As a fan, we live and die with our favorite teams. When the team is on a winning streak, we’re on top of the world. When the team is struggling, we struggle.
But when you work for a sports team, those ups and downs are multiplied ten fold. Beyond the emotional effects, when it comes right down to it, your financial well-being is tied to those wins and losses. I bet you can go to the front office of any sports team on the day after a game, walk down the hall, and know within minutes whether the team won or lost the previous night, without speaking or hearing a word.
For those of us here at PNC Arena, there was always one person who rose above the doldrums, no matter how low the lows got. A few well-chosen words from her radio-friendly voice, and we could almost instantly see the sun beyond the clouds. That person was Doris E. Barksdale, who passed away last night at the age of 77.
Doris joined the organization in 1994, and moved to Raleigh in 1997. Outside of the PNC Arena’s walls, she made a major impact in the Triangle community, helping to identify charities and organizations that the Hurricanes could become involved with. She founded the remarkably successful “Pick Up a Book and Read” program, through which third, fourth and fifth grade students in North Carolina read more than 4.4 million pages last year.
But inside these walls, her presence lifted us. It’s strangely appropriate that we lost her yesterday, in the midst of the team’s struggles, with most of the team and arena’s employees finding out that we lost her on a chilly and gray April morning in Raleigh. This is exactly the kind of day when she would keep her head high and pop into our individual offices with an encouraging smile. She would look right in our eyes, say the exact right thing and then move on to do the same for someone else. When things were going well, I always enjoyed shouting “E!” as she passed in the hall, carrying on the middle-initial nickname my predecessor, Jerry Peters, used to yell out.
It’s possible nobody here was closer to Doris than Jim Rutherford. Upon hearing of her passing, nearly everyone seemed to mention Jim’s name soon thereafter, knowing the valuable role she played in his life. Given the closeness of their relationship, nobody would have faulted Jim for staying home today. But he’s here, busy and walking up and down the halls. As she would want him to be.
Doris had tons of sayings, words of wisdom for seemingly every situation. One you can find on the top of the website for “Circles,” a positive-thinking training program she created: “Who we are is the sum total of our life experiences. The decisions we make daily sum up what we become.”
Doris decided that every day was worth living in a positive manner, no matter what challenges we may face. And so, even though “E” is no longer with us, on a day as cloudy as this one, all of us who knew her understand how to see the sun shining through the storm.