As the father of eight and ten year old boys, I think a lot about the adults who are impacting them right now. I look at their teachers and feel a deep sense of gratitude for their investment in my sons and in all the kids in their classes. I’m thankful that they are good teachers, and most importantly, good human beings who are not there because it’s a job, but because they know they are supposed to be there…maybe even called. I’m thankful for every man and woman that volunteers every Sunday in their Sunday school classes. For no money and certainly not for their own gratification, they get up every Sunday morning at the crack of dawn to invest in the lives and character of my two sons. Who does that? All I know is that I’m thankful they do. I’m thankful for the parents of Aidan and Ryan’s friends, and for each time that one of them compliments or praises, or gives constructive feedback to my boys. Who does that? They do that. I’m thankful for my friends Sean and Rebecca, who don’t even live here in Seattle, but took the time on a short visit to Seattle to go to 3 hours of kids soccer just to see Aidan and Ryan play and hang out with our community of parents cheering them on. I’m thankful for my brother who sends my kids books that he read as a kid and who calls them and knows them, I’m thankful for my sister who doesn’t’ hesitate to tell Aidan and Ryan that she loves them every time she is with them and tells them what she means to them, and I’m thankful for my sister who has made each of them a quilt with her own hands that will drape each of their beds every night and remind them that they are loved deeply. And, I’m thankful that we live close to all four of their grandparents who invest more deeply in them than you possibly imagine. And, that is only the start of hundreds of people who, for no good reason, sacrifice their own agenda to make it about the growth and development of my two sons.
A few days ago, I was tucking my sons into bed and telling them about my experiences playing little league soccer for the Queen Anne Jets. I played on that team from 2nd to 7th grade. It is all very near to me now because I coach Aidan and Ryan’s basketball soccer teams. My coach for all those years was Coach Jim Locke. As an adult looking back, I know he was a really good man. He had all the right makings of a great coach. Coach Locke was a stocky and very athletic looking guy. Maybe it’s because they were at eye level for me as a second grader, but I’ll never forget the strength of coach Locke’s calves. I remember thinking, “That’s what a soccer players calves should look like.” He always seemed happy and full of an inner joy. He was always very clear with us. While I knew he cared about me and my teammates very much, he never hesitated to get very stern with us if we were messing around. He was a teacher of the game. He taught us the fundamentals of what it means to play soccer well. He loved his son Wes. That was clear to each of us, but he treated us all as equals on that team. He was on time to practice. He stood in the sun, rain, hail, and snow to lead a bunch of kids on a community soccer team. And for no pay or praise beyond a thanks from a parent (kids aren’t that good at saying thank you sometimes), he invested in me as my coach for six years, and in other players for at least three years after that. Amazing…..
I just learned that Coach Locke passed away this last September. As a coach now, I see that Coach Locke taught me what it means to be a coach, a father, and a leader. I know now that God has His hand placed gently over the life and legacy of Jim Locke. I didn’t know that as a kid, but I was watching. He represents what I aspire to be as a father, a coach, and as an adult in this world of children and adults. He modeled for me what it means to invest deeply in the lives of others through your time with them. He didn’t have to be my Coach, but he chose to be. I’m thankful to you Coach Locke. We were paying attention.