Since I’ve had kids old enough to play sports or participate in team activities, I’ve coached. My resume includes T-ball, softball, baseball, football, soccer, & Destination Imagination (check this one out). Every team & child has had a distinct personality, but over time the kids have grown up, some are even married with kids of their own. I’ve forgotten names and the faces are now blurry. But often, one touches my heart.
This year it’s Ethan (not his real name). Ethan is obese. During warm ups at soccer practice, he struggles to stretch. When time comes to run a lap, he always goes last because he doesn’t want to hold up the line. From the outside, there’s nothing remarkable. I coached teams in the past years that’s played against him, and never really gave him a second thought. However this year, I’ve discovered there’s a very special person shining bright for those that get to know him.
The first thing I noticed about Ethan was his manners. He never asks or answers a question without a please or sir. That is, unfortunately, becoming a rare trait in today’s youth. Ethan is the first to help up a fallen team mate, or offer knuckles or a high five for a nice play. His smile is infectious, as is his positive attitude.
Friday night at practice, I asked him his plans for the night. He said he was going home, getting his homework finished, so he could spend the rest of the weekend being awesome. “What did you say?” I asked. He repeated his plans. I was blown away by his answer. It sat on my brain all night and I had to get more details.
After Saturday’s game, I asked Ethan how his Friday night went. He said it was fine. I then asked him what he meant the night before by “being awesome.” He said that he thinks of ways to be a better person, and ways to be nice to other people. Holy crap. This is an 11 year old kid! I patted his shoulder and told him to never stop being awesome. He looked up and said “Never!” and jogged off to his parents.
I’m amazed at kid’s attitude. Instead of feeling left out or embarrassed by his obesity, as I sometimes do (by definition, I’m obese as well), he totally ignores it and creates light in the darkness.
I think I’m the one being coached this season, by an 11 year old, and I’ll gladly forfeit my title to be just like him.