First off let me start by saying Happy Father’s Day!
Sports is commonly assigned as the binding agent for fathers and their children in our society. From T-Ball, Flag Football to varsity, collegiate and pro’s.
To playing catch, watching from the stands as their children play or perhaps watching a professional game together, many of us can recall some of our fondest memories with our fathers that are related to sports.
Sports, for me, helped my father and I bond while he served in the military and taught me some valuable life lessons in his absence.
My father Tim had 1 year left of service in the Air Force while I had 2 years left of high school. I could either finish my high school education in Montana or move to Southeast Kansas my junior year and restart my social life.
I decided to move to Southeast Kansas with my mother and brothers while my father stayed back and finished his Air Force enlistment.
It also proved to be a turning point in my life that would find a passion and connection.
Prior to moving to Southeast Kansas the highest level of sports I played was junior high wrestling. Before that summer league baseball & rec league basketball. Playing any varsity sport was the furthest thing from my mind.
My dad would always make sure to drive me to each and every practice and I knew he would be there in the stands at my game cheering. (He has the talent for a sharp, high pitch whistle that can be cut through the loudest of crowds)
When I moved to Labette County High School I decided for the first time I would suit up with pads and play football. Ever.
Without a father figure in my life for one year, football coach Craig Hartman, Gary Spruill, Eddie Green, and other coaches would unknowingly fill the void.
You see through teaching me the game of football they were also coaching me about some life lessons: always give your best, dig a bit deeper to push yourself to the limit and others.
Sometimes the best life lessons are given can also be from your coach as well as your parents.
I was also lucky to be around Labette County head basketball coaches Kristy Snyder and the recently retired Brad Smith. Seeing their passion and the way they coached they unknowingly had an impact on my life while I was missing a parental figure in my life.
My senior year my father was able to watch me play football, hear me do public announcing at the varsity basketball games and I discovered a hidden passion for sports.
That connection and bond still continues to this day 15 years later.
Sports isn’t only a bonding agent between a parent and their child, but also teaching young children life lessons from the game that they can apply in life from sometimes the most unknowing ways, like a head coach.
To all the fathers who take their kids to practices, still show up to support from the stands even if their child isn’t a starting player, in every game, Happy Father’s Day.
To all the head coaches, from rec league to high school, you are sometimes unknowingly a parent figure in some of your players lives. While you didn’t sign up for that role, thank you for giving time away from your family in helping play a role that shapes how your players grow on and off the field.
I know I am forever grateful for those coaches and the lessons the game I carry to me today as a father to 3 kids.
Happy Father’s Day.