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  • Writer's pictureGerald Tindal

Day 43: Classmate's words continued

KT Man,

As yesterday, I’ve lingered through the emails sent following your death. They reflect the same reach of people as your celebration of life. From friends, family, classmates from your past and now from the present: the Sports Product Management program. These latter emails are particularly helpful for me to understand your presence. Of course, your friends and classmates from the past are special for their value in anchoring you, but we were there most of the time. Your friends became our friends. This new group of classmates and friends are different. We distantly knew them through you. They were new. But they are now family. Another twist of the verb from the past to the present.

I find it curious you could so easily walk into this program. Clear and uncertain. Meet new people. Talk through the conventional and become social. Connected. Short circuit time and experience to become so connected. Build a camaraderie that continued this process. Build a connection that provided meaning in a look, a phrase, a remembrance. Eventually, a story and then, many stories. In common.

“Hi, my name’s KT.” “Where you from?” “Cool.” “What’s it like there?” “No, I’m from Eugene.” Your physical presence would not much beg the question of your sport. A footballer. Maybe rugby. Certainly a powerlifter. Guns for arms that stretched your shirt sleeves. Sometimes, these images are deceiving though, so best to check up. Be more clear to build the connection. Extend it through an oblique conversation that goes a step further. Ah, a Duck fan through and through.

It’s the first week of class and the new cohort is going through the well tendered process cultured by the SPM program. It’s a smart system of building a family and eventually teams. We should do that more often in education. In our classrooms. Make social bonds serve as the frame for later learning so help is around the corner. A first responder system for learning. Katie’s email was poignant. She understands the process. How to connect. Become friends and then family. Have you become part of her family.

“Words cannot express the impact Karsten left on the world. Your son was the MOST positive, happy, and encouraging guy I have ever met. There is a piece of Karsten and I that is very similar. Our love and passion for sports, specifically football. I will never forget when we went to the Ducks game with our cohort. Obviously, Karsten was in his element, and it was great to sit next to him during the game. Together we explained the rules to our international classmates, while Karsten shared some traditions about the Duck football team. Our international classmates said, ‘Your eyes light up when you talk about football.’ Shelly mentioned you saying if Karsten could have majored in football he would have been thrilled. As a collegiate athlete myself, I felt the exact same way. Until this program, I was a bit lost trying to figure out what life after sports was. The program gave Karsten and me the reassurance that we needed: Our life with sports did not have to end just because we were not playing competitively anymore, instead we now had the chance to help the athletes who still compete by building them the products that enable them to perform. This program was the perfect fit for Karsten, and the huge smile he wore daily proved that. Your son has made a huge impact on my life. I plan to carry with me his positive outlook on life, even in stressful circumstances. Our cohort will never be the same without him, but each and every one of us plan to translate his positive energy and genuine smile into our daily lives.” Katie, Sports Product Management Class of 2019.

Like yesterday, there you have it. Your classmates miss your presence but will hold you in theirs. We love you for this and will keep you part of our life.

JT Man

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