Friday, April 30, 2010

Positive Influences

Early on a cold winter’s morning, four young teenage boys donning gray cotton sweat pants and shirts meet for another pre-dawn run. Its 1973, Years before the technical garments we know today. No lycra, dri-fit, or cool max. Wearing the black canvas, thin, gum soled running shoes that were popular for the day,they head north through a middle class neighborhood of medium sized wood frame homes northwest of downtown San Antonio. Running into a stiff wind, they wipe their runny noses on their sleeves. Their destination is Jefferson high school. The plans are to run the approximately 3 miles to the school, workout in the school gym weight room, and run back home with a stop at Woodlawn lake to watch the sail boats and skip rocks on the water.
-What drove my friends and I to do this? 13 and 14 year old kids, running at 6 AM on a cold winter morning. Not too common these days I would guess. We had all been involved in sports since about age 6. The area sports organization of the Prospect Hill area we lived in offered Baseball, Soccer, and Football to kids from age 6 to 14. This organization was staffed by a good group of local adults. Some were fathers of our friends. Others were church leaders. Men and Women who influenced us in a positive way. Memories of these people live on in my mind.
Mr. Cepeda my Little League baseball coach, who told me I could hit the ball “a country mile” and who sent me back behind the plate in a game when I thought my elbow was broken. He taught me mental toughness. Mr. Moreno and his Wife, huge financial contributors to the organization and who, even though their son played on an opposing team, always helped and encouraged me, and others to do well. With the exception of the championship Soccer team I was on at age 14, I was mostly on teams at or just above .500. We were taught to play to win, but also taught how to lose gracefully. I am forever grateful for these Men and Women. They planted a seed in us. They taught us not only to become and stay physically active but also to be good citizens. To this day, I hold them, and those individuals who positively influence children and young adults, in high regard.-
Reaching the school gym the boys met the school football coach who greeted them cheerfully. A large photo of Tommy Nobis in a Texas Longhorn uniform hung over the gym entrance. Tommy Nobis,is a Jefferson High school alumnus who after playing at TEXAS, went on to a stellar career with the Atlanta Falcons. The boys stared in awe and imagined, if just for a moment, playing pro ball. They did look forward to playing high school ball at historic Jefferson high school one day. This would not happen, as the school district lines would be redrawn sending the boys to another school. After a few sets of weight lifting, it was time to head back. The day was warmer now and the sun was shining brightly. The spring in their step was a little slower now, so the boys trotted along a winding street lined with large colonial style homes on their way to Woodlawn Lake. The lake park was teaming with activity. A doubles tennis game was going on at the lakeside tennis courts, the lake was full with sailboats, people were fishing on the banks and off the piers. Ducks waddling around the cypress trees which lined the lake were looking for anything that may be good to eat. After walking around the lake, pitching rocks and enjoying the breezy sunny day, the boys continued on home. Tomorrow would bring another adventure. Perhaps, another run or a bicycle ride! Surely they’d come up with something to challenge themselves physically. The boys remained very active physically and socially throughout their youth growing up together. Thanks to positive, influential and caring individuals.

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