This I Believe

Esteban - San Antonio, Texas
Entered on December 1, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

The Kindled Flame

Ever since I was a child, I was always pushed myself to accomplish things through fear; the fear of disappointing the people I love, fear of disappointing myself and the fear of facing defeat. However, as I get older and experience all types of motivation, I fell that I have discovered a catalyst far more effective at inspiring people, especially children. It’s not yelling and screaming when something is done wrong, it’s praising when something is done right and helping to make it right. I believe in encouragement and positive reinforcement.

I am an avid soccer player and have had the honor of playing alongside many others during my lifetime. I have seen kids so good that pro leagues were almost a certainty in their future but they throw it away, either with bad decisions or pure laziness. On the complete other side of the spectrum is the kid who is not so good, but still shows up to practice every day, giving 110%. This is the kid that truly intrigues me. One of my teammates is especially livid in my memory. His name is Robbie Good. Now Robbie was most definitely not the most skillful player, he was chubby and not very fast but he loved the game.

My team was not exactly understanding of his lack of skill and often brought him down. Whenever we would do conditioning, he would always be in the very back and struggling to even keep in view of the team. Being captain, I would run back and push him to keep moving. “Let’s go Robbie! We’re almost there, just 100 meters more!” I would yell and he would come bumbling in to the end, completely burned out. He never gave up. I felt so proud of him every day, making sure he knew it, and slowly, he got faster.

During that season alone, Robbie lost 15 pounds, got amazingly faster and was even promoted to a starting position. This started a chain reaction. The team began realizing what had brought Robbie to this spectacular change and began believing in themselves and seeing their own potential, regardless of their skill level. It’s funny how much one little push can inspire. We began progressing at a rapid pace and progressed all the way to state that year, losing a heartbreaker in the finals but continue to be a contender to take the state championship every year.

In my life, I find that it is not the people that are extremely talented that have my respect; instead it is the persevering one. He is the one that can improve and bring up the spirits of the people around him. But a soul is like a fire; even the most persevering heart, not kindled with encouragement, can die down and burn out.