A Thanks Long Overdue

Tomorrow is a big day in my life. My first published book will arrive in the mail and within the next couple of weeks, “A Glory Denied: The Story of the 1967 Owensboro High School Football Team” will be available for purchase. One of the two hardback copies that will arrive tomorrow will be mine to keep. The other will soon make its way to a very special man who has meant so much to Owensboro High School football, the “Coach”, Gerald Poynter.

One day during the fall of 1967 when I was eight years old, my dad and I walked from our house on 22nd Street to Rash Stadium to practice for an upcoming Punt, Pass and Kick competition.  The football I was practicing with had been thrown, kicked and punted so many times in our street that the laces had busted and the inner tube was protruding through the opening to the point it looked pregnant.  I abused the footballs my parents bought for me and my dad told me not to throw or kick it in the street.  I didn’t listen.  I would not be allowed another football until Christmas.  I’m certain that the football players leaving the field that day after practice had a good laugh seeing my pregnant football.  That’s when Gerald Poynter did something I will never forget. 

If my memory serves me correctly, Coach Poynter came over to where I was practicing and gave me a few words of encouragement and noticed my bizarre looking football.  He then walked into the OHS locker room and returned with a ball that they used for practice. It was not new, but in good shape and he walked over and gave it to me.  It was the greatest gift I had ever received. 

Over the years I have wanted to thank him for his kindness but never really had the chance.  In the next few days, I will present Coach Poynter with a signed, hardcover, copy of the book about those ’67 Red Devils he coached and I will tell him thanks for that football he gave me fifty years ago.

Those ’67 Red Devils were special and I am excited for people to read why. Their story is unlike any in Owensboro High School sports history and after fifty years I wanted them to get the recognition they deserve. 

I also want to use the book as a way to say thanks for the kindness shown to me by their head coach. 

It will be a thanks long overdue.

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Noah and the Fat Girl

Some biblical scholars have concluded that Noah may have worked on building the ark for as many as 150 years. Can you imagine? Every day, waking up, grabbing the same hammer and pegs and going about driving them into the side of that vessel – for 150 years – waiting for the rain, and not seeing a cloud in the sky. 

It is a testimony of a man’s faith, resolve, perhaps even stubbornness, not to quit.  I have to wonder what the early days of that project must have been like for Noah. The enormous size of the task must have been almost overwhelming. Did he ever throw down his tools in frustration? Did the animals drive him nuts? Did he ever want to quit? My hunch is yes to all those questions. I know I would have.

The great struggle of our culture is the inability to wait, to persevere, to accept our reward is far into the future and never tire of straining toward it.  We want what we want now – a fastpass to our dreams. There are very few Noahs in our world today. I am certainly not one.

While sitting each morning here at the resort where we are staying for our vacation, I have watched a young lady jogging the perimeter walkway.  She appears to be in her twenties and her jogging pace tells me she just started running in the past few days. Overweight and heavy-legged, she struggles to complete one full circle.  I have watched her face twist in a painful grimace as she struggles to complete her second lap. By lap three she is walking and struggling to breathe.  She has a long way to go.  But, every morning this week she has been out here – running, trying, hurting. I think about how each morning she rises from her bed, slips on her jogging atire, and quietly makes her way to the jogging path knowing how painful the experience will be.  Yet, I see her everyday.  Other more capable runners fly around her with little effort, lapping her and I wonder if she is discouraged seeing “Miss Fit-body” in the bright spandex flexing past. But, for some reason, she keeps going. God bless her! 

There is a dream way out in the future for this chubby girl who runs here every morning. She wants something and seems determined to get it. I hope she does.  I hope she keeps running when she gets home and never gives up. For some strange reason I want that for her, someone I don’t even know. 

But, maybe I do know her. Maybe she is me. I see her struggles and I see my own. I know what it feels like to get lapped by people. I know how hard it is to keep going when the pain is overwhelming. I know what it is like to fail. And that is why I want her to keep running – to keep driving the pegs into those holes until God delivers His promise – whenever that will be. Please, chubby girl I see each morning, don’t stop!  Please don’t stop!

Your reward is waiting!

A Buffet for Chris

An amazing thing happened here at Disney World last week. I have found that small gestures of kindness are the most memorable of all and that is what we experienced.  A small thing with a big impact. Disney is really good at creating little, magic moments for its guests and that is one of the reasons we return over and over. This one, we may never forget 

We had been planning a trip to Disney World for the past year and invited a sweet family we met in Cambridge,Ohio to join us for their first vacation in almost fifteen years. We covered the cost of the room and helped them raise enough money to make the trip affordable.  They had the time of their lives. 

One of their concerns was their son, Chris, who is autistic and requires a special diet.  There was some concern that Disney might not be able to accommodate Chris and his special needs.  Those worries went away on our first night.  

The campground here at DW has one of our favorite restaurants (Trails End) and features a buffet style assortment of foods.  None of them, however, were on Chris’s limited diet.  Upon arriving, I checked us in to be seated and explained Chris’s special diet needs.  One of the staff members from the restaurant took down a list of food items that Chris liked and soon we were seated. With the exception of Chris, our group began filling our plates with mini-mounds of delicious food.  Chris waited as our waiter told us his food was being prepared.  

The list of food Chris eats includes French fries, chicken nuggets, Mac and cheese, and cheeseburgers.  It was our thought that they were cooking up one of those items for Chris, which was all we could expect.

Then one of those pixie-dust moments happened.  Carrying a full tray of various food items, our waiter placed plate after plate of Chris’s favorite foods in front of him.  Every item on his list had been prepared and we could not believe our eyes.

It then dawned on me that they had created for Chris his own buffet. Cheeseburgers, fries, macaroni, nuggets – he had it all and could ask for as much of it as he could eat.  We were without words.

Disney World is an expensive place and certainly a different kind of vacation mentality required.  But, there is not a place this side of heaven that can make magic happen with such kindness and inclusiveness. They had made Chris feel special, but more importantly, made his parents feel included.

That is magic!

Steve Mc

Eating Around the World

Lisa and I have been here at Disney World with some friends for over a week and have enjoyed our vacation immensely.  Over the next month or so, the annual”Wine and Food Festival” at Epcot is happening.  And I do mean “happening”. Last night we inched our way around the world showcase sampling various foods from around the world along with every other two legged creature in central Florida.  I am convinced there is no such thing as “downtime” at Disney World.  Either the schools are shut down this week or Florida residents are only allowed to vacation in September.  We are talking grid-lock. But, food was calling and so we joined in the fray.

The food samples are really no more than a couple of spoonfuls and seemed (relatively) inexpensive (at least to Disney World economy). Five or six bucks will allow you to sample most menu items.  Lisa and I started in Australia and worked our way through Mexico, Italy and a few other countries whose food items I could not even pronounce.  We blew through about a hundred bucks worth of samples, trying to convince ourselves the entire time what a great time we were having, sweating in lines with the other sweaty people trying to convince themselves they were having a good time sweating with us. In other words, we were miserable.  

To make matters worse, Disney workers, wearing oversized Mickey gloves, waved to us as we left the park, as if to say, “Good-bye you idiots and thanks for leaving all your money with us.  See you tomorrow!”

After inching back to our car with all the other broke, miserable cattle, we finally made it back to our condo and I fixed a bologna sandwich. I figured it cost me about .67 cents. 

Best deal of the day and I ate the whole thing.  

Tomorrow, we are going to try Chinese. There is a buffet right outside the Disney World gates. And they will let you eat all you want.

Steve Mc