The Dallas Stars are considered one of the best teams in the NHL this season, led by a general manager who has built up the organization while facing adversity at home.
As the team takes the ice, general manager Jim Nill keeps things in perspective, while locked in on every pass, check and shot.
“I’ve been hired to put the best team on the ice I can under the circumstances and with what we have to work with, and we’re going to go win,” Nill said. “That’s how I’m wired or I wouldn’t be here.”
Nill would also not be working as the general manager of the Stars without his wife Bekki.
“Knowing that he’s so good at his job, that makes it easier for me,” she said.
Because of her support, and because she told him to take the job when it was offered to him in the spring of 2013.
“She said we’re going, 'We’re going to Dallas,'” Jim said. “It’s almost like a calling. I said, 'Let’s slow it down here a little bit, let’s analyze this and make sure our ducks are in order,' and my number one concern was her.”
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She was Jim’s top concern, because just two years prior, in May 2011, Bekki Nill was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer.
“You go back to when she was first diagnosed,” Jim said. “It’s devastating when you get that news.”
Devastating, and it meant a move from their home in Detroit to Dallas would, they thought, cause Bekki to have to completely overhaul her cancer treatment. But that changed when the Nills told her doctor in Detroit of their potential plans.
“She said my mentor, the person I look up to in the medical field, is in Dallas,” Jim said.
“I didn’t even know we would live here or where Baylor was,” Bekki said. “So yes, confirmation, absolutely.”
Confirmation, and they believed an opportunity for inspiration, living with a tremendous spirit every day in their new home city.
“We know that we’re not guaranteed tomorrow, and when I live every day as if today is my last, you’re just flooded with positive energy and just the excitement of I get another day,” Bekki said.
She uses those days and her experience with a difficult diagnosis, while getting treatment every three weeks, to work as a mentor to young women who face their own cancer battles.
“I don’t want anybody to feel alone going through it,” Bekki said. “There is a fear in a diagnosis. You want to know that there’s a hope.”
“We’ve been through some adversity, but you learn some things you can’t control,” Jim said. “That’s where your faith has to come into play. How do you deal with those things?”
Jim and Bekki Nill have dealt with adversity head on, making the most of their lives as he works his dream job with the Dallas Stars, while keeping everything in perspective. They are driven to make a difference in the remaining time they have together.
“We’ve put all of our trust in God’s plan for our life and that takes a whole lot of burden off everyday living,” Bekki said.
“We’re at peace with it and that’s why we think it’s important to help people whatever way we can,” Jim said. “How we do that, we’re still finding ways. We still think there’s more. We’re not done yet. We’ve got a long ways we’re going, and that’s the exciting part.”