Student Nomination Story

Having played volleyball for six years and counting, I never made a connection or relationship with a coach other than with my JV coach in 10th grade. Dustin Day was straight out of college. At only 5 foot 4 inches with grit allowing him to play at the University of Madison-Wisconsin’s club volleyball team. He was more to me than a coach. He inspired me to figure out what I wanted to do in my future. I knew I was a strong player that would stand out on any team, but I had no idea if I wanted to play competitively. Coach Day showed me I could play competitively without going to a division one university by playing on a club. This made me feel that I could still play a sport that I love with still being close to the the family and friends I love. One time a couple of teammates and I ordered pizza before practice. The estimated delivery was about 25-30 minutes. As time passed, we gazed out the window for the pizza guy. After 40 minutes, the pizza guy still hadn’t arrived. Some of my teammates decided they did not want to be late, so they left my friend and I. Finally ten minutes after practice had started we got the pizza and sprinted to the gym. When we got there, pizzas in hand, Coach Day marched toward us, face the color of the pepperonis on our pizza. He pulled us aside and told us, “I have always expected more from you two. This is setting for a terrible example for the rest of the team. Sit out this practice.” This separated him from other coaches and educators. He knew we did something dumb and instead of furiously yelling at us, he showed us the impact this had on our team. And from that point on, we arrived to practice on time. He meant so much to me as a coach but what I think describes him the best is caring. After our season was over, he came to watch a club tournament I played in even though he would not be coaching anymore. After one of my games, I went to talk to him and thanked him for coming. That’s when he told me he had enlisted in the army and was going to be leaving for his training. He told me how much I improved and I should keep working to get to the next level then he said, “I am sorry I have not been able to come to more of your tournaments, I have been really busy.” Of course I felt disappointed, he helped me in so many ways but I knew he wanted to help even more than he was. He never realized the difference he made in the teams life and my life.From learning more about the game of volleyball, to learning rights and wrongs, to even learn about the bigger things that are going on in the world. Dustin Day you are an inspiration to me. The way you play volleyball and how you can help people without realizing the impact you are having. I want you to know that you aren’t just making a difference in our country but in the kids lives that you had coached. Being a senior in high school and going off to college next year I now have a better understanding of what kind of person I want to be in the future.

Nick Nielsen

To see more exceptional teacher nominees, visit The Honor Roll.