An Open Letter to Stew Morrill

Dear Stew,

My name is Mindy Thornley. I am a proud Aggie alumni, former athlete and avid fan who has sat in section W, row 10, seat two for approximately the past 15+ years. {I may or may not have been the person who asked you the question about David's Collette's mustache at your last Big Blue Luncheon.} While you don't know me, I jokingly tell people we went sledding together, as we once were sledding at the same location at the same time at park on Cliffside probably over a decade ago.

But I digress.

Upon hearing your announcement of your retirement, I wanted to write you a letter to express my gratitude for the 17 years you have given Aggie Nation. To understand that gratitude, there are a couple things I need to share with you and one of those things ... I want to tell you about my older brother.

My older brother was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy when he was 18-months-old, a disease that deteriorates his muscles and has confined him to a wheelchair for essentially his entire life. While this disease did not dictate our family's entire life, it did put some limitations on what we as an entire family could do. There were places we didn't all have access to, vacations that couldn't be taken and sports that couldn't be played. But watching those sports all together was something different, it was something we could do.

Hours upon hours we all sat in the Spectrum, each taking turns on who would sit next to him in the wheelchair section. But not only did we get those hours together, we got all those hours traveling together to watch our Aggies play basketball. We would spend days in Disneyland together and nights in the Anaheim Convention Center watching our Aggies tear it up in the Big West. Memories from heading to the Big Dance because of overcoming a 16 point deficit to UC Irvine to Jason Williams missing a last-second shot against UC Northridge and being eliminated only in the semis are all memories we have because of your coaching and your team.

We followed you to Reno and to Vegas {don't ask us about Las Cruces}. We were there when we beat Nevada on their home court and the time that Darrell Peterson had to play point guard for the first time so that Chris Huber could be home with his newborn baby twins.

But it doesn't end there ... My other brother, married into our family just months before you began coaching at Utah State, 17 years ago. There were a million reasons my new brother became one of my best friends, but one of them was definitely his love for Aggie basketball.:) There was nothing I loved more than sitting next to him at games, talking to him all-things Aggie, sending texts and emails throughout the day when anything and everything Aggie basketball occurred.

And just as my brother-in-law came into our lives right around the same time you came to our Aggies, he left just months before you left our Aggies. He left for Heaven, after a valiant battle to pancreatitis. Those 17 years with him are the most cherished years of my life because of what he brought to them. And some of my most fond memories with him have been sitting in those autumn-colored seats in the Spectrum in Section W, row 10, seats two and three.

When memories are all you have left of someone, those memories are treasured beyond measure. You may have thought you were just coaching young men how to play a game. But for the Thornley/Murphy family, you were giving us something so much more. You gave us time with each other and memories that we will hold close to our hearts forever that bring us joy, light and laughter to our darkest days.

So, Coach Morrill, from the bottom of my broken heart, thank you!


Mindy M. Thornley

P.S. I couldn't help but notice that David didn't have that mustache the announcement of Coach Duryea's promotion. ;)

1 comment:

jill said...

oh all the memories...makes me smile.

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