One early mid-summer Saturday morning, birds chirping, the sun just beginning its daily climb into the sky and not a single cloud to disrupt its journey – I met a very good friend for breakfast at Cracker Barrel. It is not my intent to romanticize the meeting but, the experience was joyful, memorable to say the least, and long overdue. I’ve known Bobby Pettigrew since I was a very little boy – he played P.A.L. football for my dad on the F. O. P. Chargers back in the day; I watched him play football for Kokomo, and then he coached me all four years of football in high school. Held within the mental scrapbook of my memories over the years, from playing ‘Madden’ on PS2 after practices, to watching him be inducted into the Howard County Sports Hall of Fame for his accomplishments in track; our relationship even with interaction few and far between has always been one of brotherly love.
As we approached the podium to be seated by the hostess, I heard Bobby ask, “Is Jan working this morning?” Obviously a friend of Bobby’s I just figured he wanted to make sure he took care of this person by asking to be seated in their area. Aside from the fact that this individual was an employee of the establishment, we were the ones being taken care of – without question beyond the call of duty. Jan, a seasoned waitress, is as sweet as they come; she took care of us as we began to speak, chit chat and discuss our matters. Breakfast was an event that morning, we had laughs – Jan even fed Bobby a piece of toast, all in good fun. It was a great start to the day. Over the course of an hour, Bobby and I reminisced about everything! He brought up the time we got into a heated argument on the basketball court at the Sports Center; and told me the competitive relationship he and his best friend Frankie Young, another Howard County Sports Hall of Famer, have still to this day. We spoke about the love for our community and seeing positive things happening. Our love for Kokomo athletics and being a part of impacting the youth is a passion that we both share.
Ever since that day, my mind has been stuck on one subject that came up in particular. Bob, in reference to an old lost and forgotten dream, said these words, “Like you had mentioned one day on Facebook, it was a dream of yours to play basketball or any sport at Kokomo. These days it’s just like a normal thing for kids to wear the uniform; they take it for granted never realizing it can be taken away at any time. Coming up we had a sense of pride, we loved hearing that music as the players ran out. Thinking all day long about a rival game that Friday night. It meant everything to us, where has that spirit gone? Where did that dream go?” Honestly – where did it go? Listen, many of you have dreams that go way beyond high school sports, and I will never be the one to tell you that you can’t fulfill those dreams, but the dream has to start now! I strongly believe – the lack of a dream by our younger generation is a direct result of the diminishing of values, that was once instilled into the older generation as the fundamental keys to success. Go for every dream that you have – but, before you begin your journey let me send you with some perspective.
I’ll do this in the form of asking you some very important questions: For those of you with hoop dreams – are you making it to every single open gym? Because that’s what dedication looks like! Do you have a ride prepared, if not, you got your walking shoes on headed out the door early enough to be there on time? Because that’s what promptness is about! Are you giving maximum effort every play, every day? Because that’s how you gain opportunity! How are your grades, are you just barely passing or are you putting forth real effort in the classroom? Because that’s how you become trustworthy! How are you treating your mother and your father, are you mouthing off and being disrespectful or kind and polite? Because that attitude reflects in the relationship with your coach! Do you act as if you’ve made great plays before, or are you showboating after every made shot? Because your humbleness or lack thereof leaves a lasting impression on everybody! Important!.. . Very important! I am here to tell you all of these things play a role in your success. How you act at home, the way you treat people, the effort that you put forth – all carry over into everything that you do! Set yourself apart.
Blessed to be a Blessing – JC Barnett III