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Live. Learn. Lead.

“That was a total waste of my time…”

“I really regret not doing something about that…”

“I’m so embarrassed I failed at…”

It is easy to fall into the trap of this type of negative thinking about our past. We want to live a good life.

In our house, we have a small sign that sits in front of one of our family pictures. It says, “LIVE…LOVE…LAUGH.” This is great. But you and I know that we all experience times when it’s hard to love, and maybe we don’t feel like laughing. Does this mean we aren’t living a good life if we experience anger or sadness?

The duality of life tells us we will experience both light and darkness…both pleasure and pain. The sun can help crops grow, but it can also damage them with too much exposure and not enough rain to balance the heat. Ice can make our drinks cold, but it can also cause frostbite.

Living, especially if we open up our hearts to love, can bring both joy and suffering. But can we live a good life even in times of tragedy and heartache?


Caroline Found was a bright and vivacious 17-year old in August of 2011 who was about to begin her senior year at Iowa City West High School. She was the leader of her school’s volleyball team which had won the previous year’s state championship. And she was confident enough to tell her teammates that they would win it all again that year.

But just before the season and the start of the school year, Caroline, whose nickname was Line, died tragically in a moped accident. Her family and friends, her teammates and her coaches, and the entire community were in shock. Someone who was so full of life was suddenly gone.

Her obituary encapsulated her spirit and life with the following words:

Caroline had a bounty of amazing gifts, chief of which was her ability to make others smile. She lit up the world with her enthusiasm, and her vibrant spirit made her a friend to everyone. Her greatest pleasures were the people she met and the relationships she grew. Caroline lived well, laughed often and loved much.


But to those she left behind, those three things became very hard to do.

Win for Line

Caroline’s teammates especially had a hard time dealing with the loss. They didn’t want to practice and struggled to process losing their friend. Line was the setter on the volleyball team, a key position that helped set all of her teammates up for success. Eventually, Line’s best friend, Kelly, took on the important task of replacing her at the setter position.

In the movie The Miracle Season, which was inspired by the events surrounding Caroline’s death, Coach Kathy Bresnehan pushed the team to compete even though the players were in disarray emotionally. They couldn’t win any games at the beginning of the season. However, after finally earning their first victory, Coach Bresnehan told the team they still had a chance to win the state tournament if they could win their last 15 games of the season.

Bolstered by the idea that they could still make Caroline’s prediction come true, the team took on the slogan of “Win for Line” as a way to push themselves to honor their teammate.

Live Like Line

But eventually the idea to “Win for Line” became so pressing the girls felt like they would be failures if they didn’t win the state championship for her. It added a tremendous amount of stress to think that their friend’s legacy wouldn’t be remembered if they didn’t win it all. Until the slogan was changed from “Win for Line” to “Live Like Line.”

Rather than thinking they had to win in order to honor their friend, they chose to start living like her.

To make others smile.

To live with enthusiasm and with vibrant spirits.

And to cherish the people and relationships in their lives.

Even though she was no longer with them, Caroline made an impact on her family, friends, and teammates. She helped them enjoy the journey of pursuing their goal to win the state championship.

Enjoy the Journey

The team did run the table the remainder of the season all the way to the state championship game. They capped off that miracle season by winning their second consecutive state championship.

Coach Kathy Bresnehan, the Iowa City West high school volleyball team, and the community learned an important lesson. It’s one we can all learn when we hear the story of Caroline Found. Winning volleyball games, or any other type of achievement or accomplishment, doesn’t give any value to our lives.

They can be events which we gather around. They can provide moments we commemorate. But without the people involved, the character exhibited, and the relationships developed those accomplishments don’t mean much.

So what can we learn from Caroline Found? We can learn to Live Like Line and Enjoy the Journey…

Live. Learn. Lead.

Enjoying the Journey sounds so simple. Yet in our day-to-day lives, we often get so many things piled on us that it is difficult to make the choice to live, love, and laugh. Whether it’s in the classroom, on the court, or at home we need to let go of all the stresses from the outside world. Because even in times of sorrow and times of suffering, we can LIVE…we can LEARN…and we can LEAD.

We can keep LIVING in spite of our suffering. We can LEARN from role models like Caroline that we have strength inside of us. And we can LEAD by doing exactly what Caroline did…sharing her gifts and abilities with others.

When we enjoy the journey and Live Like Line, we will increase our impact by giving the world a better version of ourselves every day.

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Jon Barth

Jon Barth

Teacher - Coach - Mentor

I love to share stories, tools, and resources to help students become leaders who make a difference in the world by giving away their gifts and abilities.

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