Feb 23, 2013 / 01:04 pm
When coaches and athletes are preparing to head to the Olympic Games, they certainly long for the thrill of victory and don’t even want to consider the agony of defeat. But what of the challenge of even going to the Olympics, period, when an immediate family member dies in the final weeks before the Games?
That was the case for current University of Arizona women’s softball head coach Mike Candrea, who held that same position with Team USA for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. Just prior to his leading the Americans on the world’s stage just over eight years ago, his wife, Sue, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm.
“I think your first inclination is ‘why me?’,” he says now.
“Everyone has that thought when those things happen in your life. The thing that helped me understand things was, with my faith, I go back to my mom being the one that gave me that foundation early in life, so I always had it, but there are times when your profession gets in the way of having that balance in your life. I thought there were times when your life revolved around whether you won a championship or not… When you get thrown a curve ball at 49 years old and don’t know the color of your checkbook or what your kids need you wake up and realize that everything doesn’t revolve around those championships. So I found that having a balance between my profession and my faith gave me a better balance and made me a better coach, a better person, and a better father, and you have to put your faith in God and we’ll all be together again.”
It also helped him through other tragedies.
“I do talk about my trials and tribulations in life, having lost a (softball) player at 21 years old to diabetes, and we’d lost a child early in life. After (the latter) I thought I was prepared for anything that’d come my way. If that hadn’t happened I don’t know how I’d have reacted (when Sue died). We lost a three-week old and a nephew at three years old. That was probably the time in my life that woke me up a bit and made sure that I grabbed on to the things we need to (in order) to get through tough times in life.”
Now it’s the start of 2013 and not only is Candrea still having success as a high-profile softball coach, but, he re-married and didn’t leave his faith behind once he got through his first wife’s passing.
“I say this quite frequently that the good Lord was looking out for me to unite me with Tina. The one common thread we had was the same faith. I remember going to Ash Wednesday Mass with her, and seeing her commitment to the Catholic faith sure comforted me. We’ve been able to share that on a daily and weekly basis together. It has got to be a big part of your life. Balance between family, spirit, and professional life brings happiness. We all need to kind of slow things down and realize what’s important and I definitely live everyday like it’s my last.” …
Go here for the rest of the story.