The Importance of Nurturing Relationships

I am a firm believer that good relationships are worth their weight in gold, and I am intentional about nurturing them.

We encounter thousands of people throughout life, so when you meet someone who has made an impact on you, it’s only right to acknowledge and appreciate them.

Even though I’ve retired from sport, and life looks very different for me now, I am grateful that in the last month I’ve been able to celebrate several of the relationships I made while competing.

Honoring my college coach

My college coach James Henry recently retired after having an amazing career at the University of Michigan and making a large impact on my life and countless others.

My dad, daughter, sister, and I were able to attend his retirement party and show our appreciation for him, and his illustrious career.

Not only was he U of M’s first Black head coach with 37 years of dedication to coaching, he poured into me in a way that I will forever be grateful for.

Under Coach Henry and Arnett Chisholm’s care, I made history by becoming the first woman to win five consecutive NCAA titles, and this still stands as one of my proudest achievements.

He also helped me realize a childhood dream of becoming an Olympian for the first time. Our hard work was also rewarded with a World Championship medal, World Junior medal, a Big Ten Medal of Honor, several Big Ten Titles, several school records, and the privilege of being team captain twice.

Needless to say, I wouldn’t be the athlete or woman I am today without Coach Henry’s care and guidance. Being able to attend his retirement party to show how deeply I was impacted by our relationship was a privilege and a moment I will never forget.

Always remember to give people their flowers while they’re still here.

Appreciating my brother

My brother, Alex Ofili, who has always been a “move in silence” type of guy, recently got a promotion from School Principal to Assistant Superintendent, and I am thrilled for him.

While I was in Michigan, my sister and I were able to see his new office, take him to a celebratory lunch, and make it known how proud we are seeing him flourish in his career.

I truly believe that when you see God blessing others, it means He’s nearby. Regardless of where you are on your journey, always remember we will all bloom when it’s our time.

While we celebrate our own victories, it’s very important to celebrate our loved ones’ wins as well. 

Celebrating my former training partner

My good friend, former training partner, pharmacist colleague, and fellow Olympian Uhunoma got married in Las Vegas, and I was so happy to be able to witness her marriage to Osade.

Going from our grueling training sessions in 2012 to celebrating her on the happiest day of her life in 2022, was very special to me. It is incredible to see how our relationship has evolved during the different phases of our lives.

Even though Uhunoma and I initially bonded over our mutual desire to be the best athletes and pharmacy students, our friendship has stood the test of time. This goes to show that being intentional about maintaining relationships as you evolve can be incredibly rewarding.

Reuniting with my best friend

The saying that “good friends are the family you get to choose” has proven so true in my life. This past weekend I was able to attend Uhunoma’s wedding with my best friend Omonye and even though it had been nearly a year since we last saw each other in person, we picked up right where we left off.

Omo and I met 2006 during out pre pharmacy classes and became fast friends. We bonded over both being Nigerian, our desire to become pharmacists,  and our down to earth approach to life.

Now, several years, husbands, kids, and family relocations later, we are still very close. This is a testament to a friendship standing the test of time and the importance of people making an effort to grow a friendship. There is something special in knowing that even though you live hundreds of miles apart, your friend is only a call away and will always have your back.

Just as with romantic relationships, if your girlfriend relationship can endure several life changes, a few disagreements, and proximity challenges, it shows you that the person is meant to be in your life for more than a season.

I am very particular about assigning the term “friend” to people because I give a lot to those relationships, and in turn I have high expectations for my friends. I also have always valued the quality over the quantity of most things in life, especially friendships.

Now, I know that some relationships are meant to be for a season, and trying to force them after they’ve run their course can be harmful to your mental health. But with that, there is an art to having discernment on which relationships are meant for a season, and which ones are meant for a lifetime.

Regardless of which type of relationship you’re looking to nurture, one thing remains true: good people are hard to come by so when you have a good person in your life, it’s important to truly appreciate it.

At a wedding with my sister Cindy while in Michigan. It goes without saying how incredibly close we are and I love her deeply.

Good people in your corner can uplift you, hold you accountable, keep you grounded, motivate you, and just help you to become a better version of yourself. And this is invaluable. We were never created to do life alone and as I’m getting older I’m appreciating the importance of strong relationships even more.

It is my hope that your relationships are fruitful and that you feel like you’re able to be your best self with the people you’re closest with.

Here’s to nurturing high quality relationships and remaining grateful for all the great people in our lives.

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