Bob Richards, the former pole-vault champion, shares a moving story about a skinny young boy who loved football with all his heart. Practice after practice, he eagerly gave everything he had. But being half the size of the other boys, he got absolutely nowhere. At all the games, this hopeful athlete sat on the bench and hardly ever played. This teenager lived alone with his father and the two of them had a very special relationship. Even though the son was always on the bench, his father was always in the stands cheering. He never missed a game. This young man was still the smallest of the class when he entered high school. But his father continued to encourage him but also made it very clear that he did not have to play football if he didn't want to. But the young man loved football and decided to hang in there. He was determined to try his best at every practice, and perhaps he'd get to play when he became a senior. All through high school, he never missed a practice nor a game but remained a bench-warmer for all four years. His faithful father was always in the stands, always with words of encouragement for him.
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When the young man went to college, he decided to try out for
the football team as a "walk-on." Everyone was sure
he could never make the cut, but he did. The coach admitted that
he kept him on the roster because he always puts his heart and
soul to every practice, and at the same time, provided the other
members with the spirit and hustle they badly needed. The news
that he had survived the cut thrilled him so much that he rushed
to the nearest phone and called his father. His father shared
his excitement and was sent season tickets for all the college
games. This persistent young athlete never missed practice during
his four years at college, but he never got to play in a game.
It was the end of his senior football season, and as he trotted
onto the practice field shortly before the big playoff game, the
coach met him with a telegram. The young man read the telegram
and he became deathly silent.
Saturday arrived, and the game was not going well. In the third
quarter, when the team was ten points behind, a silent young man
quietly slipped into the empty locker room and put on his football
gear. As he ran onto the sidelines, the coach and his players
were astounded to see their faithful teammate back so soon.
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Finally, after the stands had emptied and the team
had showered and left the locker room, the coach noticed
that this young man was sitting quietly in the corner
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