Professional athlete and 3-time Ironman champion

The Tree

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So this week, I got a letter in the mail. People don’t write letters anymore and I think it’s a shame. I love getting a letter in the mail and not one congratulating me, telling me I’ve been pre-qualified for a new credit card.

The letter came from my good friend and Austin homestay, Scott. When I stay in Austin, Scott and I have some great conversations – great meaning entertaining, and entertaining because I am likely over-tired and low in blood sugar when said conversations take place.

At one point, we’d chatted long about the beloved (to me, anyway) Stanford mascot; The Tree. I have a little tree clipped to my backpack.















I get questioned on it all the time. "What the heck is that?"

I love it, as it’s a reminder of where I came from, of my incredible teammates who made me better every day and who support me still. They don’t know it, but when I am struggling thru a workout, I think back to a horrible "Richard Special"….the ones that were so long and complicated; the ones where we failed during warm-up and that took him 20 minutes just to write on the dry erase board. Where when he set his chair at the end of your lane, it made you throw up a little bit in your mouth, knowing he was going to be in your kitchen for the next 2.5 hours. I remember those workouts and how we got each other thru and I hear my teammates encouraging me on still.

Finally, my tree reminds me that while I have my days that are mind-numbing, filled with little more than "right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot, eat, right foot, left foot….." that at the end of the day, I am actually pretty smart!

So I was thrilled when Scott sent me an article from ’The Austin American Statesman’; a story that came across the AP. The 12 coolest mascots in college (sports). http://www.kansascity.com/2010/08/21/2164661/the-12-coolest-mascots-in-college.html

And there it was. The Stanford Tree.

But wait. What? I actually had to read down the list fairly far to get to the Stanford Tree. #6?? Unacceptable.

I immediately emailed Scott to counterpoint. He responded, telling me my email was print worthy, which means, to me, it’s blog worthy. So here’s my response to Scott, but moreover, to Ralph Russo of the AP. I fear he’s a little misguided.

"6th?? Unacceptable.

I have called the Stanford AD and training begins today. We’re moving up!

I am confident we can take down #1, Ralphie the Buffalo….he doesn’t look so smart. Ding.

We might have our work cut out for ourselves with #2, the Georgia Bulldog. I am a sucker for the 4-legged furry ones, but since Georgetown is a bulldog too, I think they lose points for lack of originality. Ding.

#3, Chief Osceola looks like an Indian to me, and I thought that use of a Native American was culturally insensitive (my father was distraught when Dartmouth went from being the Indians to "the Dartmouth Green"….as if a color can be a mascot), so he’s disqualified on grounds of social insensitivity. Ding.

In at #4, Mike the Tiger, LSU. Yawn. Boring. Ding.

#5 is complicated. The Auburn War Eagle is hard to slight, it being our Nation’s proverbial mascot as well…but again, I’d have to ding the War Eagle on lack of creativity. Copying our nation’s mascot is not only uncreative, but you lose extra points for trying to get the sucker sympathy vote by tugging at the strings of our national pride. Double Ding.

Which leaves us at #6. The Palo Alto; a truly unique mascot and you have to give it extra props for being entirely recreated every year. Part of the mascot’s audition is to create the costume he or she will wear……so it’s new and different every year.

I suspect Ralph Russo might be fired for not naming the precious Longhorn in his list; given the printing of said article in the Statesman.

I’d like to conclude by saying that Stanford not only has the coolest mascot, we have the coolest fight song too. Care to challenge me on that? I dare you!"

Persistence. Determination. Love. The Journey!

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