WHY I GIVE THANKS: Grateful for non-negotiables — family, career, relationships

Chris Nier

Recently I attended the Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association Conference in Wisconsin Dells for three days, and one of the lectures I attended talked about non-negotiables in your life.

When I was asked to list what I was thankful for, I immediately went to those non-negotiables. When it comes right down to it, my family, my career and my relationships instantly come to mind.

On any given day, I spend most of my waking hours working as an athletic director, volleyball coach and dean of students at the Wittenberg-Birnamwood School District. I am very thankful to have a career I enjoy and work with people that I truly care about. I am thankful for the opportunity to make a difference in students’ lives, especially through coaching girls’ volleyball and working with the students and athletes of the Witt-Birn School District. I am thankful for the elementary students who always wave to me in the hall, the middle schoolers who joke around with me and the high school kids who stop by my office and say hi, even if it is just to get a Jolly Rancher! I am thankful I get to know the volleyball team so well as they keep me young and make me laugh every single day! When things get hectic and it feels like I can’t keep my head above water, I thankfully am surrounded by coworkers — including teachers, aides, custodians, secretaries, coaches, officials, administration and all the other staff who work for the Wittenberg-Birnamwood School District — who always seem to step up and help when I most need it.

In my downtime, I spend my summers in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and I’m very thankful for God‘s gift of the U.P. and beautiful Lake Superior. I’m not sure what I did to deserve that opportunity to spend so much time in the woods and on the beach, but I feel very lucky and thankful I can. The summer months give me the chance to unwind and spend a lot of time with friends and family and my dog, Willow, too!

Above all, my family would be the No. 1 thing I am most thankful for. Now that my kids are grown and out of the house, living in De Pere, Texas and Waukesha, I realize what I want most is to spend time with them. I am so thankful for who they are, what they have achieved and what kind of people they have become. Having smart, hard-working, kind and funny kids is a blessing. Although I am thankful for the time I do get to spend with them, especially when we are rarely all together, what I am even more thankful for is that they are happy, healthy and successful.

In addition to my kids, I am thankful for my husband, Eric, and his great sense of humor. I’m the one who makes sure things get done in our family, but he’s the one that makes sure we have fun doing it. Also I am thankful for my parents for their never-ending love and support and for being great role models to me, raising me in a way that I am proud of, even if I did make more than my share of mistakes along the way. They provided an example for me to follow when Eric and I raised our kids. I am also thankful to my mother-in-law for giving me my husband and loving my children along with the rest of my extended family. Even though we are spread out all over the country, when we are together we have a fantastic time!

To sum it all up, in my opinion, the key to my life being happy, healthy and successful is maintaining positive relationships with family, friends, coworkers, students, athletes and God. I am thankful to have those relationships in my life and, because of that, I am truly blessed.

Chris Nier is athletic director, volleyball coach and dean of students for the Wittenberg-Birnamwood School District.