Last week, just before Christian left for college, some important men in his life gathered to send him off. When he was in the eighth grade, a youth basketball league was just getting started in our little town. They were short coaches and so they asked some of the players to coach a second grade team. Since Christian had a brother in the second grade, he volunteered. It's on the sidelines of neighborhoods gyms that our boy found his gift and shone his light. Over the last 7 years, he's coached countless teams. One season, he coached Nick, Stephen, and Mary Beth, each on a different team. Or maybe he did that for two seasons; I can't remember.
What I do know with certainty is that he is the winningest coach in the league's history. More than that, I know (because I edited a paper on his player selection strategy) that he's always had a heart for the kid who needs a boost. And he has an extraordinary gift for boosting.
So, two dads who have coached with him throughout the years invited all the players who have ever played for him and they sent him off to do good in another small town. There were speeches. There was a beautiful slideshow, the gift of my friend Jenn.There was an announcement that he is the first coach ever elected to the Mercer-Lunsford Basketball Hall of Fame. And there was a tearful send off from the players he's touched the most--his brothers.
I've clipped just the end of the Stephen's speech (given on behalf of Stephen and Nick) because he sure summed up this moment for all of us.