We all have defining moments in our lives - meaningful experiences that stand out in our memory. Many of them happen because of chance: A lucky encounter with someone who becomes the love of your life. A teacher who spots a talent you didn’t know you had. A sudden loss that upends the certainties of your life. These moments seem to be the product of fate or luck or maybe a higher power’s intervention. Any way you slice it, these moments have an impact on us (Heath and Heath, 2017).
Many years ago, I was coaching freshman football at at a nearby high school. There was a boy on our team named Ronnie who was small, slow, and not much of an athlete. Ronnie did not see the field much during his freshman, sophomore, or junior seasons. However, something happened between Ronnie's junior and senior seasons. He grew to be 6’2”, developed a great deal of muscle, and became one of the fastest runners on the team. He dedicated himself to the weight room and extra practice to prepare for an exceptional season. After his senior year, he was named All Conference in the Mississippi Valley, which I would consider to be one of the best football conferences in the state of Iowa. Three years earlier this kid could barely run on the field without falling over his own feet and now he had developed into a premier athlete in the state of Iowa.
The end of that football season was a defining moment in my life. I decided I would never give up on a kid because you never know when something is going to click. There are kids like Ronnie sitting in our classrooms and walking our halls right now. There are students who haven’t found their nitch with reading, others who don’t know how to best regulate their emotions. There are other children who haven’t found what interests them yet. You never know when the switch is going flip and we must never give up hope. Ronnie is a kid in my life who had a large impact and I am grateful for the moment I decided to never give up hope.