Recently I noticed a picture of a creative art project on Pinterest. (And I am determined to make it a reality in my home.) On repurposed pallet wood, someone painted the phrase, “BELIEVE THERE IS GOOD IN THE WORLD.” The clever part is the font colors and placement of letters, so that one’s eye is drawn to the call, “BE THE GOOD.”
“Be the good.” Demonstrate the good. Model the good. As I think about this, youth sports come to mind. Most of us recognize that athletes benefit from the team experience, learning the value of hard work and team effort. As the adage goes, “together everyone achieves more.” Everyone has a role to play. By facing and overcoming individual challenges, each member of the team grows as part of the journey toward a common goal. Each player discovers what it means to contribute, to be part of something bigger than him or herself. They see that the better they work together, the better they become as a team. Together they experience success and learn how to deal with temporary setbacks and losses.
Clearly, none of this could happen without coaches. Coaches teach the game. Coaches train their athletes each practice to do it right – to practice as they play. Coaches instruct on the “X’s and O’s.” Coaches expect and encourage an athlete’s best performance (and not always in the most gentle voices). Coaches provide an environment of structure, accountability, and expectation of success- both on and off the field.
Quite often the families of the coaching staff wrap their arms collectively around the players and coaches. They share their love and support as an extended family.
Many of us have benefitted from this experience as an athlete and/or as a parent observing a child’s development and increased confidence. Regardless of life situation, every athlete has a need to mature in some way, an untapped desire to become a better version of himself, and the team helps him get there.
What so many of us can’t fathom, however, are the extraordinary challenges that some student athletes face on a day to day basis. Children whose life experiences are beyond our scope of reality. For them, this TEAM experience of family may be the only consistent GOOD in their lives.
- Good in teammates who provide encouragement to rise to a challenge and who tutor if that challenge is in the classroom.
- Good in teammates who make sure you get to practice on time.
- Good in coaches who make sure you have the gear you need.
- Good in coaches who ask specifics about classes and explain how a GPA works, that you need to start strong and stay strong.
- Good in coaches who tell it straight about what’s OK and what’s not OK.
- Good in coaches who tell young men that they have choices to make and that those choices define them, regardless of temptation and opportunities.
- Good in coaches who give rides home to stranded players and by doing so, better understand home situations that may have otherwise gone undetected.
- Good in coaches who monitor whether a player has a stable roof over his head and then don’t hesitate to open up their own homes.
Recently, a local high school football player was interviewed after a tough state semi-final loss. He talked about the team as his family. He shared, several times, that his teammates and coaches kept him out of trouble. This young man has been part of the GOOD for four years. I pray that he carries it forward as well as he carried the football all season. I pray that all his teammates embrace the opportunities ahead with the same intensity and realize that their success on the field is just the beginning.
So, thank you to all the coaches and their families for making a difference and for feeling that it is a privilege to do so. Thank you for being the GOOD. Thank you for giving your time, energy and hearts for the betterment of our kids. Thank you for growing love. Because of you, many who might not have thought so otherwise, really do believe there is good in the world.
Jesus said to his disciples: “What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” –Matthew 18:12-14