Just before last Christmas, I received a shocking call from one of my tennis friends: Coach had suffered a stroke. At first I did not believe what I had heard because Coach played tennis and golf every day without fail and was in supreme health. But it was true, and I visited him in the hospital a few days later. Coach had become blind in one eye and had difficulty moving his left arm. It was clear that he would never again be able to play with the same ability the sports he loved.
I have been taught and I believe that whether a person succeeds and is rewarded depends on whether that person can surmount obstacles and continue forward. So when my tennis group encountered difficulties, we were forced to decide whether to push past these obstacles.
I meet with three other boys my age every Saturday morning to play an hour and a half of tennis with a coach. My tennis group was formed four years ago in the summer before 8th grade as a way to exercise every week during the busy school year. However, we were soon plagued by various problems: the high school course load and our other major time commitments soon took their toll on me and my group members, depriving us of sleep. One of our members left to go to a boarding school on the East Coast. We had to change times and locations several times because courts were unavailable. SATs and other Saturday morning events clashed with tennis time. But my teammates and I saw the value in this weekly exercise, and we believed that we could surmount these obstacles. As a result, we were able to maintain this weekly tennis session among the other obligations of our busy lives.
These small events proved to be mere irritants next to the seemingly insurmountable obstacle of Coach’s stroke. However, although the vision in his eye had not fully recovered, Coach never gave up and managed to return to the court after a month as his usual cheery and optimistic self. Because Coach managed to fight his disability and overcome this major obstacle, our Saturday morning tennis group continued. My belief that success comes from overcoming obstacles was justified.
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