Are You There, God? It's Me, Darci

I believe that everything happens for a reason. I hate saying that, because EVERYBODY says it and now it’s completely cliché, so let me edit that statement; I believe that there’s a reason behind everything. Thus far in my life, I think there has been a purpose for everything that’s happened to me, even the bad stuff (of which there hasn’t been much, thankfully).

(Note: That's not to say I necessarily believe in god. I don't think I do. The title of this entry is me wondering if there is a god [because of things like what I'm about to write about] and attempting to be witty. But let's not get into the god issue -- that's for another time and blog!)

Last semester, my meeting with Gary Hall affirmed that I was absolutely supposed to end up at Miami. I mean, hypothetically I could’ve met someone of equal stature somewhere else. But where else would I have had the chance? Do many other professors give out assignments like that?

No, I was meant to be here.

I really didn’t need any other clues. But the universe had other plans for me!

Last Thursday, I saw a rather interesting tweet. This one, as a matter of fact:

Of course, I was really excited! Amy Deem, our very own director of track and field! A Cane! At the Olympics! I can root for my school AND my country at the same time! And what if I’m there too (fingers crossed)?! That opens up a slew of possibilities too exciting to deal with right now ;P. So I retweeted it, with my excitement crammed into the very eloquent “OMG STFU!!!,” and moved on with my day. I didn’t even think about it in terms of news.

*Shakes head.* Amateur.

During dinner that night, I got a text from my fantabulous sports editor, Ernesto. He basically said that he knows I’m an Olympics junkie, and would I like to write the story for The Hurricane about this.

Jaw, meet floor.

So I’d get to interview the newly appointed women’s track coach of Team USA for London 2012? The woman whose athletes I’ll be watching for endless hours next summer? Oh. OH. No big deal, right?


My life just got infinitely cooler.

I couldn’t really do much about it that night, other than squeak something to Colin and Jon (who now gets his requested mention in this entry, completely not on purpose :P) who were at dinner with me, and then freak out to Chandini on facebook. Oh, and write some interview questions. Friday, however, began four days of total anxiety.

That morning, I called Coach Deem’s office to try and set up an appointment with her directly, not really thinking about the fact that I’d have to go through someone else. Ernesto had emailed be about it, but I didn’t check it until the afternoon. Let that be a lesson to everybody: CHECK YOUR EMAIL! I spent all of Friday with my phone permanently attached to my hand, twitching every time it vibrated.

I finally read the email and (cursing myself under my breath) called Scott Zavitz, the SID for track and field. Thankfully it wasn’t too late in the day to reach him! He asked me for my availabilities and said he’d set something up for me.

On Saturday, I woke up and checked my email for an interview time. Nothing. I kept my phone on me as much as possible all day (despite training in the new fitness room for the staff! Shameless plug: the gym is BEAUTIFUL! If you go to UM, you now have no reason not to get your butt over there!). I checked my email multiple times, and had still heard nothing by late afternoon. I emailed him again, and he said she would give me a call sometime on Sunday (aka my last day as a teenager).

Sometime? What does that even mean?!

I didn’t have anything planned for the day besides the editorial meeting at noon, but I set my alarm for 9 am, just in case Coach Deem mistook me for an early riser ;). Again, my phone was permanently attached to my hand. I was SURE she’d call me at the most inconvenient time; when I was at breakfast… when I was walking to the meeting… when I was at the meeting… I brought my notebook & questions with me, just in case. And I even wore my "London does it better" t-shirt! :)

But, alas, it was for naught. I waited all day with a resting heart rate of approximately eight hundred BPM – not only do I hate waiting for phone calls, I hate waiting for IMPORTANT phone calls even more. And for me, does it get much more important than a coach approved by the USOC?

Let me answer that for you: NO.

The story was supposed to run in Monday’s paper, but my deadline was extended to Thursday. It wasn’t a total loss, though. I spent my last day as an 18-year-old watching the Vancouver Olympics, and I spent my last day as a 19-year-old waiting to hear from a coach of the London Olympic team. I like it. :) (The theme, not the waiting!)

I emailed Scott again, giving him my availabilities for Monday (my birthday!) and Tuesday. He apologized, and said she’d give me a call between 4:30 and 5:00 on Monday afternoon, after she got out of practice.

Okay. Fantastic. Perfect.

I got out of work at 3:30 (yes, I worked on my birthday) and headed straight back to my room. I whiled away the next 45 minutes doing god knows what. When the clock hit 4:30, I stopped. I shut my music off, quit the internet, opened the Word document with my questions, and put my phone flat on the desk next to me. Game face? Check.

Half an hour later, I was feeling a bit put out. My phone had remained devoid of “Amy Deem” on caller ID, though it had been far from silent. Seriously, in that half hour, I missed three calls from my grandparents. Usually I appreciate them calling on my birthday, but in this case, I was having heart attacks when my phone vibrated at all, let alone rang! Needless to say, I was NOT a happy camper!

At around 6, I emailed Scott again. It was basically the equivalent on getting down on my knees and begging. I told him I was desperate to get this done, and even though Tuesdays are my bad days, I said I’d skip class if need be. This story HAD TO HAPPEN.

I went down to dinner at around 6:45, still feeling like I’d been stood up (and by an Olympian, no less!). I had taken about two bites of my sandwich when my phone rang. It was an unknown 305 number, but I knew exactly who it must be. Torn between wanting to laugh and angrily shake my fist at the ironies of the universe, I answered the phone.


“Hi, is this Darci?”

“Yes it is!”

“Hi, this is Amy Deem…”

Ahh, good ol’ Charty’s and their terrible reception. I couldn’t even hear her. She was FINALLY calling me, and I was eating a mediocre sandwich and had terrible reception. After a reluctant “sorry, you’re breaking up. What’d you say?,” I grabbed my wallet and was out of my chair; I’d have to use another meal to get back into the dining hall, but at that point, all I cared about was the interview!

“I’m actually at dinner right now,” I told her, “so—“

I was intending to say “so give me a minute to run up to my room,” but she didn’t let me finish.

“Oh okay, don't worry! I’ll have my phone on me all night!”

…Wait, what? I stopped short in the process of running out of the dining hall, between two tables of random strangers. In retrospect, I must’ve looked certifiably insane.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah! Enjoy your dinner, give me a call when you finish! I’ll be up until 10 or 11.”

See, I learned when meeting Gary Hall that Olympians are really nice. But this still surprised the appetite out of me! No, actually, I take that back. My appetite was gone because it’s Charty’s. Either way, though, I was REALLY surprised. She hadn’t been able to call me for two days, but now she’s giving me free reign over her evening? Hey, NOT COMPLAINING.

My sandwich seemed much lamer when I returned to it, but I listened to Coach and tried to enjoy my dinner ;). Then it was back up to my room for The Interview. I called her back at around 7:15-ish. And what did she say when she answered the phone?

“I hope you don’t mind talking to me while I’m walking my dog!”

Cue Twilight Zone music. Do I mind? Hmm, let me think about that one.

If you couldn’t already tell, Coach Deem is amazingly nice, and really down to earth! She was just appointed to the 2012 Olympic coaching staff for the United States, yet she’s still saying things like “I need to focus on the now, which is getting UM ready to compete,” and that the thing she’s most proud of is seeing her former athletes being successful in their lives now. It sounds too good to be true, but I could tell that she really means it. She’s just that genuine.

But do you want to know what she’s really like? When I asked her what the past week has been like for her, she talked about how nice it was that so many people took the time to text and email her their congratulations.

I kind of love her a little bit.

I asked all the questions you’d expect to be asked; the selection process, when she finds out who’s on her team, etc. etc. But there was one question I held for last, that I would only ask if the interview was going well. And it was, so I did.

“Are you going to be throwing up the U at all when you’re in London?”

For those of you non-Hurricanes, a demonstration of “throwing up the U”:

(Excuse my nerdiness.)

She laughed, and gave me the BEST possible answer: "Of course! I've been at Miami for 20 years, so I definitely will when it's appropriate!"

BAM! Done! :)

The interview was pretty short, just about 11 minutes or so. She apologized for huffing and puffing, but apparently her dog was bouncing around the house when she got home, so she had to take him out :). She said she’d text me (!!!) the names of some of her athletes to contact for my story (which never happened, but that’s okay, since my story ended up being long anyway), and told me to give her a call if I needed a follow-up or anything else.

Okay, I kind of love her a lot.

And then the coolest 20th birthday present I could’ve asked for was over. I was kind of bummed I didn’t get to mention to her that the Olympics are what I want to do with my life, but everything happened really fast and it just didn’t fit in anywhere. If I’d met her in person it probably would’ve been easier. But I didn’t want the story just to be able to name drop, and potentially get a contact. This story will be fantastic as a clip to send in for internships (especially with the USOC!), number one.

And number two?

'Nuff said.

Read my story here! -->

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