In the second edition of "The Golden Eagle Tribune", Olivia Puttin tells a personal tale about her life and her father, James Puttin.
If you want to know me, you need to know who made me.
Growing up, I lived with my mother, Kelly, and loving grandparents, Rick and Gail Johnson. We lived in the small town of Wadena, Minn., a place that I am proud to call my home. I knew that there was something missing, however I did not know exactly what it was. Something that many people do not know about me is that I do not know who my biological dad is, and I probably never will, which I am okay with. Nevertheless, what I have learned during my 20 years of life is that blood does not matter. What matters is those who come into your life and make a difference. Those that make you who you are. Those that push you to be the best that you can be because they only want to see you succeed.
Most of my friends and family know me as "Olie", short for "Olie the Goalie". The name came from the position that I play in soccer, which is the goalkeeper. Being a goalkeeper is the one thing that I learned early on that I was good at and I immediately fell in love with the position. My favorite hour of the day (and even now) has always been goalkeeper training, (I dedicated an entire week to goalkeeper training at Camp Shutout every summer for five years). During that one hour, I have been able to clear my head and just be Olie. Although, there are few people that know me as just Olivia. Not Olivia the soccer player, but Olivia the girl who is awful at math class. Olivia the girl who forgets everything. Olivia the world’s worst finder, and Olivia the girl who does not know how to clean up her room at home.
One of the few people that I am talking about is my dad, James Puttin, but if you ever meet him, you can call him Jamey. My dad came into my life when I was four years old, and when I was five he married my mom. From there, we moved to the city of Rogers, where I still live today. Growing up, my dad and I had our struggles, one of them being middle school math homework every night and some even deeper than that. One of the things that I can give him full credit for is pushing me to play the sport that I love, which is soccer. Soccer has gotten me through everything in life, and even though I do not graduate for another two years, I am trying to figure out what I am going to do when my soccer career ends. He is also my biggest hero, someone I can go to for anything, and has been a shoulder to cry on during the tough times.
2016 was a very challenging year for our relationship. We barely got along, argued every day, and mentally I could not handle all of the big changes that were coming. I felt overwhelmed and trapped. I remember the breaking point; it was the fourth of July. I had told my parents I was about to call my coach and tell him that I was not going to Minnesota Crookston anymore. The first thing my dad did was call me right away and told me to drive to Wadena from Grand Rapids to talk about the situation. I drove two and a half hours from my friend's cabin to my home town to be with my family. He knew that what I was about to do was a giant mistake. As I look back on that weekend, I can easily say that phone call he made saved me. From then on, our relationship started to improve. I went to school, played soccer, and got the best grades I have ever made. My freshman year was very mentally and physically challenging, but I learned so much about myself that I never thought I would learn.
Then one day, a special idea came to mind. I called up my grandpa Rich and my mom and told them about the gift I wanted to give to my dad for Christmas; I wanted to legally change my last name from ‘Johnson’ to ‘Puttin,’ for my dad. It was a very long process but right away, we got started on all of the paperwork and got it filed and had it ready just in time for Christmas. On Christmas Eve, my family and I surprised him. To this day, it has been the coolest thing that I have ever done for anyone.
My dad has given me so many opportunities and has pushed me to do things I never thought possible. Some of these are winning the Disney soccer tournament, getting my first 4.0 GPA last semester, and even playing at the semi-pro soccer level. He has lead me in the right direction and for that dad, thank you. Thank you for being my hero. Thank you for helping me with math. Thank you for being the best soccer coach I’ve ever had. Thank you for helping me play at the next level. Thank you for never giving up on me. And most importantly, thank you for making me the person that I am today.