In a reflection for Waypoint, I mentioned a process I had learned where you spend time looking over the past and recall specific memories and experiences that have shaped your life (for good or for bad). They could very minor incidents, such as this one below, or major life changes, like when I was diagnosed with cancer. But God uses these moments in our life to instill values and set the path we will trod.
So, in Al Bundy fashion, I will recall my “glorious” high school football days. Now mind you, at age 8 I was handed a football and told to play center. So for the next 13 years of my life no matter how grossly undersized I was, I played offensive line.
Our senior year of high school, I finally broke through 3rd string to starter, and our team was ranked 3rd in state in the preseason. Our offensive line was like a wedge with two 250+ tackles, two 220+ guards, and me stretching to break 200. Needless to say we ran a lot of traps and toss sweeps.
However, that year our highly regarded team imploded. Desperately searching some catalyst to revitalize the team and squeeze our way into the playoffs (which we hadn’t missed in 10+ years), my line coach called me into his office. He looked at me said that they were going to bench me and move one of my close friends to center.
I tried to stoically take the slap, grit my teeth and simply replied “yes, Sir.”
That Friday night we played a team we beat 72-0 the year before. While they had me play defense, I still paced the sidelines fuming as our offense could not get the ball moving. By halftime, it was still 0-0. It was then that my coach slotted me back into center (and having me play both ways).
The game progressed…uglily. But we were up 3-0, when their offense drove in the final quarter. With 15 seconds left, two yards from the end zone, I lined up on the nose and popped the center disrupting the QB’s throw causing our CB to knock it down and win the game.
WAY too much detail right? And probably glorified memories (especially if you are a teammate reading this and not recalling any of this–keep the facts to yourself). But it actually was not the game that was a defining moment of my life. It was what happened during film review that Sunday afternoon.
The coach laid into our team…rightfully so. Our season was unraveling. And as he chewed us out, he pointed past me saying, “I mean, we benched his ass this week, and he was the only one who seemed to care out there.” Then I realized he was not pointing to the player but me.
This moment taught me the power of perseverance, and that I can actually thrive in situations where I get knocked down. It taught me to embrace the discipline, grit your teeth, but to be prepared to accept a larger challenge.
Recently I heard someone describe my resume pointing to my small frame and saying I played football, and as he ended he said, “As you can see, Wes takes on more than he should.” I just smiled and said, “Yes, Sir.”