This past week I was pleasantly surprised, and humbled, to open an email from a former gymnast named Bob, someone five years behind me in school and who competed the same event I was most passionate about (still rings). What I found most encouraging, and rewarding, about his email was how much an interview I recently participated in on WGN radio resonated with this former gymnast.
The discussion from the show that this father of three was listening to centered on sports and youth sports, the attitudes being displayed by some of today’s athletes (adult and youth), and how Becoming a True Champion would help make a difference in all of that.
As I read through Bob’s perspective on what I had discussed on that radio show, I could not help but be reassured that I was not the only one seeing this loss of perspective and winning at all costs trend I speak so much about. In Bob’s words:
“My wife and I have raised three sons (25, 22, 20) that played just about every sport so I’ve seen the gamut of parents, coaches and athletes go through what you describe in your book. When I heard you on WGN radio this past week, it sounded like me talking with many of my old teammates about how kids are raised these days. You are spot on with all your observations. Thank you for bringing this important topic to the front page…someone needs to help show how ridiculous and miss-guided kids sports have become. Thank you for writing your book.”
It is hard to put into words how appreciative I am that someone I have never met was willing to take the time to write me directly about Becoming a True champion, let alone thank me for it. And Bob did not stop there with his comments, as the book also resonated with him in respect to his late father who, as Bob put it, was a true champion.
Bob went on to detail (and send me) a poem his father had written regarding Bob and his teammates. Something his dad read to the team at their senior awards banquet; it was titled “Ode to a senior Gymnast.”
What a wonderful gift from a father to his son. A very moving piece for me to read, especially since Bob’s father has passed—it has deep meaning for Bob, and that he draws relationship to what is in that poem and Becoming a True Champion. I was honored that he would send it to me.
So much so that, with Bob’s approval, I would like to share that poem for all of you hoping you might gain as much from reading it as I did. There is a definite, positive message within it, enjoy!!!
Ode to a senior gymnast
Starting four years ago I became proud as punch
Of a group of little boys that all had a hunch
Now four years have passed and their hunch has paid off
Cuz when they take off their shirts, surely no one will scoff
While these physical changes have been much fun to see
It’s what happened inside that is so exciting to me
They’ve learned many lessons through hard work and strife
That actually will carry them throughout their whole life
They now know the sacrifice to make a small gain
Is sometimes disproportionate in blisters and pain
They now know that discipline is of their own making
And not the result of the coach doing the shaking
They now know that sharing their knowledge with a friend
Can create a relationship that may never end
They now know concentration, cuz when they fell on their behind
It wasn’t a lack of muscles – something wasn’t right in their mind
They now know accomplishment is not always “be best”
But when each time you get better, you’ve really passed the test
They now know disappointment and all its chagrin
And they know not to quit but to try harder again
They now know teamwork and what makes it click
And how others rely whether you are well or half sick
They now know perfection is a series of goals
And to continually reach for it, costs many tolls
So these are the “tricks: they’ve learned in the gym
And much for the credit goes to Coach Blasko and Levin
So Mothers and Fathers hold your heads high
The little boys from four years ago, is now the man passing by
By Robert C. Pole II