This week, one of our own, Pat Haneef, lost her husband. The Haneef family has been such a wonderful part of my life, that I wanted to take a moment to honor Pat, who has been such a great support to me through some difficult times in my life, and to honor Tayyiba Haneef-Park, a beautiful, strong mama who was a teammate of mine at Long Beach State and whom I have loved watching in the Olympics, as they mourn the loss of their larger-than-life husband and father, Mo Haneef.
Tayyiba and I were teammates only for one year at Long Beach. I was a 5th year senior during her redshirt freshman year. Even though their daughter was redshirting, Mo and Pat came to every single match that we played. My career at Long Beach was a short one, as I was a transfer during my junior year, had to redshirt that first year, then was short on units and ineligible to compete my 4th year. My 5th year, I had to fight to earn a spot on the court, then fight to keep that spot. Sometimes I succeeded; sometimes I didn’t. But one constant memory that I have of that year is seeing Mo’s smile after each match. He was always down on the court with us, congratulating us, and giving me words of encouragement. No matter how down I was or how frustrated I was, Mo’s smile was infectious. He encouraged all of us. He was as big of a cheerleader of mine as my own parents were.
When I watched Tayyiba compete in the Olympics (2004, 2008, and 2012, she rocks, you guys), I remember seeing Pat and Mo up in the stands, cheering those ladies on. I remember the pride in his eyes as they won silver medals in both 2008 and 2012. My husband fondly remembers chatting with Mo at the Long Beach State alumni events, which he and Pat faithfully attended, even when Tayyiba couldn’t attend. And even still, all these years later, Mo continued to encourage me as a woman, as a mother, and as a person.
There are so many more aspects to this wonderful man’s life, some that I have only learned about since his passing. He was an amazing Track and Field coach who inspired thousands of young athletes here in Southern California. He was also an accomplished basketball player, playing for Northwestern University, as well as professionally in Italy. But one thing is for sure, he was loved by all who knew him, and will be sorely missed.
I ask you, again, our faithful readers, to join me in prayers and well-wishes for our sweet Pat, Tayyiba, and Tayyiba’s brother Arshad. While I would never assume to know “exactly” what they’re going through, I know that the days, weeks, and months ahead will be filled with grief and sadness, as well as laughter through tears as they mourn the loss of their husband and father. Pat, Tayyiba, and Arshad, we send out our love to you, and know that our prayers will be with you through the difficult times.