This past weekend Steve and I were privileged to play host to a couple of exceptional athletes, great role models, hard working, positive, ethical and generally all around really nice people. Sadly, when it comes to many famous elite athletes, those traits I just listed aren’t usually the first that come to mind. It is more the infamy, the arrogance, the multimillion dollar salaries and exposes in the media that range from the tawdry to the criminal. Having two boys, it is often disheartening to see one of their sports heroes get entangled in a sex controversy, or get caught cheating by taking performance enhancing drugs. The formula for excellence should be committment, perseverance, hard work and a good share of failure to learn in the process. Now it seems that less energy is put on the hard work and learning through failure portion and more into what better way to cut corners. I certainly understand the pressure that is on todays’ athletes to keep winning when the bar keeps getting higher and higher. But I also believe that the bar is raised unfairly by bionic bodies created by illegal “short cuts.” It just isn’t fair to those athletes who build their talent the old-fashioned way. And I would imagine these old-fashioned athletes would be frustrated, bitter, angry and just want to give up….but not Caitlin Compton Gregg. She is a breath of fresh air. She loves what she does, and is committed to being the best at what she does. Not only is she a committed athlete, her actual job is to be a role model and mentor to kids ( her husband Brian is also a youth mentor and an elite athlete as well). That is the kind of athlete that I want to inspire my children, not the kind who live in such a moral vacuum that their spurious escapades dwarf their athletic abilities. I want my sons to understand that excellence demands hard work, committment and the willingness to fail. Excellence in sports means being an excellent person. I know it sounds so simplistic, but that is why I wanted to write this, it just needs to be said more often. How we get to a goal is the most important part of any journey. I see all too often the emphasis is put on winning or being the best without highlighting how one gets there. Caitlin’s journey is full of hard work, committment and the kind of grace that I really haven’t seen in a long time….it was encouraging for our whole family. She is a role model, she is a mentor, she is an exceptional athlete, she is an excellent person and we were enriched by meeting her and her husband Brian. It a year of a lot of pessimism and struggle, she charged my optimism.