I live adjacent to a vacant lot which was once part of the Holy Name School playground and then served that purpose for the neighborhood kids for years after the school was taken down.
I have missed the activity out there in more recent years, so was more than pleased when youngsters started gathering there this fall. Quite a few show up after school to play their version of football--running, throwing, tackling and, mostly, it seems to me, just falling down in a heap.
But they are having fun, exercising in open air, and best of all, they're not glued to some sort of sedentary electronic activity. The thing that pleases me most is that a dad whose work day ends at just the right time, drives up to their home across the street most every afternoon.
Though he has put in a long day on the job, he jumps from his trucks and joins the youngsters, seeming to have every bit as much fun as they do. I have been told this neighbor was a successful college football player and I know he does some coaching in the local middle school.
So here he is doing exactly what a good father should, using his skills to benefit his son and all of the other boys in this part of town. Our whole neighborhood is proud of this special young man and grateful for his restoring some of the values that often seem to be slipping away.
I want to tell you, too, of another young man of whom many of you may have heard. His name is Mike Singletary, the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. He was born in Houston to a black minister and his wife, the youngest of their ten children.
From birth, he was afflicted with a rare disease that kept him a near invalid for years. When he did improve, his pious father would not allow him to participate in much activity. In addition to health issues the dad also objected to what he considered the violence of contact sports. When young Mike was ten, his "pious" parent took off with another woman, abandoning his wife and family.
The one bright aspect of this dismal situation, perhaps in reaction to it, the youngster started playing football, using all of his determination and strength to improve his skills from day to day. Young Singletary went on to graduate from a stellar high school program and was offered a scholarship at Baylor University where he led the Bears to their greatest heights. From there he reached legendary status with the Chicago Bears.
Now, in his first professional head-coaching position, it is revealing to watch Coach Singletary. His attitude toward his players is a pleasure to see. A smile, an arm around a shoulder, a pat on the back and apparent words of encouragement were evident throughout an entire recently televised game. In other words, he seems to be taking all of the misfortunes and deprivations of his childhood, reversing them and using their exact opposites to successfully motivate the team. All that his father failed to give him, he is giving to these young athletes. What an example of turning bad into good!
I am so pleased to be able to brighten your day with two such up-beat stories. Enjoy!