It was the beginning of the season, the first week of practice. Their finest physical fitness was being tested. This was no place for punks. Man mentality and matching stamina were required.
They tackled and tussled and tossed a few passes. They raced and they bled and dripped sweat by the masses.
Many suffered from dehydration in the 90+ degree temperatures while others greeted their dinners a second or third time. Diet isn’t important? Ask those die-hard 7- to 9-year-old football superstars.
At the end of this particular practice, the coaches pushed them extra-hard. The NFL dreamers earned their jerseys that day. Well, it was a close call for some.
As I said, they were contending with the fire-like heat and summer break S’mores bellies. One of the players had had it. He sat and sobbed as the other helmets nearly brushed the ground during approximately 987 bear crawls.
When everyone had finished his last bear crawl, the team stood in a line and watched as one coach — J’s dad — stood next to the defeated one and said: “Let’s go! If you have to crawl an inch at a time, if you have to stop and take a break, you do it. But you will get to that line.”
If those words weren’t enough, what happened next is what pushed him to his goal.
Exhausted, heaving and parched, J and the other finishers trudged back to their weary teammate, reassumed their positions and bear crawled with him, at his pace, while they took turns shouting or squeaking, “Come on! You can do it!”
He finished because his teammates wouldn’t let him quit. He finished because his teammates demonstrated support. He finished because his teammates expected him to succeed.
Leaders take note: One strong team was birthed that day. The ball is now on your field.