Steps

I wanted to write about steps and how taking just one, can change your entire world.

Two summers ago my youngest son was rowing and beginning to work out regularly. He took to the weights and regimen like a fish to water. His body took to them as well. Within a short time he completely transformed his frame of 140 with little muscles to 180 with huge Popeye ones, and this is when my oldest son told him that rowing was a waste of his talent and time and that he should be playing football instead.

In life, all it takes is one person to see a bigger vision for you than you are capable of, and your entire world can change. This person, or maybe if you’re lucky, a few more, believes in you and your ability so strongly, that you inevitably start to believe too.

With these words, spoken by his big brother, the football journey began. Most people would not even ponder the idea of taking this first step (especially with no prior experience), let alone the ones he did.

The only playing of the sport he had ever done was in the front yard and maybe tossing it at school once in awhile at recess. Still, he committed to the path and took that first step of going out for the team in the 9th grade. You can imagine how other kids viewed him and were so quick to put him down. Our town is mean, rather the people are, and I am looking forward to moving, but that’s another blog.

We went to all of his games and watched his team be beaten down at every one. They literally had 5 plays and the same 5 kids they put in for every position. He managed to get in a few times but it was futile and he felt defeated in all aspects of the sport.

If this path were to continue, further steps needed to be taken. So…I went on Max Preps and researched schools. This is what I do! I’m a dreamer, but more than that, I am a person who takes steps towards those dreams, else they are merely fantasies.

I found so many schools in Texas and South Carolina, but none in New York. I began to ponder the idea of boarding school for him but the schools looked scary that were rated high for football and he is my baby, so that wasn’t going to happen. I actually started to look at properties in Texas and South Carolina, but as I did more research, I found a school in New Jersey he could commute to.

I ticked that box and went on line to the school website. It was overwhelming. An essay, an interview, testing to get in and of course, a private tuition. Did I mention it was all boys and religious?

He didn’t care! So I wrote letters, called, called again. Wrote more letters until someone wrote me back and found out I had made the deadline to apply for the next year. He did everything they asked of him, including an essay about football and Jesus and we waited and waited for a letter to arrive.

When it finally did, he hesitated, knowing this letter would determine next steps. They would either lead to the doorway of this school and its interview process or back to the school he was currently at until we could come up with another path because giving up on his dream was not an option.

Luck was on his side. Or fate, I’m not sure. Every now and then people deserve a break and he got one. He was invited in for the next step in the process.

We took the train together that day knowing what was at stake. The only other option was to move and my middle son was still at home in his senior year. It was overwhelming and I couldn’t allow myself to think about it. He not only had to do well on his interviews, he had to test well to gain one of the 12 spots that were open. Over 300 kids had applied that year (record numbers I was told), because another religious school had closed.

We were there for hours. I heard the morning prayer, stood for the pledge of allegiance, saw students come and go in their uniforms and watched him walk by a few times from office to office. He was in a suit but quickly lost the tie around hour two.

When he finally finished around noon, we took the many steps back to the Path train and began our way back home. He talked about his interviews, feeling as though he had blown one and then didn’t say much on the Long Island Rail Road (the other part of our commute).

It was tough. I could see how bad he wanted this. Sometimes we want something so bad and we don’t do anything about it, but this kid was doing everything he could.

Within two weeks he received another letter. He was at school and my middle son was home. He convinced me to open it, just in case. So we did. We both screamed with joy when we read that he had been accepted. I texted him with a photo of the welcome letter and he screamed with joy when he got it. I know this, because he told me hugged the kid he was walking with he was so happy.

None of us had any idea what it actually meant though. At the time the football team at this particular school was number 1 in the state. I think they rank high in all their sports, and there are over 18 of them. The 5 plays he learned at his old school were replaced by the over 100 at his new one. Yes, 100! It was like learning a new language, but one he committed to by writing them on index cards that he studied every chance he could. To be number 1 in anything means you have to commit and his team takes commitment very seriously.

And so does he! This is why it’s the perfect place for him. He has never once complained about the workouts, the practices, the schoolwork or the commute. And while he is not commuting at present, he still commits to the workouts at the gym he uses here. He also works out with a football trainer in New Jersey every weekend, who is as inspiring as they come.

The progress he has made is astonishing! He has learned the footwork, the ball handling and the speed. But there is always another step to take. A different diet, heavier weights, faster footwork, turning a leg this way, a hand over here, his body forward. I hear him as he watches the video recording of himself from practice.

Footwork is so important in football. Good footwork gives a player agility and reduces injury. It is essentially the same reason why we take steps in life or don’t.

The steps we take determine our outcome. And while some people are so afraid of failing or being hurt that they do not take any steps towards what they want, they actually fail to realize they have already been defeated.

Whatever you want, is merely a step away. So the question remains…which direction are you heading in or are you even moving at all?