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Getting ready for another season of baseball in the Hernando Youth League (Brooksville, FL) circa. 2010.

I grew up loving baseball as I watched the Houston Astros play from our home in the Houston suburbs back in the 1980’s.

So, when I moved my family to Florida in 2006 as I started to work with my second church, I enrolled my boys in the local Hernando Youth League baseball program. While it added to the craziness of our schedule, Kim and I had years of joy sitting in the stands as we cheered for our boys. We celebrated their achievements but also loved that they were learning teamwork, the importance of a good work ethic, the value of passion, the necessity of mental and physical toughness, and so much more. We wouldn’t give anything for those years (or the tons of pictures and videos that we’ve got as we captured the moments).

But, at some point around 2009, Sean made it clear that he was wanting to venture out into football. I had never played football and never bothered to follow it much. But, we were willing to support Sean in his new adventure.

We wondered how long it would last. We silently wondered if it was simply a short-lived phase that he was going through.

So, we enrolled him in the Hernando Youth League in the summer of 2009. The following picture was taken before he started his second game at Citrus County High School (September 2009).

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Before Sean’s second football game (Inverness, Florida).

His team went to the playoffs that year. We traveled to The Villages for that game. Unfortunately, they were up against a team that had only lost once that season. The final score was 14-12 but this Dad couldn’t have been any more proud of my son than I was that night. Sean played his heart out.

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Debriefing after the game in The Villages on October 24, 2009. Sean is in the center of the picture wearing the #79 jersey.

Well, fast forward 8 years.

Sean has grown in a lot of ways in the past 9 years. We are so proud of the man that he is becoming and know that God has a wonderful heart to work with as He uses Sean for His glory.

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Senior Night (October 30, 2018). Sean is also in the picture behind me with the sunglasses. (It was raining, cold, and almost 2 hours before the game so the stands were empty as all of the senior football players were recognized.)

Last night was Sean’s final game. We drove to Franklin, Kentucky, to play a team that were the State champs 2 years ago and the runner-up State champs last year (I think I got these facts in the right order).

While we lost the game (as was expected), my heart was filled with paternal pride again as I watched my son give it his all on the field. As he played defense, he made some incredible tackles and was constantly trying to motivate his teammates to mentally stay in the game.

We’ve always told our boys that winning doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that they gave it their all. If they walk off the field after the game knowing that they played their best, the numbers on the scoreboard really don’t matter.

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Can’t see Sean in this picture but he’s playing defense.

 

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Sean (#6)

 

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The final team prayer after the game. When the prayer was finished, they spent quite a bit of time giving each other (manly) hugs as they recognized their season was over and many of them would probably never play organized football again.

So, what’s next? A couple of weeks ago, one of Kim’s brothers (Kevin) came to Murray. He and one of his sons watched Sean play some football but he also gave some very helpful information about “next steps.” Kevin is a Lieutenant Colonel and leads the Air Force National Guard based in Louisville. Sean wanted to talk with him as he gathers facts about what his future may look like.

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Sean and his Uncle Kevin

Whatever Sean ultimately decides to do as he prepares to make the next steps after graduating from high school in May, I am convinced that he will succeed. He’s got a great heart and God has used football (among many other things) to help develop Sean into the man that he has become.

As he ventures out into life within the next year or two, I will continue to take my seat in the “stands” as Kim and I continue to cheer for him. It’s going to be fun!

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Second season of football (2010)