Seems hard to believe that twenty-eight years ago this month I married my high school sweetheart. We first spoke to one another at the airport softball fields in Ware County near the end of my tenth grade year. I guess it should have been a sign that our life would be full of sporting events and ball fields since our relationship began on a set of bleachers! I knew I liked him from the moment I spoke to him. He was such a cute guy with those fly-back bangs and that shy, sweet smile. I had no idea then that he would turn out to be such a kind husband and a loving dad for my boys. Even though his bangs have since turned loose, I have continued to hold on over the years, and I am so thankful for the man he is today.
We all love Dave so much, but my boys would admit that their dad is not perfect. Raising two hard-headed kids like ours, he’s lost his temper a fair share of times. However, there is one thing Holt and Hunter Rowland will tell you about him, ” Daddy always tells us that he loves us.” Even though he is one tough guy, raised deep in the south, he has a heart full of generosity and love…especially for his two sons.
When they were little, the boys would mimic whatever they saw their daddy doing. Dave quickly realized this and began making changes in his life so he could be the best example for them. He knew that anything he said or did, Holt and Hunter would want to copy and repeat. Because of his love for our children, and more importantly his love for Jesus, Dave has always been a good role model for our boys to watch for guidance. Not only has he modeled real faith for the boys, but over the years, throughout the circumstances in our lives, I have seen Dave’s dependence on God increase in a way that encourages me.
It has not been an easy road, and some days are harder than others, but Dave chooses to trust God every time. I don’t know about you, but I need to see more of that in real life. Sometimes choosing God is the unpopular choice, but it is always the very best one we can make to have more of what God desires in our lives. Choosing His way rather than our own is opposite from the way the world operates these days. When I think about how blessed my boys have been to have a dad who loves God, it makes me so very thankful for his positive influence in shaping their lives.
So many boys these days do not have a male role model in their lives. Too many dads are often absent or just plain “missing in action,” never taking part in their children’s lives. Little boys are going to look somewhere for an example to follow and many do not look very far. In most small communities like ours, the greatest influence on a young boy’s life comes from our coaches. I believe the community recreation coaches and those in our school system have the largest impact on shaping the young boys in our area into the adult men that they will become in the future.
Big responsibility? You better believe it. Consider the fact that less than five percent of athletes from most high schools will move on to play sports at the next level, but Lord willing, one hundred percent of them will become citizens, employees, husbands, and fathers someday. For most people those common titles in life are a given. No, most athletes will never become the next Lebron James, Chipper Jones, or Payton Manning, but two things are certain. These young athletes will have to earn a living, and they will someday all face death. The very best things our coaches can do for young boys is to teach them the benefits derived from a good work ethic and make sure that they know Jesus better than they know all the secret plays. God will surely honor any coach who honors Him through the role they have been given.
My boys have played sports under dozens of coaches. They have seen and sadly heard a lot throughout the years. I know when moms start talking about coaching methods, they get more rolled eyes than respect from most people. As a mom who loves her boys as much as every mama does, I pray for coaches in our world today to realize their importance.
It’s not that I need you to be a role model for my kids; they are blessed to have a great dad as their example. Rather, I beg you to be a role model for the boys who do not, nor will they ever, have that kind of father. Be the example for young boys who think that being a “real man” is being just like you. Be a man who teaches that winning is not the most important thing. Be a person who admits that life is not all about the sport you coach but something far more important. Be the guy who thinks about his actions and language because he knows a whole dugout or sideline full of kids will mimic everything said and done by him and his coaching staff.
Get real with God and yourself. Show these young men what “real faith” looks like as you deal with the circumstances in life. Help kids deal with hurt and disappointment by teaching them where to run for lasting peace. Let them see you treating every player equal. Care more about the players than the program. Teach that “real strength” only comes through loving Jesus. By coaching this way, you will leave a legacy, not by bringing home a championship trophy, but by building Godly leaders for the future households in our community and our world.
Please realize that your influence, when solely directed by God’s power, is capable of doing so much more than winning ballgames. God has given you an opportunity that few people get so make a choice that counts: Choose God. It may not be popular, but it is the only way to ensure that you and your team really win.
A mom who knows that you are so much more than just a coach.