This I Know: Loss

American asks four wonks to weigh in on a single topic

Illustra­tion by
Traci Daberko

human heart, scoreboard, scale, poker table

Rabbi Richard Agler

On January 26, 2012, after finishing up at the international development firm where she worked in Washington, our 26-year-old daughter Talia Agler, CAS/BA '06, went for a jog. Blocks from her office, she was struck by a car; she died the next day.

Tali was a bright, vivacious, warm, and loving young woman. Her loss was devastating to everyone who knew her. In many ways we have not recovered, and in many ways we never will.

We are comforted by the fact that Tali made the world a better place—in life and in death. Her donated organs saved five people. The Centre for Domestic Training and Development in Nairobi, Kenya, where she interned while at AU, named their new rescue and rehabilitation center the Talia Agler Girls Shelter in her honor. The Tali Fund ( insures that the work she was passionate about continues.

Legacy is no replacement for loss, but we are grateful for every bit of it that she has left us.

Agler is director of the Tali Fund.

Emma Wallace

[A loss] causes a mix of emotions. The first one you go through is "What happened?" It's almost a bit of disbelief. It then turns into frustration in the sense that you prepared for many hours mentally and physically, so you wonder, "How did it go wrong?"

As a player, especially in a critical game, it definitely hits you in your gut. You have to take a deep breath. As a coach, that gut feeling is that you've let your team down. It can be emotional because you want your players to succeed. You ask yourself, "What could we have done better to prepare them?" Losing sometimes highlights areas that need drastic improvement. You hope that your players are able to see that.

In the immediate aftermath, losing is not a good thing. But I think in the long term and in life after athletics, it can help kids grow and teach valuable lessons.

Wallace is head coach of AU's women's lacrosse team, and still reflects on the final game of her playing career at Johns Hopkins University, a 2007 loss to Duke.

Kevin Wyatt

In 2013 one of my nephews passed suddenly; his death gave me a reality check. At the service I challenged my brothers and sisters to a Biggest Loser competition. No one took it seriously but me. When I got on the scale that day, I was 270. But, it's like Nike says: just do it. You have to start somewhere. You didn't gain it in a day and you're not going to lose it in a day.

When I started, I couldn't even walk around my block without stopping. Now I can walk 10 miles and if I don't walk, my body says to me, "Hey, what's going on?" I also do Zumba four days a week and I join most of the challenges AHealthyU offers.

Today, I weigh 225. I get on the scale every day and for me, no weight gain is a victory. My biggest motivation to stay healthy is my 13-year-old daughter, Karla. She plays volleyball, runs track, and cheerleads. Before I couldn't keep up with her. Now I can.

Wyatt is a shuttle supervisor; he just celebrated his 25th anniversary at AU.

Daniel Steinberg, Kogod/BSBA '10

With gambling, there's enough luck involved that you know sometimes you're going to have bad days or a bad month. I have lost thousands of dollars in a day. Those losses are going to come.

It's really hard to believe when you're losing, even though you know statistically those times are going to come, that you're still good. It's a hit to your confidence and your ego, and it can make you make worse decisions. With poker you can make the right play with a large probability of winning the pot, and then get unlucky. Sometimes if I've lost a lot I'll say, "Maybe I should wager less and make life a little easier for myself."

In the baseball season there was one time where I got off to a really good start, but then almost every game went to extra innings and I ended up not doing well. It hurts a lot to lose, but I've won more than I've lost, and it's really fun to win.

Steinberg is a professional daily fantasy sports player (and former professional poker player) and coowner of