There are a few things I can guarantee. I know that you should never say never, and you should never guarantee unless you really can, but I’ve got this. If you are reading this newspaper column then you are a son or daughter of someone I can guarantee that.
Growing up whether you were raised by your parents, grandparents, foster parents, aunts or uncles, I am confident that you were encouraged to be involved in things throughout your life. If your influences were in sports, then it was athletics; music — join the band, choir, jazz band; writing — journalism club, year book staff, editor of your school newspaper; Academic Teams — scholastic events.
Miranda Lambert sings in her award winning song “All Kinds of Kinds,” that is it takes all kinds, and it does. I played sports growing up in elementary and high school, but my parents never encouraged my siblings or me to do so. My mother wanted us to do anything besides play football.
Being involved in activities, in a club, or on a team, teaches a lot of lessons that are valuable for life. It truly takes all kinds of kinds and each of us represents our kind. In high school when I wasn’t playing football I served as the public address announcer for my high school basketball team. Somewhere between introductions of the starting five for each team I was also calling ‘play by play’ for WANO Radio 1230AM.
My involvement in sports grew to include serving as an official with the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, and then I went on to officiating junior college basketball, NAIA basketball all the way to being a “ref” in the NCAA. In time, I went from officiating to serving as a sports chaplain, ministering to teams, sharing motivational messages and encouragements as a Christian and public speaker.
This being my season of “Thanks-Giving” I cannot help by mention the blessings of opportunities because of sports. Nate Zettler, of Hamilton, Ohio, was recently conducted into the Union College Hall of Fame. During his acceptance speech he mentions my work and ministry sharing about his struggle when he was a freshman in college and how he had become homesick and was ready to go back to Ohio. When he signed his professional baseball contract with the Kansas City Royals he called then to say thanks, reminding me of our times together.
One of his favorite stories to tell about “preacher” is when I would drive behind him in the college van playing his favorite music loudly out the windows to motivate him as he ran. (If only we had MP players back then) Serving others I have discovered really makes a difference. It maybe years that pass before you know the impact but we should never discredit the effort of helping others.
Banford Keith Hill played baseball at Campbellsville University. A friendship that began because of sports when I would umpire his college baseball games. Our friendship includes witnessing him graduate from the Lexington Metro Police Department, to the opportunity of serving as his wedding officiant for him and wife Nancy, to now the celebration of the birth of their son James Banford. Who would have imagined? I didn’t but I am grateful for each year we’ve shared together.
So many friendships, too many to mention, but this year Nate represents Union College and Keith represents Campbellsville University. Hundreds of “Thanks-Givings” made through sports and each year until I type no more I will honor these unique friendships that have become so valuable and cherished. The opportunities we each have are special, each in their own kind of way. It takes all kinds of kinds and I am thankful this year to acknowledge the difference Nate, Keith and their families have made in my life. “Thanks-Giving.”
Contact Tim H. Mills at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @THMills.