I suppose a boy your age often wonders how he stacks up in the eyes of his dad. If my eyes have not already told you, perhaps I can express my feelings in this letter at the expense of some considerable over-emotion and sentimentalism.
How can I adequately express the feeling of pride I have for you not only as an athlete in uniform but as an individual out of it - the pride that is built up over a period of years in your dedication to athletics?
You’ve outgrown me by more than a couple of inches now, but it seems like yesterday that you sat on my lap watching the games on TV. I explained the games to you then - now you explain them to me. Through the years I kept my eye on you. I’ve watched you develop, grow, and participate, and I’ve noticed many things……
I watched you devote your life to rigid training and clean living. I have seen you develop into a boy with spirit, confidence, and a will to win. Yet, along with this grew modesty, humility, and respect for the other guy along with a compassion for the fellow players.
I’ve seen you cry and suffer silently in defeat and exalt in victory. There was no need to look at me in embarrassment when you thought you did not perform well, but I knew you always did the best you could.
And yet, there were the many times your play was outstanding – the second effort for the touchdown pass to win the game, that final “kill” in a Volleyball match. At times, I cried too – but with tears of pride.
I’ve seen you get a few knocks, actually bone separations, sprains, concussions, and at times helped you off the field. And I’ve seen signs of pain on your face. I felt that pain too, my son. We used a lot ice and many visits to good old Dr G, also lots of tender loving care nursing your aches and pains.
I’ve swelled with pride when the crowd gave you an ovation in appreciation of your efforts and performance. And how proud I was to be your father after a coach’s comment…” You have a great son, and I’m proud to be his coach”.
Then the compliments from different walks of life – our dentist Dr. Joe with questions about next week’s game and my trainer Anthony inquiring about your health. I’ve seen your brother and sisters boast about you.
You’ve earned these compliments, Son, not only with your fine efforts, but with your sportsmanship. I’ve seen you place yourself in the doorway of the opposing players’ locker room to shake their hands – in victory or Defeat – and I’ve heard you pass a few kind words to your opponents’ coach. Never once have I seen you deliberately try to hurt an opponent or take advantage of an unfair situation. With all of this, you have earned the respect of coaches, and opposing players.
Your concern and compassion for your teammates also show. What a heartwarming scene -- on the side lines of a field, your arm around a sobbing teammate who had just missed a crucial play in a “Friday night lights” game.
I’ve never seen you grandstand. Yet, I’ve seen your outstanding teamwork and sacrifice on your part that has helped your team to victory.
I’ve learned from you Son – about courage, loyalty, and fair play – and I admire your optimism and your philosophy of life. All in all, you’ve made my life richer and more meaningful. For this I thank you.
I’m also grateful for the many rich shared experiences, the thrills and memories and the feeling of pride when you’re standing by my side, grateful for the absence of the phone calls from the police station or the hospital.
You may have a couple of separated bones, and a few bumps and bruised for souvenirs, Son, but you also have a collection of newspaper clipping, trophies along with your established character to remind us that all of this was not in vain.
It isn’t that important whether you make First Team All Conference or MVP. The point is that up to now you’ve played well and lived well – a step toward desirable and successful manhood. To say I’m proud of you, Son is putting it mildly!!!!