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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
July 8, 2015

One afternoon I had the chance to meet a couple of friends on the course for a quick nine. We were paired together for a scramble at our church the next weekend and we admittedly needed the practice.

As I was driving to meet them, I started reflecting on my marriage. After seven years, we had become too predictable. No itches mind you, but more than enough rashes and hives from the children.

With the kids, the mortgage, the bills and, of course, the job to pay for all of the above, we had landed in a sand trap.

In college, it seemed like everything enjoyable in life centered around our time together. People always said that we were the ones who lit the fires, but lately it seemed like we had forgotten the matches.

Golf was an escape for us. I’d chase that stupid white ball around a deep green golf course and would never get any better.

My wife drove the electric golf cart, always wearing a shorts-and-tank-top set, dark sunglasses, and a white golf visor. For ten yards in either direction, you could smell the unmistakable scent of cocoa butter. The only reason she went was to get a suntan.

If the truth were known, the only reason I went was to watch her.

One afternoon, she studied my golf swing more intently than ever before. Finally, on the seventeenth hole, she came out with her notion.

“Let me try to hit one.”

At first, I thought it was a novel idea. Then I changed my mind. Golf was a man’s sport, or so I thought. “You? You can’t hit a golf ball. You’re a girl.”

“Thanks for noticing. Just the same, I think I can lose golf balls as well as you can.”

A very true observation.

I handed over my 3-wood and dug the tee into the hard clay at the tee box. Without even a practice swing, she promptly knocked the ball straight down the middle of the fairway.

When we got to our balls, her drive was five yards further than mine. From that day on, she started playing golf.

Some of the best times we shared early in our marriage were on the golf course. We’d go in the mid-morning before the temperature would climb.

The time we spent together laughing and teasing under the sun cemented our relationship. As I pulled into the parking lot outside the clubhouse, I realized how much I missed seeing her on a golf course.

All the guys at church looked forward to playing our annual tournament. Mike and Danny, a couple of fellow church members, were going to play on my team along with a mystery partner.

Hopefully someone who could drive and putt, our collective shortcomings.

Every team invited someone outside our church to play. Sort of a community involvement thing.

What I always found amazing was how all these strangers could hit the cover off the ball and always straight down the middle!

Let’s face it, there are more ringers in a church golf tournament than in the children’s bell choir.

When I got to the practice green, I saw Danny and his wife, Beth, pulling out Danny’s clubs. A second golf bag was resting on the side.

“Whose clubs are those, Danny?” I asked, expecting him to say that next week’s mystery golfer was already inside the clubhouse, paying for our tickets.

“Why, they’re mine,” said Beth as she threw them across her shoulder.

“Yeah, she’s my secret weapon today. She tees off from the women’s tee box, you know. With her drives, we are guaranteed at least a good one.”

I snickered at the thought of a woman playing golf… then I caught a whiff of cocoa butter.

The three of us spent the afternoon chasing balls, hitting horrible iron shots and missing almost every putt.

Danny and Beth didn’t care. They enjoyed playing golf together in a way that I suddenly recalled.

It’s not the winning but the losing together that matters most.

As we were starting to leave, the conversation came to the tournament. Danny asked, “Well, do you think you can find a fourth player by Saturday?”

“Yeah. Playing this afternoon reminded me of the perfect partner.”

I came home to find my wife in the kitchen. She smiled and asked, “Did you play well?”

“Nope. Just as hopeless as usual.”

“How did the others play?”

“Hopeless as well. We need a fourth player for the tournament and I think I found one.”

She looked up at me with those bright eyes and asked, “Really, who?”

“You.”

Surprise grew across her face. “Me? I haven’t played golf in years. I can’t help you win.”

“Can’t help us lose either. But it sure would be nice to see you out there again.”

That next Saturday, the four of us played golf on perhaps the most beautiful spring day that I can recall.

We laughed and teased all over the course as shot after shot missed the mark.

On the last hole, we finished with a score of 79, seven shots above par, buried deep in last place.

Afterward, the awards were handed out and we got the prize for having the roughest day, a kind way to say we lost.

Each of us received a sleeve of shiny pink golf balls for our hard day’s work.

On the way back to our table, I put my arm around my wife’s waist and whispered to all four of us, “These guys just haven’t figured out who really won…”

Harrison Kelly
Chicken Soup for the Soul: [Tales of Golf and Sport]
http://www.chickensoup.com/  Changing Lives One Story At A Time 
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
January 29, 2010

Opening Day of the East Marietta Little League season, I sat in the bleachers overlooking the Sewell Mill Park ball field. I was excited as I anticipated something very special.

Every spring in Marietta, Georgia, the Little Leaguers dress in their uniforms, gloves and ball caps, pile in pickup trucks and parade down the main strip to the field for opening ceremony.

Today was extra special; it was the twentieth anniversary of the 1983 Little League World Series, when the team from Marietta won it all.

My ten year old, John sat on his glove in the field next to his teammates, waiting for the men at the podium to speak. Eleven of the fourteen players on that historic team were there including one who’d gone on to pitch for the Chiago Cubs.

But really everything that morning seemed to revolve around the man in the middle, the skipper for that team and many others during his thirty-eight years coaching Little League; the man my son called his favorite coach, Richard Hilton.

“What was it that made him stand out from all the other coaches?” I wondered. “He looks like Santa, just not as big.” I overheard one of the younger kids say, I laughed. Coach Hilton certainly drew those comparisons with his white hair, white beard and rosy smiling face.

I’d first met Coach Hilton the year before, when John played on his ball team. Everyone had rave reviews. “Did you know he turned down a promotion at work so he could still coach the kids?” another parent asked me. That didn’t surprise me once I saw how good he was with John.

The first team Coach Hilton ever managed was his son’s team and now 38 years later, he still treats his players like family.

My son really wanted to play second base, but since he wasn’t a strong fielder, other coaches had him stuck in right field. When Coach Hilton got John, he put him on second and began to develop the skills in John necessary to play second.

The Coach gave John extra fielding practice to help him become more at ease and flexible in a variety of circumstances. I got used to waiting 15 minutes after practice, watching my son field grounders or take a few last swings in the batting cage.

Coach Hilton cared about the boys off field as much as he did on field. One afternoon last fall, I found John at the table doing his homework before practice-without nagging from me. I must have looked startled because John said, “Coach says we should get our homework done before we play ball.”

It was far more than winning with Coach Hilton. Character and attitude were very important to him. He encouraged the kids continually to find better ways to say and express how they were feeling.

But it didn’t seem to me that it was those things alone that set Coach Hilton apart. There was more, I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Everyone had the same love and respect for him that the kids had. What was that special something that was so hard to define?

The ceremony started. One by one, the former players shared stories from that magical season twenty years ago. Back then, the boys had to win fourteen games in a row to take home the Little League World Series Title. [Today, a round robin tournament means a team can lose and still advance if they win all their other games.]

What really amazed me is how successful each of those players twenty years ago, went on to be. They had become presidents of companies, managers, police officers, doctors, teachers and one went on to play Pro Baseball.

Each one in turn, credited their coach as a role model and mentor. The pitcher for the Cubs? He had come back to Marietta and inspired by Coach Hilton, signed up to coach one of the Little League teams, himself. The Coach had passed the baton and a new story is in the making.

I saw my son John sitting on the field, listening closely and enthralled by what he heard. The Ceremony ended and John and I, headed home to relax before returning for practice in a few hours. “I think I want to coach someday,” John told me as we walked to the car. Was that what made a truly great coach? Someone who inspires others to follow in their path?

John couldn’t stop talking about all the former players until it was almost time to drive back to the field. He went to get his things. Why was he taking so long? “We’re going to be late!” I said, as I was walking down the hall to his room. John was rifling through his closet. He looked up at me, clearly upset. “My glove,” he said, “I can’t find it.” We searched the whole house to no avail.

“Maybe you left your glove at the field,” I said, “We’ll look for it there.” John got into the car, but he wasn’t a happy camper. Neither was I. “No way that glove is still there all these hours later…” I thought. First day of practice and no glove; a sad way to start the season.

We pulled into the parking lot. I was surprised to see Coach Hilton’s red and white truck. What was he doing here? I waved at him. “I thought you would be out celebrating,” I told him.

“Well, I was going to,” he said. “But I couldn’t let one of my Little Leaguers practice without this.” He pulled a worn leather glove from his truck, John’s glove. “I found it on the field.”

There, I had it-the answer to my question. What makes a great Coach or a great person? Putting other people first, leading with love and encouragement. In Little League or in life, it’s those little extras- putting focus on another’s life, looking for ways to lift up, encourage or help another on their journey. That’s the difference between a good coach and a great coach. Great coaches are more than just coaches; they are great leaders. They lead by example.

“Thank you, Coach!” John said, as he bounded off toward the field. I couldn’t tell who was happier-John or his favorite Coach.

A Coach for the Ages by JoEllen Langmack [Marietta, Georgia]
From Guideposts
http://www.guideposts.com/
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
June 24, 2015

We live in a world where Sports Figures make way too much money and have way too little character. Sports Role Models are getting extremely hard to come by.

We watched a Megabuck football player walk off the Super Bowl field without shaking anybody’s hand. We watched a top golfer leave the Masters without a word of thanks to the fans or congratulations to the winner. We watched a[n] NFL lineman kick a man’s helmetless head without a thought.

It seems Sports is becoming- win at any cost, humiliate your opponent and self-pride rules. Love, compassion and respect of fellow man are being devalued by High Profile Sports Figures at an increasingly rapid pace.

So if you think sportsmanship is toast, this next story is an all-you-can-eat buffet to a starving man.

It happened at a junior varsity girls’ softball game in Indianapolis this spring. After an inning and a half, Roncalli was womanhandling the inner-city Marshall team. Marshall pitchers had already walked nine Roncalli batters. The game could’ve been 50-0 with no problem.

It’s no wonder. This was the first softball game in Marshall history. A middle school trying to move up to include grades 6 through 12, Marshall showed up to the game with five balls, two bats, no helmets, no sliding pads, no cleats, 16 players who’d never played before and a coach who’d never even seen a game.

One Marshall player asked, “Which one is first base?” Another: “How do I hold this bat?” They didn’t know where to stand in the batter’s box. Their coaches had to be shown where the first- and third-base coaching boxes were.

That’s when Roncalli did something crazy. It offered to forfeit.

Yes, a team that hadn’t lost a game in 2½ years, a team that was going to win in a landslide purposely offered to declare defeat. Why? Because Roncalli wanted to spend the two hours teaching the Marshall girls how to get better, not how to get humiliated.

“The Marshall players did not want to quit,” wrote Roncalli JV coach Jeff Traylor, in recalling the incident. “They were willing to lose 100 to 0 if it meant they finished their first game.”

But the Marshall players finally decided if Roncalli was willing to forfeit for them, they should do it for themselves. They decided that maybe — this one time — losing was actually winning.

That’s about when the weirdest scene broke out all over the field: Roncalli girls teaching Marshall girls the right batting stance, throwing them soft-toss in the outfield, teaching them how to play catch. They showed them how to put on catching gear, how to pitch and how to run the bases. Even the umps stuck around to watch.

“One at a time the Marshall girls would come in to hit off of the [Roncalli] pitchers,” Traylor recalled. “As they hit the ball their faces LIT UP! They were high fiving and hugging the girls from Roncalli, thanking them for teaching them how to play the game.”

This is the kind of thing that can backfire with teenagers — the rich kids taking pity on the inner-city kids kind of thing. Traylor was afraid of it, too.

“One wrong attitude, one babying approach from our players would shut down the Marshall team, who already were down,” wrote Traylor. “But our girls made me as proud as I have ever been. … [By the end], you could tell they all were having a blast. The change from the beginning of the game to the end of the practice was amazing.”

Roncalli High School’s girls’ softball team demonstrated true compassion and caring to the newly formed Marshall High team. But Roncalli wasn’t done.

Coach Traylor asked all the parents of his players and anybody else he knew for more help for Marshall — money for bats, gloves, helmets, cleats, sliders, socks and team shirts.

Roncalli came up with $2,500 and worked with Marshall on the best way to help the team and their program with that money. Roncalli also connected Marshall with former Bishop Chatard coach- Kim Wright, who will advise the program.

“We probably got to some things 10 years quicker than we would have had without Roncalli,” says Marshall principal Michael Sullivan.

And that was just the appetizer.

A rep from Reebok called Sullivan and said, “What do you need? We’ll get it for you.” A man who owns an indoor batting cage facility has offered free time in the winter. The Cincinnati Reds are donating good dirt for the new field Marshall will play on.

“This could’ve been a thing where our kids had too much pride,” says Sullivan. “You know, ‘I’m not going to listen to anybody.’ But our girls are really thirsty to learn and are so appreciative to the Roncalli girls, the Roncalli Coach and the Roncalli School in general.

They are grateful for all the corporations and people who came alongside and helped them get their program off the ground.”

And they are better. Marshall has not yet won a game, but actually had leads in its last three games. In fact, it went so well, the players and their parents asked if they could extend the season, so they’re looking to play AAU summer softball.

Just a thought: Major League Baseball is pulling hamstrings trying to figure out how to bring baseball back to the inner city. Maybe it should put the Roncalli and Marshall girls in charge?

Anyway, it’s not an important story, just one that squirts apple juice right in your face. It leaves you with a very good taste in your mouth.

And who knows? Maybe someday, Marshall will be beating Roncalli in the final inning, realize how far it has come and forfeit again, just as a thank you.

Rick Reilly [Opening partially rewritten]
http://espn.go.com/
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
May 14, 2002

Last week, Sara Tucholsky, a 5-foot-2-inch softball player in her senior year for Western Oregon University, was playing in a big game with Central Washington University. Both teams were vying for the Division II NCAA playoffs. Sara, who was batting less than .200 all season, hit the ball over the fence with two runners on.

She had never hit a ball out of the park before, even in practice. She was so excited, she missed first base. Realizing this, she turned to go back but collapsed in agony as her knee gave out. Her first-base coach yelled that she had to crawl back to first base because if anyone on Sara’s team touched her, she’d be out and her home run would be nullified. Her coach encouraged her to try to crawl around the other bases to preserve her home run, but it was out of the question.

That’s when the star player on the other team, Mallory Holtman, asked the umpire if she and a teammate could carry Sara around the bases. It was an unprecedented request from an opponent fighting for a playoff berth, but the rules allowed it.

Without hesitation, Mallory and shortstop Liz Wallace lifted Sara and carried her, lowering her to touch each base with her good leg. Tears poured down Sara’s cheeks. The first home run she had hit in her life and she thought she couldn’t have it until two players from the other team made sure she could.

To Mallory it was simple: “In the end, it’s not about winning and losing so much; it was about this girl. She hit it over the fence and was in pain and deserved a home run.”

Mallory was right. It is just common decency. But it is uncommon valor.

All the coaches, players, and spectators who were stunned by this spontaneous act of sportsmanship; they wept. Mallory became a national hero.

Mallory’s team lost 4-2, but Mallory set a standard that blazed a trail. No one knew the National Media would be broadcasting this act of sportmanship and uncommon valor over every station Nationwide. This young girl rose above the game and set a standard for life.

Michael Josephson
www.CharacterCounts.org
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
October 16, 2006

***  Kleenex Alert  ***

A teenager lived alone with his father, and the two of them had a very special relationship. Even though the son was always on the bench, his father was always in the stands cheering. He never missed a game.

This young man was still the smallest of the class when he entered high school. But his father continued to encourage him but also made it very clear that he did not have to play football if he didn’t want to. But the young man loved football and decided to hang in there.

He was determined to try his best at every practice, and perhaps he’d get to play when he became a senior. All through high school he never missed a practice nor a game, but remained a bench. His faithful father was always in the stands, always with words of encouragement for him.

When the young man went to college, he decided to try out for the football team as a “walk-on.” Everyone was sure he could never make the cut, but he did. The coach admitted that he kept him on the roster because he always puts his heart and soul to every practice, and at the same time, provided the other members with the spirit and hustle they badly needed.

The news that he had survived the cut thrilled him so much that he rushed to the nearest phone and called his father. His father shared his excitement and was sent season tickets for all the college games. This persistent young athlete never missed practice during his four years at college, but he never got to play in the game. It was the end of his senior football season, and as he trotted onto the practice field shortly before the big play off game, the coach met him with a telegram.

The young man read the telegram and he became deathly silent. Swallowing hard, he mumbled to the coach, “My father died this morning. Is it all right if I miss practice today?” The coach put his arm gently around his shoulder and said, “Take the rest of the week off, son. And don’t even plan to come back to the game on Saturday.

In the third quarter, when the team was ten points behind, a silent young man quietly slipped into the empty locker room and put on his football gear. As he ran onto the sidelines, the coach and his players were astounded to see their faithful teammate back so soon. “Coach, please let me play. I’ve just go to play today,” said the young man. The coach pretended not to hear him. There was no way he wanted his worst player in this close.

Feeling sorry for the kid, the coach gave in. “All right,” he said. “You can go in.” Before long, the coach, the players and everyone in the stands could not believe their eyes. This little unknown, who had never played before was doing everything right. The opposing team could not stop him. He ran, he passed, blocked and tackled like a star. His team began to triumph. The score was soon tied. In the closing seconds of the game, this kid intercepted a pass and ran all the way for the winning touchdown. The fans broke loose. His teammates hoisted him onto their shoulders. Such cheering you’ve never heard! Finally, after the stands had emptied and the team had showered and left the locker room, the coach noticed that the young man was sitting quietly in the corner all alone.

The coach came to him and said, “Kid, I can’t believe it. You were fantastic! Tell me what got into you? How did you do it?” He looked at the coach, with tears in his eyes, and said, “Well, you knew my dad died, but did you know that my dad was blind?” The young man swallowed hard and forced a smile, “Dad came to all my games, but today was the first time he could see me play, and I wanted to show him I could do it!”

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author so credit can be given

MorningStoryandDilbert

There was this preacher who was an avid golfer. Every chance he could get, he could be found on the golf course swinging away. It was an obsession.

One Sunday was a picture perfect day for golfing. The sun was shining, no clouds in the sky, and the temperature was just right. The preacher was in a quandary as to what to do. Play golf or give the Sunday service.

Shortly, the urge to play golf overcame him. He called an assistant, told him he was sick and asked the assistant to take care of the Sunday church service for him. He packed the car up and drove three hours to a golf course where no one would recognize him. Happily, he began to play the course.

An angel up above was watching the preacher and was quite perturbed. She went to God and said, “Look at the preacher. He should be punished for what he is doing.” God nodded in agreement.

The preacher teed up on the first hole. He swung at the ball and hit a perfect drive, straight as an arrow, four-hundred yards right to the green, where it gently rolled into the cup (as they say in basketball, “nothing but net”). A picture perfect hole-in-one. He was amazed and excited.

The angel was a little shocked. He turned to God and said, “Begging Your pardon, but I thought you were going to punish him.”

God smiled. “I did. Just think about it… who can he tell?”

--Author Unknown

dilbert

In an art gallery in London hangs a portrait of a chess game entitled “Checkmate.” On one side of the chessboard is the devil, full of laughter. His hand is posed, ready to make the next move.  

On the other side of the chessboard sits a shaking, frightened young man. Sweat drips down his forehead mixed with tears pouring from his eyes.

One day, a chess champion from another country visited the gallery. The painting naturally caught his attention causing him to examine it for a very long time. In fact, while others had moved on throughout the gallery, the chess champion remained fixated on the game and the devil who was about to make the next move to steal this man’s soul.

Hours passed as the chess champion continued to study the board from every possible angle. The sweat on the young man’s face begged him to continue.  Finally, as the gallery was about to close for the night, people in every part of the enormous building heard a loud scream as the chess champion yelled, “Yes!   I’ve got it! You don’t’ have to lose!”

What this chess champion had done was discover another move that the man could take. He had found a way not only for the young man to escape “checkmate” but to deliver “checkmate” on the devil in only a few more moves into the game.

..from Tony Evans E-book "Well Dressed for Warfare"
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