You know the hit Miranda Lambert song titled "The House That Built Me*"? About a woman who goes back and knocks on the door of her childhood home, asks to walk around and is flooded by memories stacked one-by-one that over time, made her who she is today. I love that song. How can you not?
I had a similar experience recently when I was on a great Midwest tour for my work with Sports ETA. While visiting Cincy, CLE, L'Ville, Indy and CBus, I stayed with my high school best friend's family for a few nights in the 'Nati. One humid evening, after a run at a local park, I drove through my old neighborhood then stopped at my old school, Sherwood Elementary. I didn't go admire the building. Rather, I went high atop the athletic fields overlooking the playground. A playground, I might add, that is chalk-full of injury-proof apparatuses, unlike when I was a kid when the objective of recess was to defy death daily.
Slowly, I started to remember...
- I remember walking through the woods at the top of my street to take the short-cut to the fields (we did crazy things like that back then).
- I remember my first softball practice with the coach who would coach me in every sport for nearly 8 years (he wore the same polyester coaching shorts every practice, you know the ones!).
This isn't my coach, but the outfit is on point. (Photo: Coach Glass Podcast)
- I remember two softball fields with meticulously manicured, thick, green grass in the outfield that spilled into a few soccer fields (not even second thoughts given to how unsafe it was to have simultaneous games going on).
- I remember sledding down the hill in between the fields in the winter time (only a couple broken arms resulted).
- I remember school field days kicking-off highly-anticipated summer vacation (God bless Field Day, am I right?).
- I remember playing 3rd base because I was the only kid that could throw it from 3rd to 1st (No wonder my shoulder is shot).
- I remember playing 4 or 5 games a day until the lightning bugs flickered at night (then we'd play capture the flag until someone's parents eventually figured out we never came home).
- I remember unknowingly seeing my passion for sports ignite (who knew those days would lead me down the path to my career?).
If I'm honest, I sat on that old, beat-up bench, exhausted from driving so hard in this career focused on this childhood passion of mine. The same bench where hundreds of kids have sat before and after my hay-day.
I smiled. I laughed. I cried. Sloppy tears.
Then it struck me...
These were the fields that built me.
|Here they are. Funny how majestic this place was in my mind.|
Now, I'm not naive enough to think it there were no obnoxious parents or hyper-competitive kids, but I hope we never forget these special places in the sports history books of each of our lives. It wasn't about $400 baseball bats, fancy elite travel team uniforms, and scholarships. Then it was about kids being kids, having fun, making memories and experiencing true community.
Today it's about taking a couple minutes to slow down, reflect, feel the feels, appreciate the journey, and be grateful for this awesome, beautiful, crazy thing we call life. We each have a unique story to tell. This is a little bit about mine.
"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory." - Dr. Seuss
This is Stoll on Sports.
(*Written by Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin)