At approximately 8AM on Friday, February 13, 2015, a team of 37 teen and pre-teen swimmers wearing red and black travel uniforms boarded Southwest flight 372 on a plane heading to Phoenix, AZ from San Jose, CA. You were one of the flight attendants.
I am sure that many travelers might shudder to see a large group of young people ? brimming with excitement-- boarding their plane. I admit that even I, a parent of one of those swimmers, might have been a little irritated at the anticipation of loud voices and teenage antics on an early morning flight.
You didn't see teens and pre-teens; you saw athletes, and you were excited for them. You came over and began asking these young people about the event they were going to be competing in for the next four days.
"I have some advice for you," you declared, "be focused." When they got up on that starting block, you told them to tell themselves: "I CAN?and I WILL." You had them repeat this chant, and as you worked the rest of the flight, you stopped by their seats to give them "pep talks" explaining that they could accomplish anything if they kept themselves "focused and determined."
Thank you. You should know that the time and attention you gave them had a profound impact on these young people, with my daughter, McKaela, explaining, "he made us feel important. He told us that if we believed in ourselves, we were unstoppable. His positive attitude became contagious."
When the plane landed, and throughout the subsequent grueling four days they competed, the chain of inspiration that you set in motion continued to ripple throughout these young athletes. Swimmer Kate Milne explained that when she was exhausted throughout the weekend, she would focus on those five simple words: I can and I will.
They all DID, and according to their coach, Laura Mitchell, with amazing results.
You had work to do, but you took the time to see, hear, and inspire our young people. Thank you not just for what you did, but for who you are. Please know that that they got the message.
At the Arizona meet, members of the swim team had customized bag tags made with their new team-- and personal-- mantra.