EUGENE QUAYNOR: Life Well Lived
Eugene Quaynor is Joy. His life reflects, reports, and informs the gift of Joy, which is the gift he’s given all who have known him.
Last week Coach Eugene passed on. Our gift and our domain is not to understand or to comprehend. Our earthly responsibility is to abide by Eugene’s gift which we understood to be transformative. A gift from a place that transcends human crafting and human authority.
One of Eugene’s very first days in the U.S. he arrived at 5:45 AM for a practice and knocked on the door of our indoor facility as our women’s session was about to begin. “Excuse me sir,” wide-eyed, smiling brightly, against a stubborn Oklahoma snow, and a cold, dark early morning, “Are you the men’s soccer team.” I was coaching the women’s team, and let him know. He thanked me. Thirty minutes later, with a tug on my inner self, I went back to the door, and pushed it open, and there sat Eugene, outside, in a tshirt and shorts, arms folded around his legs, with snow collecting on his head. “Get in here.”
We called his coaching staff, discovered his training had been pushed back. “Thank you sir,” with the bright, wide-eyed smile that trademarked his life, and snow melting off his persona with a warmth that seemed inviting. His kindness, patience, understanding, respect for others, and gratitude, were bundled into those couple of minutes of interaction. It was obvious he was about to transform this time, this space, and this place.
For the next couple of years Eugene would catch me carrying food, groceries, equipment to our women’s locker room and would wrestle the goods away from me to help. He spoke rarely, used body language, and would thank for me for allowing him to help me. I’ll never understand how he “knew” when I’d be doing this, at 6 AM, or after the building was shut down at 10 PM, or after a preseason morning session before lunch, there’d be Eugene, demanding to help. Thanking "me" for allowing "him" to help me.
Coach Eugene has been instructing our youngest soccer players the past few years. He’s performed this work along with several of his teammates. His teammates who are part of our staff, are closely interwoven to his life, his impact, and his transformative power. He had not yet been given a team to lead, but he was an important part of our culture, and his influence on our very youngest of the next generation was real, obvious, and sincere.
Eugene’s kind heart, his transformative joy, is one part of an enormous persona. Eugene’s life also encompasses intensity, ferocity, passion, and effort. His agenda to thrive on chasing his best, and deriving the best in others, was on display when he played the game he loved.
I once had the privilege of observing from field side Eugene make an effort for a loosely played through-ball which he had a very improbable opportunity to retrieve. He ran with a mighty force, as though he would retrieve the ball. Some would say “wasted effort”. Eugene made sure effort mattered. Eugene’s team was losing. When the ball was lost, he turned and stared at his teammates all behind him, and said; no, he proclaimed, “WE WILL NOT QUIT!”. Within ten minutes his team had returned the game to level and then eventually won. Eugene is transformative.
He may smile and kindly greet you. Or he may push or pull you to the place you should be. In both instances there is opportunity for transformation. In both cases Eugene respected your life, your creation, and did not waste energy on trying to understand circumstances, but gave focus to choosing to understand YOU. And thus, he has transformed us in this place and this space.
We honor Eugene, and his life, and the JOY he chose and the JOY he shared. We are grateful his life intersected ours. We can be grateful that we can extend this life through this transformative power. For comfort and comprehension, we may be called to abide by that which resides in our earthly domain, with a trust, a belief, and a faith in what transcends and lives beyond our earthly dominion.
We can take action. This is our gift, our opportunity in response to Eugene’s life.
In the coming days, as an organization, we will ask all to choose joy, share joy, and abide by the joy that allows our earthly life to undergo the type of transformation that Eugene made his life about. In doing this you will honor Eugene, and ensure by an extension of his life, that time will not defeat our capacity to transform.
I humbly submit this request as someone who only barely knew Eugene. In the coming days, when time is right, our staff and leadership who were more relationally intertwined to Eugene will lead us further in our process to honor a life so well-lived.
Humbly and graciously submitted,