It was a brisk fall day. I had to be around 11 or 12, a pre-season football game against the “roughest” team from the next town over left me with that uneasy “butterflies” feeling in my stomach. A combination of nervousness, fear, and lack of confidence led me straight to the restroom, motionless in the stall. In my mind, I could just sit in there and wait it out. The game would go on without me and I could just go home.
But minutes after finding my safe-haven in the bathroom, I heard the door. “Gabe, you in here?,” a recognizable voice said. I slowly opened to stall door, to see my dad with a concerned look on his face.
It was then when my father, Brian Norwood, gave a speech that has stuck with me until today. Now, word-for-word, the monologue is a little cloudy. But at 11 or 12, I remember my dad giving inspiring words of wisdom from a place of unconditional love that only a father could give. I wasn’t forced to go out play, but was challenged to step up and make a decision on how to confront a moment of fear and self-doubt.
After his speech, a hug, and an “I love you” the weight of the game and the monster-like opponent seemed minuscule. And any amount fear or doubt that was there before was now filled with pride and confidence. This new mindset allowed me to go out and compete to the best of my ability and enjoy every minute of the game.
Three key points that I learned and plan to re-emphasis as a father are:
My dad’s words were his, but given to him from Above. He was always open about his relationship with Christ, and even found a way to incorporate his beliefs through various sports scenarios. The ability to bridge faith with real life situations, is a skill I hope to instill in my children.
2. Self Confidence-
Trusting your work ethic and dedication to any task, whether it’s sports or anything else, is a universal lesson we all can apply. As a father, I hope to be a walking example of this, just as my dad was for me.
3. Risk Taking-
“You just have to jump off that cliff” is a common phrase my dad always used, and one that I plan on passing along with my kids. Yes, you could fail but learning lessons are guaranteed after going through failures. And even better, you can also succeed and reach new goals, which you never knew you could ever achieve.