TAMPA - Like many young and old Americans, redshirt freshman Caitlyn Breen has been affected by a family member that is serving their nation in war.
Breen is the proud daughter of Matt Breen, who has been stationed in Afghanistan and the Middle East for nine years, leaving his wife and three kids in Florida, and only comes home four months at a time.
With Caitlyn in school and a member of the USF volleyball team, she does not talk to him very often because of many obstacles, including the eight and a half hour time difference. Every time he is awake, she is in practice or school. He speaks to his wife, Lisa, twice a day either through Skype or on the telephone.
The USF Communications department and GoUSFBulls.com launched a live chat platform from sporting events during the 2008-09 academic year. The goal was to connect directly to fans, create interaction and provide some commentary and insight.
It is supposed to be a fun and entertaining platform, but it provided a much greater connection during a recent volleyball game.
On Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009, the volleyball team traveled to the College of Charleston to face Lafayette on the second day of a tournament. Within the first 45 minutes of the match, a fan named Dad Breen commented, "Dad Breen watching live online from Afghanistan."
Instantly knowing Caitlyn's father had joined that chat, for the first time ever, other fans followed with comments such as "stay safe" and "your daughter has been a monster this year."
Breen, who works as a firearms instructor training Afghan border police for the Department of Defense, enjoyed the banter but admitted he misses watching her play live.
After the Bulls completed a 3-0 sweep over Lafayette, Matt left a comment saying, "Can someone tell Caitlyn I was online for the game, LOVE YA, Caitlyn's Dad."
Not knowing her player had the opportunity to speak to her dad regularly, head coach Claire Lessinger willingly let Caitlyn skip the postgame team meeting and chat with her father.
Her first question was, "Hey Dad, how's the weather?" After replying it was hot and sunny, Caitlyn responded with, "I'm playing really well, I wish u were here to c me."
As she got off the chat, she told him to stay safe and sent her love. Matt still tries to join the live chat during the midday games to catch a glimpse of his daughter's first collegiate season.
Matt was in the country during her first season with the Bulls, but Caitlyn was redshirted that year and her parents only got to enjoy watching her teammates play. 2009 has been a whole different experience as Breen has played in every match and finds herself leading BIG EAST freshmen in blocks per set.
Needless to say, Matt is a proud father and one that will be home soon on December 1. Matt expects that his next tour of duty will be worked around the Bulls' 2010 season so that he can be in the stands to watch his daughter play.
Read the Chat Transcript that took place between Breen and her father HERE