“A person being ‘too busy’ is a myth,” Mandy Hale, a British actress, said. “People make time for the things that are really important to them.”

This quote continues to resonate with me here at Rice. At Rice, you hear that word “busy” all the time. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to find somebody on campus who isn’t busy. But as Hale mentioned, no matter how frantic our lives are, we choose to make time for the things in life we care about. This is an important lesson to take to heart: one that I have recently discovered about myself and one that soccer senior midfielder Maddie Lundberg has learned as well.

First, I’ll talk briefly about the harsh realization I came across a few weeks ago and then discuss Lundberg’s story. My story revolves around a student-athlete many may not have heard too much about. His name is Gavin Johnson. Johnson was a freshman catcher on the Rice baseball team last year. He was a hard worker, a quality clubhouse guy and somebody whom I interacted with countless times last season. Johnson didn’t play last season and, to his credit, did not let it bother him. He took a redshirt year and was below the depth chart behind three other Rice catchers.

This year Johnson did not return to Rice but instead transferred to New Mexico Junior College. Here is the tough part for me. I didn’t even realize that he was gone. I was so caught up in my senior year and all that I had going on and my “busy” schedule that it didn’t resonate with me that Johnson was no longer in the clubhouse. In fact, I still haven’t called him or sent him a note to this day. That’s not who I aim to be: I was caught up in so many things that I lost sight of what was important, intentional or not.

This led me to reach out and speak to Lundberg. She transferred to Rice from the Air Force Academy last year and played in 19 matches (eight starts), scoring two goals for the Owls. Through my time covering the soccer team, I knew she was not playing to start the season but didn’t really investigate into why that was. It turns out that her absence was caused by a scary bout of health problems.

Lundberg started having complications back in May when she suffered a seizure. The doctors still don’t know what exactly is causing these problems. Lundberg and the soccer team set a goal that she could be ready by Conference USA play, which began with last week’s match against the University of North Texas. However, her health regressed just a few weeks before the match to the point that she ended up in the hospital for an entire week. According to Lundberg, she was not alone even when she was away from the team--the team was not “too busy” for her.

“All three coaches came to the hospital, and the last few times I had met with them I prepared [and] told myself that this [path to recovery] isn’t working … and in terms of a soccer player I [couldn’t offer] much,” Lundberg said.

Lundberg said it broke her heart not being able to play, but she never expected what the team had decided to do for her next.

The coaching staff returned a few days later and informed Lundberg that the coaches and soccer players had decided to dedicate the entire Conference USA season to her, beginning with the marquee matchup against UNT.

Lundberg was able to attend the North Texas game and said she was surprised once again when she entered the locker room.

“I walked into the locker room and totally oblivious; it took me five to 10 minutes to notice that everybody had [Lundberg’s No. 20] wristbands on, and then I walked onto the field [to see the field had “20” painted on both sides] and it was complete shock,” Lundberg said.

Lundberg said that if she could help the team in any way, even by being a motivation during the conference season, she would embrace that role.

“It’s hard to explain the feeling to just know that even though I’m not out there [on the field], they are still supporting me so much,” Lundberg said.

As for Lundberg’s health now, she said it is still touch and go.

“It’s a day by day, hour by hour thing,” Lundberg said. “[Doctors are] still trying to figure out what’s up, but we’ve ruled out a lot of big things, so that’s good, but you [also] can’t treat what you don’t know,” Lundberg said.

Through these difficult times, Lundberg said just being with the team continues to be huge for her.

“Being with the team is huge for me. Just being able to go practice and watch them or be in the locker room with them for 15 minutes or [have] lunch with them,” Lundberg said. “I remember my first day I got here in the preseason I could not walk at all and I was having my dad basically carry me to the field because I [knew] I’d feel better if I [could] just see the girls.”

Lundberg said she has learned the importance of being able to depend on others when in a time of need.

“I’m not so much a recluse but I like to be independent and do things on my own,” Lundberg said. “I’ve learned to depend on people, that’s why we’re here for each other. That [has been] a big stepping stone for me too.”

That is the beauty of a team and the beauty of being intentional with our actions and our thoughts in general. The coaching staff and Rice soccer team stopped being “too busy” and took action to do something special for Lundberg.

Far too many times as Rice students, we don’t step back, or in some cases, step out out of our comfort zones to identify the opportunities to feed into the lives of those around us. If I go about my day or week knowing that somebody like Maddie is having a difficult time, and continue to do nothing about it, then I have failed to recognize and act upon what is truly important. Therefore, I encourage the Rice community to think twice about the dangers of being “too busy,” and to instead make time for those who matter to us.