5th and 6th Grade Sport of Happiness

It's special when you can "catch" a moment like this - virtue in action. Your players ARE listening and watching. Keep it up coaches, we need you!

God bless, Lou
February 5, 2011 - Character Building Clinic

5th and 6th Grade Sport of Happiness

By Brett Richard
Executive Director
Cypress Heights Academy
Baton Rouge, LA

Some times you teach, coach, remind, hope ... and you don't see the fruits, you don't hear the fruits, you wonder ...

Then there are other days that you will never forget. Days that choke you up just remembering them. I had a day like that recently ...

Even though this was only our 2nd year playing contact football, our 5th and 6th grade football team truly made us proud this year on so many different levels. But there was that one day ...

They played against a team with old, mismatched uniforms. It is an "inner city" team made up of players mostly with no resources or much family life. Their coaches are extremely kind and generous men who do everything they can for them which usually means driving around town to pick up every single player to make sure he gets to practices and games. Keeping them involved in sports is one of few positive experiences in their lives.

After the game, our players - 11 and 12 year old boys - (and coaches) recognized the need and wanted to do something to help that team, "We have really nice uniforms. We're blessed. They need help. Can we do a car wash and raise the money to buy them new uniforms?" Such a faithful team...

Happily agreeing to the request, they tell me even though they haven't raised a penny yet, they were ordering the new uniforms to ensure the other team could shine by their next game.

Speechless, I pondered... "Man, if only I could have had such a team experience and supportive coaches growing up - thinking of something like this at the age of 11 or 12... Amazing!"

So in less than a week our team organizes a car wash, gets our head coach on a radio program to promote the car wash ... They invite the opposing team to come "have fun and wash some cars with us" ... There they were, 2 teams having a blast together, washing cars, high fives, making a memory.

Before the car wash even happened, a man whom I had never met before walked into my office and handed me a check for $500. "Growing up in several foster homes I never had much of a family life. One of the only positive memories I have is sports. I want to help." Many others did the same.

The goal was to reach $1,000. We raised over $2,200.

We met the players and coaches from the other team that Saturday morning to joyfully deliver their new uniforms for their game. What a moment! All I could do was look at the faces of our 5th and 6th grade football players ecstatic that they had truly helped someone - and of course, the joy of the receiving team. That is a moment where you say, "This is why I do what I do!"

But it doesn't end there.

A few days later, a coach from the other team comes back with a really nice basket of goodies. "We just wanted to do something to say thank you. It isn't much but hopefully it can show our appreciation for what you all have done for our team.  And, oh, by the way, this made such an impact on our players that they asked us if they could raise money to help another team in need. They saw the look in your guys' eyes. They had never seen happiness and genuineness like that before. Thank you."

A few weeks later our team won the league championship Super Bowl. As I was walking over to the league director to thank him for the season, he said to me, "I've never given a trophy to a more deserving team before in my life. They are a great football team - not just in talent but in spirit too.  They are a quality football team! But man, they are young men. I'm proud that they are a part of our league."

Needless to say I couldn't say much more after that.