We lost the first game in our end of the season little league double header and really, we weren’t surprised. Maybe we had won a single game all year. Maybe. So we went home that Friday night with plans to come back the next morning, lose and then get on with our Summer. I, for one, had plenty of kick the can to play, trails to ride and general mischief to get into. I’ll withhold those details for fear of the statute of limitations still running.
But something happened between shaking hands with the other team Friday night and 9am the next morning. 38 years later and I still have no idea. But Saturday morning we arrived to the field and had a new coach. Our head coach and assistant coach, both whom are dads, quit. We only had one more game to lose, so I’m not sure why they didn’t stick it out. But Mr. Meeks, another dad agreed to coach us to our last soul crushing defeat.
Or so we thought.
We won that morning. Something was different. Maybe it was just luck. A blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then. This means that Summer is delayed a game. We’ll have to come back Monday night to lose that second game. Except we didn’t. Well, we did show up, but we didn’t lose. The blind squirrels found another nut and by the end of the game we definitely realized that something was different. Mr. Meeks was a passionate motivator; a natural leader who could pull out the best in every player. He was active and vocal throughout the game hollering encouragement and advice. He infused an energy into the team. And maybe by late Monday night a little bit of confidence.
Our unexpected victory streak must have wrinkled Mr. Meeks’ plans because he traveled a lot for work and rarely if ever made it to our games, but we had another game Tuesday night. We won it, too. In 3 consecutive games, we tripled our win rate from the entire season.
We won Wednesday night. We won Thursday night. We steamrolled every team and showed up Friday night to face Weddington for the championship. They were the best team in the league and no one was surprised to see them on Friday night. But we were a different story. It was Rudy, it was David versus Goliath, it was epic. If ESPN had been around, I’m sure that we would have been the story of the week. The only problem was that Weddington had yet to lose in the tournament. If we beat them, we had to beat them again in a doubleheader.
Beat them we did in the first game. It was a 2-1 pitching duel. That victory was a crowning achievement for us. One that I still remember so many years later. It doesn’t matter that they torched us in the second game. We all felt like winners.
I think we all learned a valuable lesson. At least I did and it’s the difference that one person can make in the lives of others. I don’t discount the efforts that year of our head coach and assistant coach. They coached every practice, every game and taught us the basics. They prepared us for the moment. But one man had the little something extra to pull out everything our regular coaches had put into us all season.
It also taught me that inside all of us is the potential for greater things. It may lie dormant until we work to extract it or we’re blessed to have someone come along and help us start digging. As a father that is one of my most important jobs.
To be a Mr. Meeks to my kids.