Life lessons from a high school baseball team

My mom moved my younger brother and me to Minden in 1974 when I was about 10 years old. My parents had just divorced, and we had moved into a two-bedroom apartment.  We would qualify as poor on any scale, but I was blessed with opportunities to play sports almost year around.

One thing I noticed early on that was so different to me (based on where we moved from in Texas) was that the youth sports leagues were segregated. There was a predominantly white league for all the sports and a predominantly black league for the same sports. They were run by the same city director, would compete at times in various district tournaments, but were separate throughout the year. In Jr. High School, we came together and played on the same teams and had outstanding success in football and basketball. That success would continue together all the way through high school.

In baseball, we didn’t come together on one team until our 10th grade year. Both leagues had good all-star teams each year, but I don’t recall either league ever winning a district tournament, much less a state tournament. But you know what, when we came together as one team in high school, we would go on and win three consecutive state championships. What we could not do apart, we achieved together. Something special happened when we came together!

It seems so ironic, that a group of kids could come together with a common purpose and achieve so much. When we were on the diamond in a state playoff game and needed a big hit or a big out to win a key game, it didn’t matter what league we had played in growing up. We just needed to find a way together to score that run or make that play!

If a group of kids from different backgrounds could come together for a common purpose, one would wonder why adults could not do the same.  We have so many things, even beyond race, that seem to divide us today.  Back then winning a state championship was such a big accomplishment, and while it was at the time, the stakes are even higher today as adults.  We have a nation that seems to be arguing and dividing over so many issues.  We need unity and common purpose more than ever.  While I don’t have all the answers, I do want to suggest a few thoughts to generate thinking and expand the conversation.

  • Humility precedes unity.  Humble yourself and look to the needs of others first.
  • Find common purpose.  A shared cause or purpose will bring people together.
  • Be a good teammate.  We need more good teammates rather than superstars.  
  • Excel in listening.  Be quick to listen and slow to speak.
  • Don’t settle for the expected.  Special things can happen when people come together.

The concept of team needs to be reintroduced to our society.  Team is a group of people coming together to pursue a common purpose, achieve a common goal, or serve a common need.  Ideally, this team would be a collection of people from diverse backgrounds with different skillsets and experiences all coming together!  When we take diverse individuals and unify around a common purpose, special things can happen!  

Give it some thought.  Special things happen when people come together.  We need people coming together!  We could also use some special things to happen!

Contact Doug at Doug.strickel@gmail.com.


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