Don’t Be Flaky

Recently, my alma mater, The Baylor School, announced the retirement of the Headmaster, Scott Wilson. Scott was the Admissions Director when I entered Baylor, as a freshman. He is a great man and was a great Headmaster for Baylor for 12 years. I wish Scott all the best in his retirement.

Simultaneously, Baylor announced that Scott would be replaced by another familiar face, Chris Angel. As Scott was a graduate of Baylor, Chris was also part of the class of 1989. I was a member of the class of 1992, so Chris and I were there together, at Baylor, for a brief period. We weren’t buddies, but I remember Chris and the great running back he was. I also remember him being admired by many. I respected him…. still do.

As is the case with many of my posts, this chain of recent events triggered some personal feelings and reflections of my time at Baylor and brought to light some revelations as an adult. Albeit, in a very round-about way.

As an eighth-grader, having already been accepted into Baylor, I was convinced by one of my best friends to join the football team. I attended summer football camp and began playing games on the freshman team. I was a running back and defensive back. I was pretty good. I had one touchdown. I have no idea what my stats were, but I like to think I issued more punishment than I endured.

My sophomore year, I became a member of the varsity team, but did not start. I played in some junior varsity games. It was fairly uneventful. I recall one game when I was injured… an oddly dislocated shoulder that plagues me to this day. I’ve had that shoulder operated on twice and am probably due for one more.

That sophomore year, I began to have second thoughts about playing football. I also played soccer and was much better at soccer, so it made sense to focus on that. I had aspirations of becoming a professional soccer player. I did not have any idea about how difficult that truly was, but ignorance is bliss, I guess. I ended up quitting the football team. A decision I would later come to regret.

I was also a cheerleader and was pretty good at that too. I cheered on the varsity team all four years of high school and two years in college. As such, I still got to come to the football games and be down in the action… sort of, so no big deal.

Flash forward to the end of my junior year and I noticed the team was getting better. Having already felt some regret for quitting, I thought I might like to make some sort of contribution to that promising team as a senior, so I asked for a meeting with Coach Hubbs. He granted me the meeting, where I asked to rejoin the team. The meeting was short and Coach Hubbs told me no. My heart sunk. For whatever reason, I thought he would say yes. I was a good athlete and it simply never occurred to me I would be denied. Such is the life of someone who grew up never wanting or being denied much of anything. I was an idiot then and, unfortunately, remained one for some time.

My senior year was the first year in a long time that we beat both Red Bank and McCallie. It was a great year. I was still a cheerleader, I was still a soccer player and I still had a great senior year. I have so many great memories from high school.

Years later, as my youngest son started playing football in middle school, the lesson Coach Hubbs taught me started to sink in. Very sad that it took over two decades. Simply, Coach Hubbs was wanting people on his team upon whom he could rely. At the time, I was not that person. I was flaky. He saw that and didn’t want that flakiness to be on his team.

As that lesson started to sink in, I recall having a conversation with my youngest about him wanting to quit the team. In short, we wouldn’t let him. He had made a commitment to that team and he was going to fulfill that commitment. You give someone your word they can rely on you and you follow through on that word. End of story.

I have thought about writing about it for some time, but couldn’t figure out how until thoughts started swirling about Mr. Wilson’s retirement. That kind of brought it together. Oddly, Coach Hubbs and I never interacted much during high school. He was a middle school teacher and I didn’t go to Baylor in middle school. He was the varsity football coach and my activities as a varsity football player were limited, to say the least. All that being said, he saw an opportunity… maybe on purpose, maybe not… to teach me something. Although it took years, it finally sunk in.

I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Coach Hubbs for teaching that lesson. This is the great thing about teachers and coaches. Some are good enough to teach something without even knowing.

Coach Hubbs, thank you for that lesson. My parents tried to teach it, but as I said, I was an idiot back then. Because you and they taught me that lesson, I passed it onto my kids. It may sound simple, but I think it just goes to show how one small act in a single person’s life can have a positive effect on generations to come.

Thank you, Coach Hubbs, for driving home the lesson my parents started. I’m sorry for being flaky.

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