Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We need new heroes, Part Two

In my previous post, I discussed how we need new heroes. Our current heroes are so flawed and too often so one-dimensional that they deserve little attention. People like Barry Bonds, A-Rod, Michael Phelps, etc.

We need new heroes, like the numerous volunteers that help us everyday.

I've seen firsthand that volunteers get little appreciation today. Volunteers--people that are paid nothing, yet give of their time to helps others, are usually criticized or at best, taken for granted.

I coached baseball and basketball as a volunteer for nine years and enjoyed it overall. I was truly grateful for the few special dads and moms that also volunteered to help me and developed lifelong bonds with them. But all I saw from most parents was a minivan driving up, the side door opening, junior jumping out, the door closing and the minivan speeding away.

I did get criticized after coaching my daughter's basketball team as we broke it's school's 100+ game losing streak--a parent thought I should have played her daughter more minutes. (I have to note that a fellow volunteer, a good friend of mine named Joe Sowder, was co-coaching with me and was the one with the basketball talent--he was responsible for the win).

I loved coaching kids but had to focus on the positive--helping the kids, working with the engaged parents. The politics and the absentee parents that looked at the volunteers as a babysitting service were the downers.

The answer? Volunteer. Use your unique talent. I'm very limited as a coach--I'm a good cheerleader but am very challenged as far as technique goes, so I found great volunteers that made up for my shortcomings. Be a role model for a young person. You may be the only positive role model they ever have.

That's being a real hero.

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