Stretch and Grow

Ryan - Powell, Ohio
Entered on April 28, 2008

Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa said, “It is not how hard you get hit but how hard you get hit and keep on moving.” Throughout life individuals are faced with difficult circumstances that can have a drastic impact on focus and goals. Personally, I was recently given the opportunity to experience one of these learning situations. I was faced with a challenge in my senior year of high school for which there was no easy answers. I refer to it as: stretch and grow. I was forced to stretch from my comfort zone to a place of new understanding and personal growth.

It was the completion of my junior football season and I was eager to prepare for my senior year. My father was the football coach for my high school team. I grew up watching and waiting for my time to play for him. After sixteen years of watching my dad spend numerous hours of time with various senior classes, it was finally my time. It was going to be the one year that would create lasting memories for us both to cherish together.

In time we discovered that our dreams of the 2006 football season would vanish. My father was asked by the school administration to resign his position as Head Football Coach on January 10, 2006. This is the date that changed my life, a date that I remember every time I step onto the football field, a date that haunts me every day when I go to school, and a date that I will never forget.

Consequently, my emotions were raw for months. I had so much running through my mind. Why would you even want to stay at a school that did such an awful thing to you and your father? Adult sized questions circulated in my mind that I was not ready or willing to address. I had pressure for months about what school district I would attend. The entire experience would have been gut wrenchingly impossible, if it hadn’t been for the silent strength, dispassionate guidance, and firm support of my father.

From my father’s wisdom, I was handed my first lesson in growing up. Reality set in quickly, and I had to stretch out of my young life of my parents making the important decisions for me to grow into essential decision making for myself. I would start the life process of becoming an adult. It was time for me to make an impact on my own life.

Although my father and I were not able to live out the highly anticipated dream, no one could end it. Let’s just say, I modified it. I decided to finish my senior year at my home school. I grew to realize one couldn’t run away from issues when they are presented. Changing schools was just a way to erase the situation from my mind. I chose to deal with it in hopes to become stronger and more resilient. I made the wise decision to finish what I had started. I did not spend my senior year alone; I completed my senior year with a dad who coached me not in x’s and o’s but in life’s most important lessons. My father always told me, “Our life is a process of continuous unfolding: difficulties and contradictions are signs that show us how to keep advancing in the discovery of life and ourselves.”