Michael and Aiden

November 2019 TeamMates of the Month: Talking and Listening

Saratoga Elementary is a special place for Michael and his mentee Aiden. Michael’s daughters attended the school, and a Saratoga staff member challenged him to become a TeamMate. For Aiden, it’s where he began school and his relationship with Michael.

When Michael and Aiden began meeting in third grade, they formed several meaningful traditions: playing heated “Sorry” matches – a winners’ tally kept on Michael’s phone; building Lego creations; and talking football. Michael is a die-hard Packers fan, and Aiden, a Texan supporter. Aiden plays football on a youth league, and his interest in football has prompted his plan to attend Lincoln Southeast High School upon completion of eighth grade at Scott Middle School.

As Michael and Aiden interact, there is bantering, ribbing, and bursts of laughter. “He thinks he’s sparky,” Aiden says with a grin.

“We like to give each other a hard time,” Michael adds. But the two know when to set fun aside if there is an issue that needs attention. During middle school, Aiden has had to deal with some challenges. Michael’s been his sounding board through the struggles. “We’re both talkers,” Michael says, “but Aiden talks more, and I’m a good listener.”

Michael has been surprised by Aiden’s resiliency. “He’s tough.”

“And quirky and weird,” Aiden adds.

“It’s true,” Michael confirms, “but he owns it. He’s confident in who he is.”

The friends share differences, as well. “He thinks. I do,” Aiden says summarizing how they process life uniquely.

Both Michael and Aiden have grown as a result of TeamMates. “It’s given me a chance to open up,” Aiden says.

“I’ve learned that friends come in all ages,” Michael says. The two look at each other and burst into laughter.

“Seriously, it’s great to have a person in your life you can talk and laugh with,” Aiden adds.

Although Aiden plans to pursue football, his back-up plan is training to be a chef. “I make my own version of the Big Juicy Lucy Burger that’s awesome.” Another round of laughter.

Michael intends to mentor Aiden through his senior year. “One meeting a week, being someone constant in Aiden’s life is important to me,” Michael says. “I want to be someone he can look to as a role model.”