Sunday, May 29, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

This time of year is often a somber day for me. It's filled with a plethora of emotions; pride, joy, sorrow, happiness, camaraderie, thankful, grateful. Sadly, it's also one of the days that tends to rub me wrong in some of the worst ways. I am reminded that I spent 4 years of my life away from friends, family, and familiar parts of Northern California in order for others to be blissfully ignorant of how good they really have it.

So what prompted me to write today? those same people who are blissfully ignorant of what has been sacrificed for their ability to party hard on Memorial Day. See, I had to run to Walmart earlier today and while I was there, I heard 5 different conversations. All of which included "Man, we are going to be so F*&^ing wasted tomorrow!". All the while PRAYING that I would hear one of them say "Just remember, we get to party because there are men and women who have given their lives for our right to have fun". Alas, I heard no such thing.

I have to be honest, I wanted to go slap the shit out of them and teach them a little bit about respect. They reminded me of the disrespectful punks who keep talking during the National Anthem, or who refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance, or who refuse to remove their hat or cover their heart while the Pledge or the National Anthem are being performed.

The other thing that chaps my ass is when I hear about celebrities condemning our troops fighting a war half way around the world. They are a different kind of beast of which have a special place reserved in hell... along with attorneys. But then, there is a glimmer of hope in the video below that helps me realize that there are great musicians who care about our troops and do what they can to support them. Gene Simmons, You sir are awesome! Enjoy the video!

After you watched this, please take one moment to just say a simple prayer or take a moment of silence to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our right to be a free country. God Bless America!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Politics and sports

I posted this remark and question on Facebook today:
from all the updates I've seen today about parents in RB who had kids who got nto the football team. I'm curious how many DIDN'T make the team. last time I heard, there were around 150 kids who didn't make it... Hey Jr. Spartans.... Time for an A&B team set up?

It reminded me of baseball tryouts and how some kids got on teams that were stacked and other teams were a case of the bad news bears... and even how some kids were picked to move up and others weren't. I remember time after time of going to tryouts and doing very well. I had practiced for hours each week during the off season and was determined to be the best player I could be. Oh how naive I was then....

It also reminded me of High School soccer tryouts. kind of similar story... The coach had his favorites... I ran a faster mile and a half, I was quicker at the 40 meter dash, I was able to jump higher, and easily defended more shots on goal. This was my freshman year. I didn't make the team. chalk it up to politics and favoritism and not wanting to be on the rookie. I get it.

Sophomore year, same story. exchange student from Brazil and a new coach and wanted to make it look good having a foreign exchange student. He reminded me of Jorge Campos. Flashy goalie, but not effective at actually keeping the ball from going in the net.

Junior year... same coach, but one of his sons was trying out... who was 6 inches shorter, slower, and just plain sucked. Yeah, you've found one of the Nice Guy's weaknesses. politics in sports. Honestly, the first two years I was able to chew it up and swallow my frustration. It hurt more knowing the team won one game that year. It also made it hurt less as I sat at each game and snickered to myself as they got slaughtered.

Recap: Freshman through junior year, soccer teams were chosen based on politics.

And then my senior year came around... We had a coach that was actually a soccer player, played for Chico State, and knew the game inside and out. Regardless of whether I made the team or not, I knew I had put in outrageous amounts of work into being in the best shape ever. I searched high and low for tips and tricks of how to be a better goalie, and to understand the game. I learned and practiced Plyometrics, I started running long distance, I did weightlifting. When I wasn't in school or attending church, I had a soccer ball with me. Come hell or high water, I was going to make the team my senior year.

Tryouts arrive and sure enough, some of the "chosen ones" made their jokes "Hey, is JD going to set the record for most tryouts and not make the team" kind of crap. At that moment, I knew I was going to show them up. I could have played any position and beat them. both in ball skills and endurance. I worked my ass off and I planned on showing it. And whaddya know? Having an intelligent coach and a year's worth of hard training paid off. I was starting goalie for every game that season. In the toughest loss of the season, I actually set a league record for the most saves in a game... 47. We lost 1-0 to Pleasant Valley. And at the end of the year, I was awarded All League Goalie by the coaches of the league.

So, the question of the hour is this: Should returning players have to tryout? How should perceived favoritism be handled? And most importantly... what should parents tell their kids when they don't make the team?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

the Yang #military #loss

This afternoon, after spending time helping with the Special Olympics, I came home and read about a man from a town just north of me named Redding who was serving in the Military overseas in Afghanistan. This is the third soldier in our community who has lost their life.

As a Veteran, American, and Citizen of the USA, my heart cries with sadness to hear about another young life lost to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. As I read the story about this young man, my heart broke for the mom and wife he left back home. At the same time, my heart swelled with pride as I read that he went back to Afghanistan early to be with his unit. His devotion to this country is unquestionable. The price he paid doesn't have a dollar sign attached to it.

I am attending the funeral Thursday afternoon in support of his family. In fact, as I am writing this, the local news channel just posted this on Facebook: "Want to show your support for Preston Dennis' family? We are handing out American flags for you to wave as Dennis' body is taken from McDonalds Chapel to the Vets Cemetary in Igo on Thursday. Flags are free to the first 400 who come to our station on Auditorium Dr. in Redding, Wednesday from 8-5pm. Hope to see you!"

I will be there to support the family, honor a fallen brother in arms, and show my respect for those who have paid the ultimate price for our nation. This man gave his life for every right we have today as an American. Please take a moment and say a prayer for this fallen soldier and his family.

Take a moment to thank anyone you know who is serving or has served. Take a moment to tell your family you love them. While we still have this privilege, there are those who don't. May this fallen soldier RIP and may God bring peace to their lives and hearts.

the Yin #parenting #joy

This morning I was blessed to have the chance at helping out the local Special Olympics. When I was in Jr. High and High School, I was able to help out Developmentally Disabled kids on a regular basis. I was able to come to their classroom, play games, go for walks, and just spend some quality time with them.

I remember how much it would anger me when other kids would make such horrible remarks towards these kids. I remember how they would mock them with their words and actions. Most importantly, I remember the unconditional love and forgiveness that permeated from their body. No matter how many taunts, jokes, pranks, or mean words were slung at them, they went about their day loving every person that came across their path.

I remember the first time I realized how jealous I was of these kids. I was jealous because they somehow neglected to notice those foul beings who made fun of them. I was jealous that these kids were able to love any and every person with whom they met. I remember wishing that I could have that ability.

Today, I got to spend a couple hours helping put on the hoop shoot and soccer shoot booth for the Elks Lodge. I got to see at least a thousand smiling faces having the times of their lives. I got to celebrate something that I take for granted on a regular basis. I was able to shoot the basketball and kick the soccer ball with all of these kids, high five them every time they shot the ball or kicked it. I found myself on more than a few occasions choking up a little bit because I was reminded that there are people in the world who are pure of heart, who only want to love. I was shown that there is joy in everything in life. I saw a community of people who love each other and only want the best for each other.

I watched this video a couple years ago. I remember crying so hard because I've seen people act the same way as described and I didn't stand up or say anything. I cried because I didn't defend the defenseless. Take 5 minutes and watch this video. I promise it will be worth your while.