As promised, here is the Boston Globe article about Nico. If you click on the image and then click again on the larger one it should be possible to read. This is one of the more comprehensive articles to date and we liked the photographs that they took.
I celebrate my 54th birthday today blessed with more gifts than I deserve. I have shared half my life with a woman I continue to love dearly. Our three children have made us very proud, each in their own way. I have enjoyed good fortune in my career and I am still, plus or minus a pulled calf muscle, playing soccer. Some people do not know how lucky they are. I DO.
Jeanine and I started the day at Maya’s soccer game. It was an exciting match despite the 0-0 tie and Maya was in fine form. She made a very impressive run up the center of the field beating several defenders before laying off a perfect pass to a forward who almost scored. During halftime another parent shared his copy of the Boston Globe with me. There was a picture of Nicolai on the front page and an in depth article about his recent soccer exploits (I will post the entire article tomorrow). Most importantly, it included details of today’s Kicks for Cancer fundraiser which is taking place at the high school. The Kicks for Cancer event is held annually in memory of Concord resident Lois Wells, who passed away in 2007 after a courageous battle with cancer. Last year the team raised more than $28,000 for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute to support women’s cancer research. This year I was asked to photograph the event and was happy to volunteer.
Each player on the six participating teams wore a special jersey carrying the name of a loved one who had battled with cancer. Normally, when shooting a soccer match I try to capture images which include the athlete’s face. For this event, I prefer to shoot ones which capture the names on the back of jerseys.
Nicolai’s middle name is Laurent, so named for his grandfather, who he chose to honor on this occasion.
When he participated in Kicks for Cancer as a junior, Kyle, our first soccer star, dedicated his play to the memory of his grandmother, Eunice. That match produced one of my favorite photos of Kyle playing soccer.
I caught iRobot’s Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer acting suspiciously as he exited the office of one of our financial Directors who was on vacation today. This Director who will not be named is so cheap that he uses a couple of reams of printer paper to elevate his computer monitor to the correct height. Our CLO, who I can now see is something of a prankster, has been adding a ream of paper each day this week. Once I discovered what he was up to, I suggested that he start another pile underneath the telephone.
Let’s see. Improper use of company resources, an OSHA safety violation, unauthorized access to a secured office. All this from the head of the legal department. I love working at iRobot.
Jeanine hosted a neighborhood association board meeting at our home this evening. As a result, Maya picked up a babysitting assignment for one of the parents who had a toddler in tow. It didn’t take long before Maya and the little boy returned from the basement with the wooden excavator shown above. I made this toy for Kyle when he was a small child and have not seen it for many years. I was pleased to see that it was still intact and that all of the articulated joints and functional tank treads were still working. I hope Kyle will pass it on to his children one day.
Maya was beside herself with laughter as the videographer for CBS News applied makeup to my head because it was creating a reflection on screen. She needed no encouragement whatsoever to pick up my camera and capture the scene. I have routinely urged her not to wear makeup because her inner beauty needs no enhancement. Observing me on the receiving end of a powder puff was more than she could handle. Not enough that my lack of hair requires cosmetic attention in order to be properly filmed, I must endure this humiliation in front of Maya who sees this as great entertainment.
If my children wanted to learn from the mistakes of their father, the most important lesson I would offer, would be to take better care of their teeth. Better oral hygiene discipline would have saved me countless procedures and a great deal of discomfort. Today I visited the dentist for my 6 month cleaning. My hygienist is extremely skilled and our common interests makes for good conversation, even if my side is only mumbled. Not so enjoyable was the second phase of the visit with my dentist who addressed issues with two teeth. As has become my standard practice, I opted to forego Novocaine. The procedure is over much more quickly and my mouth and face don’t wind up half paralyzed for hours. Perhaps the pain is also a good reminder to brush after every meal and to wear my night guard to prevent gnashing my teeth while I sleep.
Maya, who sounds like she is coming down with a cold, opted to watch Nico play soccer rather than attending her own practice. She still had plenty of energy to engage in a little gymnastics and to help photograph and videotape the match.
CBS News National Correspondent Jim Axelrod and Producer Keith Sharman flew up from New York City this morning to interview Nicolai for a piece that is tentatively scheduled to air next Monday night (CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley) and again on Tuesday morning (CBS This Morning). They were joined by a videographer and sound man from Rhode Island. Their immediate interest is in a short (2-3 minute) segment but they gathered enough footage for a long format piece (Nico’s interview lasted an hour and a half). They also attended Nico’s game where I met them as they collected additonal footage of Nico playing and interviews with coach Pavlik and some of his teammates. Later in the evening the crew came to our home for an interview with Jeanine and I. Regrettably, neither of us were nearly as poised or articulate as Nicolai and we are hoping the bulk of the coverage will be focused on him. His soccer team rolled over Wayland and remains undefeated. Nicolai got significant playing time during which he made several nice passes, unleashed a powerful shot on goal and was poised to score off this header if not for a nice punching clear by the goalie.
I woke up to a glorious fall morning, a more perfect day for soccer one could not wish for. I arrived at the field with plenty of time to stretch and warm up. My legs felt strong and I played a rock solid game, committing no turn overs, making several nice attacking passes, and guarding my mark like white on rice. With 20 minutes to go and a comfortable 3-1 lead in hand, I left the field because both my calve muscles were beginning to cramp up. I then watched helplessly from the sidelines as we gave up 3 goals to suffer our second loss in as many weeks. My perfect morning was perfect no more.
Later in the day, Jeanine and I returned to the high school to see a project that Nicolai had created for his Rivers & Revolutions class. He built a massive gateway to delineate the entrance to the classes study area and worked with peers to add a sign and decorate the 2×4 frame. Students in this course study the writings of Aldo Leopold and Annie Dillard, canoe the Concord River, examine the development of early civilizations along floodplains, stroll through Minuteman National Historical Park, contemplate the relationship of circles and lines, hike across glacial deposits, discuss human conceptions of time, and revel in the waters of Walden Pond. It is the first time this holistic approach to learning has been introduced anywhere in the state and Nicolai has been enjoying the course immensely.
I spent the bulk of the day working on a project for our master bathroom. Jeanine has asked me to build a frame to surround the large mirror over our vanity and to replace the existing single lighting array with a pair of nicer fixtures. Building and painting the frame took less than an hour but the same cannot be said of the lighting project. I needed to replace a single wall box (and patch the resulting opening in the drywall) with two new wall boxes and run the associated wiring. As can generally be expected with any renovation work there are always surprises. In this case the presence of several vent pipes, three shouldered 2x4s (very hard to drill through) and a rats nest of wiring in exactly the locations where the new boxes needed to be installed. It will take another day or two to complete the work.
Maya invited several girl friends to spend the night and as I walked into our family room this is the scene I encountered. I am told they were doing “pencils”. I do not know what a pencil is or why teenage girls find this so entertaining. Perhaps it is some form of warm up for the game of Jailbreak which ensued with girls alternatively hiding silently and then flying through the house screaming as only girls of this age can do. Fortunately all the activity seemed to help them all get to sleep at a reasonable hour.
Coverage of Nicolai’s amazing goal earlier this week has gone viral thanks to this YouTube video posted by his coach. The last time I checked it had over 1,000,000 views.
Four local TV stations picked up on the story and interviewed him before his game against Boston Latin this afternoon. I left work early to provide video and picture files to the various stations and to generally try and manage the media frenzy. Nicolai handled the interviews wonderfully. He was confident but not boastful. He spoke eloquently and from the heart. Jeanine and I could scarcely contain our pride and joy as we switched from channel to channel watching the coverage.
A search on “one legged soccer amazing goal” returns 25 pages of related links from every corner of the globe. Most satisfying has been the stream of e-mails and calls from near and distant family, friends, colleagues and well wishers.
Pure Joy! The only words I can use to describe what Jeanine and I felt when we watched Nicolai score his first goal as a member of the CCHS Varsity Soccer Team today. No doubt this was a feeling he was also experiencing. This afternoon iRobot celebrated the 10th anniversary of Roomba and the 5000th deployed PacBot with a huge party in downtown Boston. The entire company was invited along with local dignitaries and VIPs. I opted instead to attend Nicolai’s game. My reward was a chance to witness, first hand, a milestone that I would have never believed possible when he was born. Not only did he score, but he did so in style with a magnificent overhead full volley (the one legged equivalent of a bicycle kick).
Nico can add this accomplishment to his list of “firsts”. I believe he is now the first person with one leg to ever score a goal (or even play) in a high school varsity soccer match.
Coincidentally, the Boston Herald just published a story on Nicolai which includes a great video interview and more than a dozen photos. The link can be found below. Once on the site the photos can be found by following the Photo Gallery link.
iRobot announced the acquisition of Evolution Robotics today. This explains my recent trip to Pasadena where I was conducting due diligence for the deal. They bring some nice products and very sophisticated technology to the company as well as a team of very talented engineers. Integration of east and west coast cultures is always a tricky affair but will be made easier by the common passion for robotics that runs deep in both companies. I attended a security briefing this morning given by Ray Semko, the D*I*C*E man, a former counter-intelligence officer who now makes a living giving high energy, motivational talks on the subject of corporate security. Although it was often very funny and did leave everyone with some indelible lessons, it was a bit over the top for me in terms of his overly nationalistic views. I was tied up at work till after 8pm but still found this beautiful salad and the family waiting to have dinner with me when I returned home. Am I a lucky guy or what?
A disappointing result this morning as my soccer team suffered its first loss in over a year. The 0-3 score did not reflect the closeness of the contest but there is no arguing with the outcome. I played poorly and their first goal came from the guy that I was marking off a nice header. He placed his hands on my shoulders and used them as a platform from which to elevate himself. Illegal for sure but a common tactic which I have admittedly used myself on occasion. My teammates were also in lack luster form and we failed to finish on several opportunities. The trick now will be to bounce back next week.
I spent the afternoon doing projects around the house. Maya assisted me with repairing a video tape for my mother. The tape had been partially eaten by the VCR and contained precious footage from my grandmother’s 90th birthday. It turned out to be quite a tricky affair and Maya was absolutely essential to the projects success both in terms of reverse engineering the assembly sequence and lending her small and dexterous hands. When we completed the hour long task she immediately asked if I had anything else that she could take apart. I gave her an old keyboard and a screwdriver. In minutes she had it deconstructed and could largely explain the principles of operation. Another few minutes and she had it reassembled perfectly. There is little doubt in my mind that Maya would make a fine engineer should she decide to follow that path. Still not sated I found her an old four tone doorbell to play with. She extracted a solenoid plunger which we used with a power supply to experiment with electromagnetism.
Maya’s ankle is still not back to full strength but felt good enough to play on this morning. Her technique continues to improve and she made many fine plays including a powerful shot on net that was just wide to the right. Her team trailed by one goal for most of the game but managed to equalize with about 3 minutes left to play. The tie felt like a win and made for a nice start to what turned into a marvelous day. Jeanine and I took an evening stroll around the neighborhood while Maya Rose was out having dinner with her friend Maia Rose at Walden Kitchen.
I am a huge proponent of developing staff through organized challenges designed to surface opportunities for creating exceptional teams. At work I lead our program management, systems, mechanical, software and electrical engineering departments. Today the later conducted a team building event in which participants were asked to design and construct a car from cardboard, duct tape, a pair of axles, and four tires. Once built these vehicles were raced down the Nashoba Ski Area “bunny” hill in heats of three to determine the winning team. The primary goals are to not kill anyone and to have fun. Learning about the importance of a winning strategy, the value of good planning and communication and the efficient utilization of resources; priceless.