I’m excited about speaking this week to fellow members of the Appalachian Ohio P-20 Council, a regional organization dedicated to the intersection of student success, workforce needs and rural prosperity. AOP-20 is a group of remarkable people achieving remarkable success in our community and I’m proud to be one of its Champions. The event’s theme is Telling the Story of Hope and Aspirations.
This post is dedicated to the aspirations of AOP-20.
I aspire to work hard!
And when I work hard, my dreams have always followed!
The beginning of basketball season always gets me a little nostalgic. I remember my first basketball and the rim my dad put up in the backyard. How interested I was in sports in general, but how my extra time was spent shooting and dribbling the basketball.
The pro game was not as big in those days, but the Harlem Globetrotters were amazing – Meadowlark Lemon, the Clown Prince of Basketball, and Marques Haynes, the Ballhandling Wizard, who did things that were unbelievable. And yet, today most 7th grade tryouts can dribble behind their back and between their legs.
Times have changed or have they really? My junior high coach taught us the right hand layup and left hand layup. He emphasized using the bankboard (today’s word is backboard) and to concentrate on each shot. Today most 7th graders have been to camps and learned the basic fundamentals of shooting, passing and dribbling.
I aspire while delivering newspapers
The player who goes home and practices after practice ends, who gets up early and shoots before school starts, still gains the edge. Unrequired practice, long hours and purposeful preparation can take your natural skill level and make it great.
I remember the days of my paper route in Marysville, Ohio during 6th and 7th grade. I delivered to the uppity end of town: Mr. Scott owned the Scott Seed Company; Mr. Mills was a vice president and Mr. Williams was the president. The houses seemed so big and seeing them brought my little dream, my aspiration to play high school basketball and maybe even college ball!
Wait! Oh no. Not college. That was too big an aspiration for me to dream.
After I delivered papers I would stop and shoot baskets at Mr. Williams’ house every night. One evening as I finished my paper route I saw a friend who was a senior shooting on his garage. I stopped to talk to him. He was upset because he had just been cut from the team. I felt bad but told him my dream of playing for the Monarchs. He laughed at me and said, “You have no chance.” I didn’t understand because I had been working hard to make the team. He went on, “You are from the wrong end of town. You have to have parents that are important. You have no chance.”
I was devastated and turned to leave when he said, “Do you want to play a game of HORSE?”
“Sure!” I happily accepted the challenge.
We played three games. I won all three and skunked him HORSE to nothing the last game.
It suddenly became clear to me. My aspirations, my hopes, my dreams were alive. My friend got cut from the team because he wasn’t any good. He hadn’t paid the price.
I picked up the bag that held my newspapers, slung it over my shoulder, smiled and thought, “They can’t cut me. They can’t cut me.”
I aspire because this will always be true
Aspire, and list your aspirations.
Dream your dreams.
Work your butt off.
They won’t be able to cut you.
Photo: © itim2101 Fotolia