|From the beginning, it was apparent to
me that your athletic career would be a good one. When you were only five-a chubby, shy,
little guy who tried hard to keep up with the other players-I began to see those
characteristics that would lead you to excellence. You never quit, and you never stopped
kicking the ball. Day in, day out: kick...kick...kick. You were far from the best player
on the field, but your love of the game kept you working.
you are becoming a young man, and you have risen to the top of your sport with many team
and individual triumphs. And I realize that we are walking this athletics road together
for the next number of years. I also realize that our walk will not be unlike the walk of
other excelling athletes and their parents as we move our children along to adulthood.
Whether the sport is football, basketball, gymnastics, soccer or whatever-it's all the
And as your father, it is my desire that through this athletic
experience you develop something so much more important than athletic prowess--and that is
Character is not difficult to define. We all know it when we see
it. The big question for us as parents is how do we develop it in our children. We know
that daily instruction is important, and we all know we must lead with example; it's the
thing we as parents do every day of our lives that help to mold you into a decent human
But there must be more to it than that, because we all know of
parents who are the very definition of goodness and character, and yet raise children who
have no clue as to the meaning of character. So we have to suffice it to say that there is
an intangible here. One that says that no matter what we do as parents, you have to make
the choices in life that ultimately will determine and define your character.
Let me tell you what I see.
I see kindness. You are the one that passes the ball to the worst
player in gym class to make sure they are included. You are the one who sets up the
poorest shooter in basketball to make sure they feel part of the team. And you are the one
in soccer who instructs, cajoles and encourages your teammates. That is character.
You are not a braggart. Your recent triumph of being selected to
the Regional Olympic Development soccer brought you a lot of publicity and recognition,
yet you played it down, and you were careful to direct attention away from yourself and
back to your teammates. You are a total team player. That is character.
|You are a gentleman on the field.
Winning or losing, you keep your language and actions clean. I have never seen you take a
"cheap shot" at another player. You have been singled out by other teams and
players to receive a good pounding to try to take you out of the game, but you always
maintain your dignity. You are the player on the team who checks the condition of an
opponent who is down with injury on the field. That is character.
You are sensitive and vigilantly aware of your teammates. That has gained
you their respect, which is something not easily obtained. But your sensitivity has also
opened you up to an aspect of athletics that has been difficult and hurtful to you. You
are learning some things and experiencing some things that I did not understand until
You are learning about jealously and egos, and you have felt the
onslaught of those who would rather attack you and tear you down that celebrate your
accomplishments with you. And I think what has been particularly hurtful for you has been
people you consider friends, both kids and adults, who have been part of that group. You
are learning at an early age that our society is becoming selfish, and we hate what we
don't have. It is a sad truth, but one you are beginning to understand and deal with.
Above it all, you have kept your head and vision clear. That is character.
You have guts. I have watched you play with blistered feet, with
bruised and battered legs, totally exhausted from the heat and effort. I can see that you
are down to your last reserves of energy, and that you would like nothing else than to
exit the game and rest. But you don't. Your team is in a battle and you won't quit. That
God gives us all special talents and abilities. You were given a
physical gift that allows you to compete at a higher level. You can do with it what you
want. You can take it as far as you want to go. But above it all, I know that through the
journey, you will always maintain your dignity and be recognized as a man of character.
Parents love their children. Your mother and I would love you no
matter what you did or how you did it. You, however, have made it easy.
I remain always,
--Reprinted from South Dakota Sports Magazine