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Bettering Others and the World You Live In

The Bounce of the Ball

the bounce of the ball

Sometimes the bounce of a ball can determine our futures.  Something or someone redirects our journeys.  It Interceders our lives. 

Basketball vs Wrestling

I grew up playing multiple sports.  Up until my seventh-grade year, I played football and baseball.  That year, I picked up a basketball for the first time.  I caught onto the game quickly and enjoyed playing it.

In eighth grade, through PE class, I got into the sport of wrestling.  I caught onto that sport quickly as well and enjoyed participating in it. 

That eighth-grade year, I was able to play both. 

When I got to high school the following year, I had to choose one or the other.  The easiest way to decide was to try out for basketball and see if I made it.  I didn’t have to try out to be on the team, just compete for a spot on the junior varsity or varsity lineup.  The bounce of the ball would decide which one for me. 

While I took to the game quickly, I was far from a great basketball player.  Honestly, it surprised me to see my name posted on the roster the day final cuts were made…basketball it was.

My season went about as good as you would expect someone’s who didn’t expect to make the team.  I spent most of my time sitting on the bench!  Most practices consisted of me shooting baskets off to the side disengaged from the team.  The coach didn’t engage me much in practice and clearly didn’t believe in me. 

Coach Jacobs

Towards the end of the season, our coach wasn’t at practice one day.  One of the Varsity Coaches, Coach Van Jacobs came down to run practice that day.  He ran a completely different practice.  It was engaging.  He pushed us, he taught us, he invested in us.  For the first time, I felt engaged, it was my best practice of the season.

He gave me the opportunity, and I took advantage of it.  Even though it was just practice, he believed in me enough to give me a shot and took the time to invest in me.  Both, extremely valuable things to a young person. 

For the first time that season, I finally felt like the bounce of the ball went in my favor.      

Getting Cut

On the last day of school my Freshman year, I stopped by Coach Jacobs room to get some information on the team camp that summer.  He had suggested that if I wanted to play as a sophomore, it would be good for me to be there.

Well…I didn’t take his advice and go to camp.  I didn’t improve my skills over the summer and you guessed it…my name was not on that list next year.  I got cut.

Anytime you make a team one year and get cut the next, it’s disappointing and embarrassing.  This time, the bounce of the ball did not go in my favor. 

Returning to Wrestling

I ended up playing recreation basketball the rest of my sophomore year.  The following year as a Junior, I came to grips with the fact that I was a mediocre basketball player at best.  Unfortunately, I would not be the next Michael Jordan!  I traded my basketball sneakers for a pair of wrestling shoes and returned to the mat. 

My first year back, I wrestled varsity.  The bounce of the ball went in my favor again. 

While this was a big achievement with a two-year layoff, it was also a humbling experience.  I was competing against wrestlers who not only had wrestled the last two years, but several years before that.  Most of all of them had already had varsity level experience as well. 

I lost way more than I won.  The bounce of the ball was not going my way again.      


I have told this story publicly twice.  The first was when I was inducted in into the North Cobb High School Athletics Hall of Fame…as a wrestler.  I would go on to become Captain of the team my senior year and compete at a high level. 

As I was making my comments at the induction, I peered out over the crowd and saw Coach Jacobs standing in the back.  Without preparation, I shared this story with the audience.  I don’t even think I had ever connected the dots until that moment. 

I took the opportunity to thank Coach for believing in me that day at practice.  But, I also took the opportunity to thank him for cutting me from the basketball team.  I literally would have never been standing there if it wasn’t for his decision to do so.

Wrestling significantly impacted my life.  It taught me discipline, humility, perseverance, resilience, toughness, and grit.  My life was forever impacted because of the sport of wrestling interceding in my life.  If it wasn’t for Coach Jacobs, it may have never happened. 

The second time I shared this story was at one of our council meetings a few months ago.  Coach Jacob’s health was fading and we were honoring his service as a member of our planning and zoning commission and the impact that he had on thousands of young people as a teacher and coach. 

Coach passed away last week.  He was a good man, a great educator, and a legendary coach.  He was an interceder in the Acworth community.  It reminded me of this story and how it impacted my life.  I wanted to share it with each of you. 

Here is a closing thought.  In life, the ball will bounce.  It may be either our own doing or circumstances that are beyond our control.  The big lesson for all of us is to make sure we bounce back.  A life with no bounce is no life at all.             

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