CEDAR RAPIDS — “Selfless, passionate, humble.”
These are the three words Xavier volleyball coach Austin Filer used to describe his grandmother, Dixie Cirkl.
Filer recently achieved this 100th win at Xavier High School, but that alone means nothing, he said, without the support from the Xavier community and his family, especially his 82-year-old grandmother.
In 2007, at age 70, Cirkl was diagnosed with macular degeneration, a progressive eye disease that caused her to become legally blind. It does not, however, stop her from supporting her grandson.
“It means a lot to me that she attends our matches,” Filer said. “She cannot see what is happening on the court. She cannot see if we are winning or losing, but she continues to go to support our players and coaches regardless.”
Cirkl has been going to Filer’s games since 2014 when he began coaching at Mount Mercy University.
“I go to his games because I love him and want to support him in everything he does,” Cirkl said.
For Cirkl, it is not as easy as jumping in the car and driving to a match. She can no longer read or drive, but still attends almost every match with Filer’s parents.
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“My grandmother is one of the most selfless people I have ever met,” Filer said. “Her passion for serving her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren is truly humbling.
“I could give countless examples of her giving without any reservations.”
No matter the outcome of the game, Cirkl always is his biggest supporter.
“My favorite part about going to the games is when they win,” Cirkl said. “It is fabulous Austin got 100 wins as a coach, but my favorite part about Austin is not his success, but how passionate and kind he is.”
Filer said he has learned so much from his grandmother over the years.
“The biggest thing she has taught me is to give of yourself without a second thought and do the things you love without the fear of others,” Filer said.
Cirkl has found a way to live with macular degeneration. She still plays volleyball and bags with her grandson and the rest of the volleyball coaches.
“The Lord dealt me this deck of cards and I have accepted it,” Cirkl said.
The top-ranked Saints host Dubuque Senior tonight at 7.