I have great friends. I have a wonderful family. Even the acquaintances I have are really good people. I suppose I've always known special people have surrounded me. I'm fortunate for that. It was made obvious again, just how amazing my friends can be when I accepted a job at Vanderbilt last Thursday. The out-pouring of emails, the shout outs from Marc and the ephus, the phone calls ... it can really humble a person. It does so to me.
I consider myself a decent person. Someone who tries to live his life to the fullest, and someone who values true friendship and those others that share their friendship. But time after time, I am amazed at the people I've surrounded myself with. My family, my friends. Without a doubt, they all support me in everything I do. How many people can say they have the support from everyone they know? The decision, which I'll touch on here in a minute, was a difficult one. I took a lot of advice before coming to the conclusion. I had to. This was a big deal. Another move one just over a year? To another state? Another school? Well, after the decision was made, I sent out as many emails as I could to let people know. I wanted to share my great news with everyone, and each of you that have replied ... well, it has meant a great deal to me. I thank you.
So yes, I have accepted a position with the Vanderbilt athletics department. And just to clear up any misunderstanding ... Vandy is NOT eliminating their athletics department. I'm not taking a job in the rec sports department. Vandy is not going to leave the SEC. Not at all. They are committed to competing at the highest levels of D-I athletics. Be rest assured that if I felt they weren't going to be doing these things, than I wouldn't have signed on. I have a great deal of respect for the people in the Vandy athletic department, and I look forward to working with them for years to come.
And the decision certainly wasn't easy. In between the day I interviewed, and the day they offered me the position, I had 10 days to think about things. I had 10 days to seek advice collect my thoughts and make a decision. The phone rang Thursday morning, and I was offered the job. You'd think those 10 days would have prepared me for that phone call. But I wasn't prepared. I wasn't sure if I wanted the job. More so, I wasn't sure if I was ready to leave NIU. Of course, there was some negotiating with Vandy, and then with NIU and then again with Vandy. But it all boiled down to opportunity. I really enjoy NIU and especially the relationships I've built with staff and student-athletes, but I see the opportunities at Vandy as greater. More exposure within a larger conference. More SEC championship events to host. More opportunity to host NCAA events. Better facilities. A more interesting city. Don't be fooled. It still wasn't easy. There were positives and negatives to both. As I started my drive to Mount Pleasant, MI, last Thursday, I started weighing those positives and negatives. After about two hours in the car, I called Vandy and accepted the job.
I'm thrilled about the decision. I'm nervous about moving again, and having to pull all my roots up again. But this is a great thing. A wonderful school, beautiful campus, SEC athletics, a tremendous city ... there are many things I am looking forward to. This is a big job, one I hope and pray I am ready for, but everyone seems to think I am. My friends are the greatest. They have really made this entire process a great deal easier.
It will be hard to leave. Just when I was starting to get the hang of things around here, and just when I was cultivating relationships ... coaches, visiting teams, officials, MAC personnel, other NIU staff, the student-athletes ... just when I was feeling comfortable. But I suppose that is how life works out. Now I have a new challenge. New people to meet. New relationships to cultivate. And hell, I'm going to be the director of my own department. How many 26-year-old people can say that? As humbled as I am, this is an awesome feeling.
I'm sure this Lowe Down has been hard to follow. My head is filled with so many thoughts right now ... what do I do about my insurance? my retirement funds? checking account? Blah! I've just got a lot on the brain. It'll all be worth it though. When that first day at the new gig rolls around, and I'm thrust into preparing for an SEC basketball season ... I'll remember why I went through all of this. Why I made the move. Why I accepted this position. And I'll also remember why I have such wonderful friends. the ephus is right. Not everyone talks about his or her dreams. Maybe I'm foolish for doing so. I mean, if I don't reach my dreams, everyone will know. They'll know I failed to reach those dreams. But I honestly believe, that as long as I have the support of so many wonderful friends and my family, those dreams will come true.
To everyone that has emailed or called, again I thank you. I will return every email or call. Give me some time. It will come. And if you have any suggestions about where to live in Nashville, shoot them MY way!
I am a lucky, lucky man.