Editor’s Note: One of the foundational principles of CVT is to find captivating stories and tell them in a captivating manner. This means sometimes breaking the traditional mold, getting out of our element and trying our hardest to find different focuses, platforms and angles than we would conventionally use.
The story of Douglas High graduate Dusty Fisher is indeed captivating. After receiving limited recruiting interest out of high school, he walked on to one of the elite football programs in the country. He survived a sudden coaching change and made the traveling roster this season. He’s played in every one of his team’s games. He’s already been on national television several times and even made a play that was featured on ESPN.
Knowing he’d come to Reno for a game this season, we contacted the University of Nevada back in August about acquiring press passes for the game. We love stories like his for a variety of reasons, the largest being that it inspires other youth in the area that, yes, when you work hard enough and refuse to give up, your dreams really can come true.
What we’d never considered, though, is what seeing those dreams come true might mean to the mentors, coaches and teachers that play such vital roles in these kids’ lives. As much as we’d love to tell the story ourselves, that’s one angle we can’t fully bring to the table. As the game between Boise State and Nevada approached, the idea came to us to enlist one of Dusty’s former teachers as a freelance writer for this one game. We posed to her just one question: “What does this mean to you being able to see this?”
What follows is the result of that question, with many thanks to Douglas High leadership and English teacher (not to mention Douglas alum) Karen Lamb, and of course, the great Ron Harpin who spent a long evening shooting the Nevada-Boise game after baking in the sun at Bishop Manogue High School earlier the same day for the Douglas football game.
Living the Dream
by Karen Lamb, Special to the Carson Valley Times
The incredible potential that rests in the youth of this Valley is a large part why I returned to teach here.
The incredible adults that help them reach that potential is the other reason.
As a young person, I was constantly supported by family, teachers, coaches, and other adults who told me that if I worked hard, I could achieve my goals. One of the most important adults in my life encouraged me to find something that I loved, and I would never actually work another day in my life.
Teaching has proven over and over again to repay me in the way that she promised.
Now, I just want to encourage my students to do the same; find a dream and work hard to achieve it.
No dream is too small or too big. To be completely honest, when students go out to achieve whatever makes them happy, it is like a bonus to my job that I never knew was possible.
I also never knew how much that bonus would mean to me as their teacher; even though most of the time I have absolutely nothing to do with their success. Simply witnessing the success, the dream, the goal, the happiness … well that really is priceless. To the extent that it means work rarely feels like work; it just feels like a gift.
Just a little over two years ago, Dusty Fisher wasn’t a college football player.
He was a Douglas High School student in my Student Leadership and Senior English classes. A light-hearted and sarcastic kid, it sometimes took him a little pushing to be focused, but when he did- he was unstoppable.
Intelligent, kind, hard-working: he was someone who you wanted on your team.
Even better, he had the ability to make us laugh and break up the trials of daily life. After graduating, he kept in contact with me, visiting and giving updates on his life as an adult. It was exciting to see him grow and mature.
And while Dusty is near and dear to my heart, he is just one of hundreds of amazing students I have been able to meet over the past decade as a teacher at Douglas High. Each with their own set of incredible abilities. Some excel in academics or athletics; others have addicting positive attitudes or the innate ability to empathize.
There are students who can make the most unbelieving of their peers laugh, make them believe in the impossible, or even make them believe that dressing up in a crazy outfit for homecoming will make their day better (and it usually does).
Honestly, there are more days than not that I am positively influenced by the extraordinary students who walk through the halls of Douglas High.
To be able to be around them, to be able to help plan events for them, to be able to teach them is truly a gift. A gift that I wasn’t expecting as a teacher. Some students stay in contact; some you don’t see again. No matter the role in their adult life, it is a gift that should really be our focus, each and every day.
On Oct. 4, Dusty Fisher returned to Nevada.
But it was different this time.
This time he came back as a member of the Bronco football team. A young man who didn’t play football in his first year of college decided to beat the odds and work to try out for the team last Spring.
On this Fall evening, he came back to a familiar place: 40 minutes from home with friends and family dotting the bleachers in Mackay Stadium.
The people who report on these types of things would tell you the important plays, the key turnovers, and the statistics of the players. Someone with a knowledge of Dusty’s story might even add something about his tackle.
Lucky for me, I am not a sports reporter. What I would like to report on has nothing to do with the game itself. It is something much more special and much more personal than that.
On that Saturday, sitting in the press box and silently rooting for my own alma mater in the Wolf Pack – as well as Dusty Fisher – I couldn’t have been more proud.
That the same spirited kid I knew a few years ago has worked so hard to begin to achieve a dream means that what I had always known about him was right.
I also have no doubt that this is just the first of many great things Dusty will do. That day he also represented those hundreds of students who are doing the same thing. They are out there, working hard to find their “happy”; something that I always knew was possible.
Whether it is on ESPN or in any other small way, I just hope that I will get to witness the journey for at least a few more of them.
Most days when someone asks me how I am doing I reply with, “Living the dream”. Some may push it off as cheesy or cliché, but it is true.
If I get to spend the rest of my career teaching kids like Dusty and watching them do something – anything — that makes them happy, then I truly am living the dream.
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