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August Destiny

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The story is told of a young lad who, in a span of 3 – 4 years, was destined to forever shape the lives of about 40 other kids. With Irish-fashioned rhetorical flourish, let’s call this his august destiny.

So – this august destiny began when our young lad changed schools. For whatever reason, his parents decided to send him to a new school. It was all the way across town! It was a strict school, and perhaps the thinking, at some level, was that the rules and regulations would help the young lad learn to obey.

And, perhaps this is the reason some kids get involved in recreation or sports – because their parents think that the activity will shape them right up. Does that ever happen now, still, in our time?

At any rate, just like some schools are not made for all kinds of kids, this young lad came to the strict, far-away school with the will, the wherewithal, and the ability to set a course of profound change at the school. By the sheer force of his will!! But the strict, far-away school was prepared for fellas like him…And so – there on that first day of school, the battle began.

It was an epic battle, and there were many, many rounds – in fact, the battle itself, it went on for several years…

Think back, when you were a kid – in junior high, and high school…

Hey! That was not an easy time, right? It was the best of times – it was the worst of times…

Now by that time, here was already a well-established order within the kids in that cohort – we all knew, pretty much, who was who, and what was what – who hung out with who, and so on…

Right in the middle of all that – the best and the worst, and everything in between…right there was this august destiny kid. Let’s give him a name. Maybe his real name, maybe not. Let’s call him “Mike.”

Now, if ever there was a “Tweener” Kid, it was Mike.

He wasn’t white enough. And he wasn’t dark enough.
He wasn’t smart enough, and he wasn’t dumb enough…
He wasn’t loud enough – and he wasn’t quiet enough…
He wasn’t strong enough, and he wasn’t weak enough…
He wasn’t fast enough, and he wasn’t he slow enough…
He wasn’t serious enough, and he wasn’t funny enough…

So – for us – He was perfect!!!

He was everything that everybody else right there wanted to beHe was – the BEST OF US!

Looking back, years later, several things occurred to me about this epic battle…between Mike, the Force, and that far-away, strict school…

  • Any efforts made to obscure how hilarious this kid was – these efforts only served to amplify his voice!
  • Over the years. some kids left, but they were always still with us…
  • This Mike, guy – He brought us together – he so brought us together – all 40 of us, and made us into one of the greatest graduating classes that school has ever seen. To this day, this is true – ask any faculty member. We are legend there – and if some young spark claims to have never heard of us – they simply ought to sit back, and conjure up in their own minds – the very best that they could be – and there we are – that was us!
  • But all that would not have ever been, without Mike.

And of course, then, we all kind of scattered about…

And every time one of us smiles at a memory of what it was like, way back when – well, guess what – the common denominator to every one of those good memories, and every one of those smiles…is Mike. He is timeless.

He gave himself away – to us…Wow! What a gift! There it was right there – the august destiny to which he was called. We are, Mike, forever, in your debt.

And by the way, just so you don’t get the wrong idea – Mike is alive and well today. I just got so caught up chasing an august destiny of my own, that I never took the chance to tell him thanks –‘til right now.

Thanks, Mike – shout me up anytime. Let’s catch up, some time? Cheers to you!

By Dr. Rodney J. Blackman

Dr. Rodney J. Blackman is the Chair of Recreation Management at the United States Sports Academy, and can be reached at rblackman@ussa.edu.

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