that teacher assistant.

Mom always had a soft spot in her heart for special needs children. But she had an even softer spot for giving back and being of service.

It reminds me of why I became a coach. My biggest “what for” is to give back the gift that coaching has been to my life.

Someone said something to me today that knocked me out. I reflected all this to her – Monkeytown and RISE.

“Maybe your path today was secretly her dream for you.”

The chills ran down places I didn’t know I had!

A few weeks ago, at the graduation dinner for Accomplishment Coaching, I had a moment. I shared in the restaurant a story about my dad. Granted, it was through great emotion, but I shared it.

And it was at that moment, I could almost make them out in the back of the room. I could almost make out mom and dad in the back of the room.




He’s doing it. Your Ry-Ry is changing the world. And he’s changing the world because you showed him how.

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t want to pick up the phone and call you guys. But I know you guys have the best seats.

I may be a late bloomer, but even the mighty redwood had to start as a sapling.

I’m becoming a redwood. And it started when I was a sapling in that little white house on the cul-de-sac in Tuscaloosa.

I love you! I miss you! And I’m not stopping!