Growing up in Flagstaff, Arizona I spent my fair share of time on the football practice field and I learned quite a few life lessons there – along with making a few great friends.
It was on that practice field where I got my first life-lesson that sometimes in life things just happen and that you can’t control things so that everything goes as planned.
The practice field has a great location and view and is situated just to the southwest of the main road to the Grand Canyon where you can see the almost-constant stream of traffic headed toward the Grand Canyon from the field.
One day, we were out playing around on the field before practice and all of the sudden we heard screeching tires and what-sounded-like-an explosion of metal and glass being blown up.
Not 100 yards from the field, there was a truck that got broad-sided by an oncoming car as the truck was pulling out on to the busy road.
“Hey, isn’t that Coach Vitt’s truck?” someone asked.
We all spent the next 10 minutes wondering if one of our assistant coaches was the driver of the truck that had just been involved in the metal and glass collision explosion.
Soon all of the rest of the coaches showed up for practice and they pulled us all away from the fence and got practice going as usual. They told us the usual “keep your mind of football” stuff and tried to keep us from watching the fire trucks and ambulances as the rescue workers did their thing.
We really couldn’t see exactly what was going on for the next 30 minutes or so because the emergency vehicles had managed to park in such a way that we couldn’t see anything from the field.
So I will never forget standing in a huddle, looking up and seeing Coach Vitt walk in-between two fire trucks, across the street, hop the practice field fence and walk over to the huddle.
Everyone on the field stopped what they were doing and just stared at him as he walked over.
Finally one of the head coaches broke the silence:
“Coach Vitt, are you okay?”
And I won’t forget his reply:
“Yeah, I am fine but my truck is completely totaled so I am going to need a ride home tonight. What can I say… life happens!”
And so it was.
In that one single moment, about 50 teenagers standing on a field in football helmets learned a valuable life lesson:
It isn’t how many times you get knocked down.
It isn’t what kind of bad things happen along the road of life.
It is all how you react to them.