The Wonderful Traditions of New Year’s

jay-haung

Photo Credit: Jay Haung via CC Flickr

The annual celebration of New Year’s Eve is one of my favorite times of the year. It is during this time that we reminisce about the past year and, at the same time, look ahead, plan, and make resolutions for the future. Millions and millions of people around the world take part in the festivities and revelry as they welcome in the New Year.

As with many of the holidays that we have throughout the year, I always find it very interesting and enjoyable to find some history and fun facts about each day. This holiday is no different. So, I decided to share some interesting facts with you about the celebration of New Year and some other intriguing things…so…here we go.

Interesting Things That Are Dropped New Year’s Eve

Most people from around the world, know that every year, New York City welcomes in the New Year in Times Square, by dropping a big “ball” which gradually descends from the top of a pole to the bottom, where it rests while all kinds of lights blink and shine as the new year begins. It all started in 1907 after there was a fireworks ban. In 1907, the iron and wood ball weighed 700-pounds and was covered with 25-watt bulbs made of iron. Today, it weighs 11,875 pounds, is 12 feet in diameter and is adorned with 2,668 Waterford crystals. Meanwhile, close to a million people in the square, dance, party, hug and kiss, and have a good time at this joyous moment. Around the world, approximately 1 billion people watch world-wide festivities from their televisions or computers.

But are there other things that are dropped in celebration of New Year’s instead of a giant ball? You bet there is!!! Here are some remarkable objects that are “dropped.” So, without further ado, here are some things from around the United States that I think you will find entertaining.

In Brookville, Florida, a giant tangerine was dropped 40 feet in 2009.

In Traverse, Michigan, a cherry is dropped.

In Flagstaff, Arizona, a pine cone is dropped from a hotel.

In Prescott, Arizona, a boot is dropped

In South Lake, California, a gondola is lowered.

In Temecula, California, a bunch of grapes is dropped.

In Niagara Falls, Ontario, a 10 foot guitar is dropped from a specially designed 120-foot scaffold at the Hard Rock Café.

In Easton, Maryland, a red crab is dropped.

In Lebanon, Pennsylvania, a 100-pound stick of bologna is dropped.

In Easton, Pennsylvania, and giant M&M is dropped

In St. George’s, Bermuda, a paper-Mache Bermuda onion covered with Christmas lights is dropped.

In Black Creek, North Carolina, a large red heart drop is lowered.

In Eastover, North Carolina, a three-foot tall, thirty-pound flea is dropped.

In Elmore, Ohio, a sausage is dropped.

In Cincinnati, Ohio, a flying pig is “flown”, not dropped, demonstrating to everyone that there is at least one occasion “when pigs fly.”

In Red Lion, Pennsylvania. A wooden cigar held by a lion, is raised.

In Panama City, Florida, a 800-pound beach ball is lowered from a tower 12 stories high.

In Praire du Chien, Wisconsin, A carp (real but dead) caught by a local fisherman and weighing between 25-30 pounds is lowered.

In Vincennes, Indiana, a giant 18-foot, 500 pound steel and foam watermelon is raised 100 feet during the final 60 second countdown to midnight.

…..and there are many, many others!!!

 

Several Amazing Facts About the New Year Celebration

The Babylonians celebrated New Years over 4,000 years ago.

The New Year’s song, “Auld Lang Syne,” means, “times gone by.”

If you want to have a happy new year, don’t eat lobster or chicken. Lobsters can move backward and chickens can scratch in reverse, so it is thought these foods could bring a reversal of fortune.

The Jewish New Year is called Rosh Hashanah. Apples and honey are usually eaten to celebrate.

In Italy, people wear red underwear on New Year’s Day to bring good luck all year long.

In some countries, the use of fireworks are used for more than just celebrations…they are also believed to scare off evil spirits and bring good luck

44% of American adults plan to kiss someone at midnight.

61% of people say a prayer.

Over 1 million people line the 40 miles of shoreline of the city of Sydney, Australia.

In Japan, at the stroke of midnight, Buddhist monks strike the gongs 108 times in aneffort to drive out the 108 human weaknesses.

New Year’s Day is the oldest celebrated holiday.

Many people in America, eat Black Eyed Peas, cabbage, and ham on New Year’s Day for good luck.

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Well, I hope that you enjoyed these tidbits and facts. I would like to personally wish each and every one of you the healthiest and happiest New Year!!

And here’s to many, many more! J

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Sources:

Ducksters.com

Ibtimes.com

Qualitylogoproducts.com

CNN.com

History.com

14 Ways Sports Parents Can Greatly Influence Their Young Athletes

Photo Credit: Jim Larrison

Photo Credit: Jim Larrison

Well folks, it getting to be that time of year again when a variety of sports begin: soccer, football, tennis, etc. The start of the fall sports season also signals the involvement of thousands upon thousands of eager little athletes as they take the fields and get ready for action.

Along with these adolescent competitor, will be a host of parents who will either be spectators or coaches. Today’s blog, has to do mainly with the moms, dads, and relatives who will be watching the festivities on the sideline.

Many of you know that I have been a teacher and coach for over 30 years. I have coached and taught at just about every age level throughout my career. It was once said that if a person loves what they do, they never work a day in their life…and you know what? That’s the way I feel..I love what I do.

So, today I decided to share with you (if you are a parent of a young athlete) 14 “keys” that can help parents be a positive influence in their young athletes lives. I found this list from a college basketball coach who got this list from someone else…therefore the author of this list is unknown but very, very good!!

Please feel free to share this list with anyone who you feel could use it!!

Tell your child every time that you watch them play, “I loved watching you play!”: Please think about how that would make you feel! I know that that would make anybody feel great!

Do not soften the blow for your child after a loss: If they lose, teach them not to make excuses, to learn from the loss and move on. Many times the players move from the loss quicker then the parents. We get better through set-backs if we face our challenges head on. It also makes us mentally tougher and resilient…two important life skills.

Do not coach your child: Coaching your child may confuse your child. Allow them to experience how to deal with others. Encourage your child to listen to their coach. The #1 advice I could give a parent is to find a program where you agree with the philosophy of the coach and then allow them to coach. A very simple definition of each person’s role puts it into perspective: Players=Play, Coaches=Coach, Parents=Support, Officials=Officiate. Make sure to play your role well and not someone else’s role.

Teach them to be a part of something greater than themselves: Teach them this by applauding their effort and their ability to be coached. Do not coach them to look to score, “take over” the game, show-off their talent, shoot more, or run-up the score. If you teach them to be “me” players, they will miss the experience of being part of a team. Teamwork teaches humility and makes life work…all players need to learn it.

Do not approach your child’s coach about playing time: Encourage your child to speak with their coach. A coach should be honest with their players about where they stand and what they need to do to improve. Your job is not to approach the coach about playing time. Your child needs to learn to advocate for themselves and learn how to communicate with others. Remember that a player being a valuable member of the team is important…it is not all about playing time. Also, they may be a less experienced player and may need to develop. Many players do not come into their own until their senior year.

Do not compare your child to others, but encourage them to be the best that they can be! If a parent is constantly trying to have their child be better than someone else, the child will always be second best…but if you encourage your child to be the best that they can be and compete to be that way everyday, they will get better and they will reach their potential.

Cheer for all!…AND never speak negatively about your child, another child or a coach: We would not want anyone to speak negatively about our child, so do not speak of someone else’s child in a detrimental manner.

Be Self-Disciplined: Sports can be very emotional…they can bring out the best in us and the worst in us if we are not careful. Keep your emotions under control. Would you want someone yelling at you from the stands? Would you want someone yelling at you from work?

Let it be your child’s experience: In order to do so, we must acknowledge that we cannot control the experience of our child…that’s why it is called an experience. When we experience something we will have good times and bad times, great moments and average plays, we will deal with victory and defeat…allow your child to experience these highs and lows in sport which will allow them to experience the ups and downs of life…if we try to control the experience, our child is not being prepared for life.

Teach them to play for the love of the game (NOT A TROPHY): Teach your child that they are playing for the love of the game, for their teammates, for the love of competition. Think about if you could teach your child to be a great competitor, a great teammate and love what they do…that would be special!! In youth sports, we need to get away from the fact that everyone gets a trophy…if we do, we are teaching them to play for the reward rather then understanding that the reward is playing the game itself.

Focus on process: Sports like life are a process and we need to attack the process everyday to               grow and get better. The process is hard work, knowledge, attitude, perseverance,                                        teamwork, coachability, dealing with success and failure…and winning is the by-product…in sports             and in life!

Enjoy the journey of your child: Any journey we take is bound to have great moments,some bad moments, and some moments that we laugh at….enjoy the journey with your childand do not agonize over every single play, a decision by the coach, a good or bad game by the team or your child. In 25 years, you will wish you were watching your child play…so enjoy the journey!

Be a parent, not a fan: Your child will make mistakes, your child is not always perfect. Teach them when the time is right and make sure to compliment them when needed.

Do not make excuses: “The teacher or coach does not like me” is a familiar excuse…in the end, coaches like children that play hard, are coachable, have a great attitude, show perseverance, are a good teammate, and know how to deal with success and failure in positive ways…the important thing is to teach your child all of these attributes!,

Words of Wisdom of Legendary Coach Pat Summit

Photo Credit: Tennessee Journalist

Photo Credit: Tennessee Journalist

Well-known and respected women’s college basketball coach, Pat Summit, died a few days ago, at the age of 64, five years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She was the head coach of the University of Tennessee’s basketball team and won more games than any other basketball coach in Division 1 history with 1.098 wins, 8 NCAA National Championships, and NEVER has a losing season. In their list of the top 50 coaches of all-time, the Sporting News placed her at number 11. She was truly an American icon!

As a coach (and teacher) I like to find good quotes and other tid-bits of information from successful individuals and Coach Summit was no exception. I decided to share with you many of the quotes that she stated over the years. It is my hope that you can discover some inspiration from some of the quotes and share them with others!

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Admit to and make yourself accountable for mistakes. How can you improve if you’re never wrong?

Loyalty is not unilateral. You have to give it to receive it.

Surround yourself with people who are better than you are. Seek out quality people, acknowledge their talents, and let them do their jobs. You win with people.

Value those colleagues who tell you the truth, not just what you want to hear.

Communication eliminates mistakes.

We communicate all the time, even when we don’t realize it. Be aware of body language.

Discipline yourself, so no one else has to.

Self discipline helps you believe in yourself.

Group discipline produces a unified effort toward a common goal.

Discipline helps you finish a job, and finishing is what separates excellent work from average work.

Put the Team Before Yourself.

When you understand yourself and those around you, you are better able to minimize weaknesses and maximize strengths. Personality profiles help.

Success is about having the right person, in the right place, at the right time.

Know your strengths, weaknesses, and needs.

Teamwork doesn’t come naturally. It must be taught.

Teamwork allows common people to obtain uncommon results.

Not everyone is born to lead. Role players are critical to group success.

Make Winning an Attitude.

Attitude is a choice. Maintain a positive outlook.

No one ever got anywhere by being negative.

Confidence is what happens when you’ve done the hard work that entitles you to succeed.

Competition isn’t social. It separates achievers from the average.

You can’t always be the most talented person in the room. But you can be the most competitive.
There is nothing wrong with having competitive instincts. They are survival instincts.

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts the most.

Change equals self improvement. Push yourself to places you haven’t been before.

Handle Success Like You Handle Failure. You can’t always control what happens, but you can control how you handle it.

Sometimes you learn more from losing than winning. Losing forces you to reexamine.

It’s harder to stay on top than it is to make the climb, Continue to seek new goals.

There is no such thing as self respect without respect for others.

Individual success is a myth. No one succeeds all by herself.

People who do not respect those around them will not make good team members and probably lack self esteem themselves.

Being responsible sometimes means making tough, unpopular decisions.

The Four Wives We All Have

Eksley

Photo Credit: Eksley via CC Flickr

Once upon a time there was a rich King who had four wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest of delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best.

He also loved the 3rd wife very much and was always showing her off to neighboring kingdoms. However, he feared that one day she would leave him for another.

He also loved his 2nd wife. She was his confidant and was always kind, considerate and patient with him. Whenever the King faced a problem, he could confide in her, and she would help him get through the difficult times.

The King’s 1st wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the first wife. Although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her!

One day, the King fell ill and he knew his time was short. He thought of his luxurious life and wondered, “I now have four wives with me, but when I die, I’ll be all alone.” Thus, he asked the 4th wife, “I have loved you the most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me and keep me company?” “No way!”, replied the 4th wife, and she walked away without another word. Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart.

The sad King then asked the 3rd wife, “I have loved you all my life. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me and keep me company?” “No!”, replied the 3rd wife. “Life is too good! When you die, I’m going to remarry!” His heart sank and turned cold.

He then asked the 2nd wife, “I have always turned to you for help and you’ve always been there for me. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?” “I’m sorry, I can’t help you out this time!”, replied the 2nd wife. “At the very most, I can only send you to your grave.” Her answer came like a bolt of lightning, and the King was devastated.

Then a voice called out: “I’ll leave with you and follow you no matter where you go.” The King looked up, and there was his first wife. She was so skinny as she suffered from malnutrition and neglect. Greatly grieved, the King said, “I should have taken much better care of you when I had the chance!”

In truth, we all have 4 wives in our lives: Our 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it will leave us when we die.

Our 3rd wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, it will all go to others.

Our 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how much they have been there for us, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave.

And our 1st wife is our Soul, which is often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasures of the world. However, our Soul is the only thing that will follow us wherever we go. So cultivate, strengthen and cherish it now, for it is the only part of us who will follow us to the throne of God and continue with us throughout Eternity. When the world pushes you to your knees…..You’re in the perfect position to pray. Think about this… Are you aware that if we died tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of days? But the family we left behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives. And come to think of it, we pour ourselves more into work than to our own family, an unwise investment indeed, don’t you think? And we often treat strangers and co-workers better than members of our family.
Have you hugged and loved your family today and told them that you love them? If not, what are you waiting for?

The love of a family is life’s greatest blessings!

 

 

 

Finding Strength in Difficult Times: The Story of the Hero and the Coward

Arash Hashemi

Photo Credit: Arash Hashemi via Wikimedia Commons

We all experience difficult times throughout our lifetime. Some are more trying and problematic than others but through them all, we can learn from those experiences, either in a negative or a positive manner. Legendary NFL football coach, Bill Parcells, once told the following story (paraphrased a little) that illustrated the power of perseverance and determination of an athlete that experienced a grueling and challenging situation and emerged a winner because of it.

More than 30 years ago, there was a well-known, hard hitting boxer named Eugene “the Cyclone” Hart. Hart was heavily favored to win his next bout against a supposedly ungifted puncher, Vita Antuofermo. It was said that the only thing that Antuofermo could do was that “he bled well.” But, here’s the important thing, he had good attributes that you couldn’t see.”

During the fight, Hart dominated Antuofermo, knocking him all over the ring, giving him punishing blows and vicious punches. Antuofermo absorbed the punishment that was dealt to him by his naturally superior opponent, and he did it so well, that Hart became discouraged. In the fifth round, Hart began to tire, not physically but mentally. Taking advantage of the situation, Antuofermo attacked and delivered a series of quick punches that knocked Hart down and out, thus ending the fight.

“When the fighters went back to their makeshift locker rooms, only a thin curtain was between them. Hart’s room was quiet, but on the other side he could hear Antuofermo’s cornerman talking about who would take the fighter to the hospital. Finally he heard Antuofermo say, “every time he hit me with that left hook to the body, I was sure I was going to quit. After the second round, I thought if he hit me there again, I’d quit. I thought the same thing after the fourth round. Then he didn’t hit me no more.”

“At that moment, Hart began to weep. It was really soft at first. Then harder. He was crying because for the first time he understood that Antuofermo had felt the same way he had and worse. The only thing that separated the guy talking from the guy crying was what they had done. The coward and the hero had the same emotions. They’re both humans.”

The important question to ask yourself here is this: how did each man respond to the tough situation that they were experiencing? Maybe you are in an arduous position right now or, if not, one might be coming. How will you react? Like a hero or a coward?

Are You Sad? Here Are Some Ways to Instantly Make You Feel Good!

Stephen Bowler

Photo Credit: Stephen Bowler via CC Flickr

It happens to the best of us. One minute your sat comfortably enjoying your time on Earth and the next you want to flip all the tables you can get your hands on. Maybe it was something someone said, perhaps it was a memory from a fight you’d had that morning: either way you’re about one irritating noise away from going on a rampage.

Never fear! We have the answers! Here are 12 tips and tricks you can use to boost your mood no matter how blue you’re feeling:

  1. Tell Somebody

If you’re feeling down, call a loved one or friend. Nothing is more precious than someone who can cheer you up no matter how bad you’re feeling, and if they are truly your friends then they’ll do their best to make everything better! They know you’d do the same for them.

  1. Get Moving

Clear your mind and refresh your thoughts by partaking in some light exercise! Walk about, dance, or run on the spot even for a few minutes and you’ll feel better in no time. Exercise releases endorphins, distracts from any worries you may be mulling over and raises your energy levels almost instantly.

We know not everyone can simply jog out of his or her office or start doing jumping jacks in a meeting, but there’s no reason you can’t do some stretching. Lift your arms and legs or stretch them out, touch your toes; hell if you’re feeling brave do some yoga positions!

  1. Go Outside

Nothing is more cleansing than fresh air and sunlight, in fact there are numerous studies that show those who adopt an outdoor lifestyle show significantly less symptoms of depression and anxiety than those who work indoors all day. Spending a few minutes in the sun will raise your vitamin D – also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ – levels, which are crucial for physical and mental well-being.

  1. Just Breathe

Take a minute out of your day to just relax and take some deep breaths. Partaking in just a few deep breathing sessions a day reduces stress, rids your body of 70% of toxins, aids digestion, helps you to let go of tension and increases the oxygen levels in your blood.

Simply try breathing in for five seconds, feeling your diaphragm expand and air fill your lungs, then hold that breath for another five seconds before slowly exhaling. Do this a few times and you’ll feel the control and happiness coming back to you.

  1. Leave The Negative People Behind

There’s nothing more detrimental to your attitude than being surrounded by negative people. This may be in real life, online or in your phone: either way it’s time to let go of the downers. Ridding yourself of toxic people is not selfish, it is a form of self-care that will make you happier in the short and long term.

  1. Work On A Task That Means Something To You

Whether it’s a lingering assignment you’ve yet to complete or a work of passion you haven’t had time for, now’s the time to sit and work on something important to you. By lifting the weight of a burden off of your shoulders or indulging in something you love, you’ll be filled with satisfaction and boost your mood.

  1. Eat Something Tasty

If it’s close to lunchtime or you haven’t eaten in a while, you may just be crabby because you’re hangry (that’s hungry and angry). Get a snack, let it settle for five minutes and then get on with your day. Chances are you’ll be feeling better already.

  1. Drink Some Water

Dehydration can cause low mood, headaches and fatigue so make sure you drink a lot of water throughout the day to keep your mood at it’s best!

  1. Help Someone Else

Chances are you’re not the only one feeling blue right now. Try writing a nice email, Facebook message or Tweet to someone you care about, maybe even write a general status that’ll cheer everyone who reads it up. Doing a good deed is often the quickest way to make ourselves’ smile and feel better.

10. Change Your Environment

Did you know that the colours you surround yourself with could impact on your mood? For example, blues and greens are meant to be soothing shades, whereas yellows and reds create energy. If you’re feeling sleepy or anxious, perhaps purchase some colour-coded happiness! Even better, buy a plant: they filter the air around you making the oxygen cleaner and richer, boosting productivity.

Another easy way to boost your mood is to organize your belongings. Decluttering creates space in your area and in your mind, so why not have a quick tidy up.

 11. Get Creative

Writing, drawing, listening to music, watching a funny show or reading some motivational posters are bound to make you feel better. If you’re prone to luls throughout your day, perhaps you should make a playlist that you can listen to when you notice your mood shift, or keep a pen and notepad handy for doodles and writing. If all else falls Google ‘funny cats’.

12. Take A Step Back

If you’re still not feeling your best, then it may be time to take a step back and look at your life. Write a list of three things that you are grateful for or simply take a moment to think about how things could be worse. Remember that you are in control and give yourself permission to change the things you are not satisfied with in your life, including your mood towards it.


 

Author Bio:

Siobhan Harmer is a video game, coffee and travel lover from England. Although she is the human equivalent of a sloth Siobhan sometimes writes things, most of which you can find on her blog There You Are Sibby.
Read more at http://goweloveit.info/lifestyle/feeling-down-here-are-12-ways-you-can-feel-better-instantly/#1kp5hhSJvlF1iEe4.99

“Keep Yourself at 17 Inches”

Nations_Park_Home_plate

Photo Credit: Gerald Klein (Nations Park Home Plate) via Wikimedia Commons

I recently came across a fantastic story written by Coach Sperry, that a couple of friends of mine sent to me via Face Book. I thought that it was something that should certainly be shared with everyone and worth the read…especially parents and coaches.

In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who the heck is John Scolinos, I wondered. Well, in 1996 Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. No matter, I was just happy to be there.

He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate. Pointed side down.

Seriously, I wondered, who in the hell is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally …

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility.

“No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?”came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls.

“And what do they do with a a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over these seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Bobby. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of throwing the ball over it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”

Pause.

“Coaches …”

Pause.

” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? What do we do if he violates curfew? What if he uses drugs? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold.

Then he turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”

Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful….to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside.

“… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they are — your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.