My husband is a both a sports enthusiast and a channel flipper. As a result, the focal point of our den is a La-Z-Boy recliner. Its position in the room—the angle of the chair and its distance from the plasma screen TV—was calculated with the precision of a Swiss clockmaker. Fred will watch any game played by opposing humans, from pro wrestling to poker, but he is passionate about three sports in particular: American football (professional), basketball (collegiate), and the second great love of his life (after me), golf.
I, myself, am not athletic. I was "encouraged" to play softball, volleyball, and basketball as a child, but stunk it up in all areas. As an adult I have picked up the habit of running, but Lord knows, that, for me, is anything but a competitive activity. I am simply not wired for sports. Fred is constantly frustrated with me because I can't even sit and watch games with him. My eyeballs repel the information. It doesn't sink in. I look as if I'm watching, but my brain is far away. This saddens him.
After sixteen years of marriage to a college golf coach, however, I've come to appreciate the beauty and purpose of sports. It's heartwarming to observe comradery on a team, inspiring to hear stories of individual athletes who overcome obstacles on their way to greatness, and thrilling to watch them perform well, even under pressure. It's all about people, isn't it? People and their stories. Finally, I get it.
As a coach, my husband forms close bonds with a handful of young guys from all over the world, who spend an average of four years each on his team. Unlike their professors, from whose classes they come and go, my husband the coach spends time with his players several days a week for four solid years. They often travel together as well.
Let me tell you, Fred invests himself in these young men. He loves them with a big-burly-guy kind of love, as if the lot of them are his brood of younger brothers. He prays for them, agonizes over them, cheers for them, butts heads with them, jokes around with them, and above all, hopes the best for them. He is an excellent coach. That's what they call him, by the way. "Coach." The moniker is music to his ears.
Last fall, Coach hosts a tournament which begins with an international flag-raising ceremony. Along with the few parents and girlfriends who come out for the event, I sit and watch, shivering as each player in turn carries his home flag across an expanse of grass to the tune of his national anthem. One by one they situate their flags in a row, hoisting each up a pole until all eight flutter high above. In a moment of particular beauty, the breeze loosely wraps one young freshman's billowing flag completely around him as he is en route. Lit from behind by the sun as he walks, the form of his body shows through the silk—he doesn't look much older than my ten-year-old son, Gray. He must be eighteen, but he's still just a boy. Knowing his story and envisioning his future, I am overwhelmed. At a young age, this one was abused, neglected, and eventually abandoned by his single mother. You'd never suspect any of this by looking at him. His sunny disposition covers the damage. We have seen glimpses, though, of the wounds underneath. Here he is, because of golf, far from home—separated from his adoring grandparents by oceans and time-zones. He is now under the care of a solid Christian man, an excellent Coach, who will invest in him. He will be loved and nurtured and prayerfully coached for four years, and then, all grown up, he'll fly away, in a much better state than when he arrived. If this is not a good use of sports, I don't know what is.
The victim's faint pulse picks up; the hearts of the hopeless pump red blood as you put your ear to their lips. Orphans get parents, the homeless get homes. ~ Psalm 10:17, The Message
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~ Jeremiah 29:11, NIV
I am pleased to help my husband introduce his new website, coachofgolf.com. Love you, Fred.