Are You Willing To Fill A Gap?
He didn’t want to show it, but he was hurt. Adrian started playing baseball two years ago and is still learning the fundamentals, but he liked it enough that he decided to try out for a travel baseball team.
He tried hard and did everything the coaches asked at the tryout, but it wasn’t enough, Adrian didn’t make it. The head coach was gracious and recommended that Adrian tryout for another travel team that was looking for some players. Adrian kept his head held high and showed up to the next tryout and played his heart out for his prospective coaches. I received an e-mail a few days later from the head coach, thanking Adrian for attending the tryout, but notifying me that Adrian did not make the team. Again, Adrian was rejected.
I didn’t tell him immediately, because we were visiting his grandparents for the Labor Day Weekend, but when I did, his eyes drifted away from mine and I could see the pain and disappointment in his expression. He didn’t want to show his hurt, but his slumped shoulders and somber mood betrayed him. He was hurt, and I hurt with him.
What made it worse, is that his sister, Ashley, did make a travel softball team. Adrian sat idly in the back of the car as Ashley, oblivious to Adrian’s pain, chirped on about her softball team and their upcoming practice. I smiled and engaged with Ashley in the conversation, but kept an eye on my dejected son.
“It’s hard to hear you talk about it, Dad.” Adrian confessed to me later when I asked him what was wrong. I understood his feelings and searched for a way to ease his pain, but was coming up with nothing that could help.
A few hours later, after Adrian went to bed, my cell phone rang. It was Adrian’s very first baseball coach, from a few years ago.
“Hey, Erick, I ran into your wife this evening and she told me about Adrian’s situation.” He stated calmly on the other end.
“Yeah, it’s a bummer, I feel for him.” I respond.
“Well, I have an offer for Adrian to consider.” He stated. I remained silent on my end, curious.
“I would like to see if Adrian wanted to join my team. I talked it over with the other coaches and they agreed to bring him on board with us, if Adrian is willing.”
“Wow.” I respond in complete surprise. My wife, Alia, ran into Adrian’s old coach, earlier that evening, while picking Ashley up from softball practice. As he always did, the old coach asked how Adrian was doing. Alia explained to him that Adrian tried hard at two separate tryouts, but didn’t make either team.
“Listen.” He stated with genuine tone over the phone, “Your son, was a joy for me to coach. I’ve been doing this for 41 years and I can confidently say that Adrian is special, and if he is willing, I want to coach him and bring out whatever is inside of him for the world to discover.”
“Um,” I stumble through my words, shocked at the unexpected offer. “That’s great! Let me speak with Adrian and I will get back with you tomorrow.”
“That sounds good. Again, I cannot tell you enough how impressed I was with your son. He deserves the opportunity to play baseball, and I want to help him anyway that I can.”
When I got off the phone, Adrian was out of his bed and waiting to talk to me. He heard the conversation and was excited to talk about it. When I explained the offer and asked if he was interested, he responding with a resounding “Yes!” before I could finish explaining it to him.
“I want to do it, Dad, let’s call him back and tell him right now!” Adrian stated with excitement.
“Hi Coach, this is Adrian.” Adrian held my cell phone tight to his ear, a big smile on his face. “Thank you for the opportunity, Coach.” Adrian stated with relief.
Two days later, Adrian, was out on the ball field taking batting practice, reunited with his old coach. The coach arranged a private practice with Adrian to get him up to speed so he could be ready to join his new team at the next game. I stood at a distance watching with appreciation as Adrian’s coach patiently walked him through fundamentals and batting drills. Adrian looked up at him with reverence and soaked in every word, his young and impressionable heart being filled with wisdom and love from a man that was willing to fill the gap in his life.
We all have something of value to offer the world, but are we willing to do it when the opportunity arises? In a few days, Adrian went from being rejected to being fully embraced by a man that was willing to add value in Adrian’s life. He didn’t have to, he’s busy, but he was willing. I know that many years from now when Adrian reflects on his own life, he will remember the moment when someone of influence took an interest in him and was willing to lift him up so that he could discover his full potential. How about you? Would you be willing?