Find Hope

Devastated by my little league coach.

Sal got to me and he looked dead at me and said; “That kid’s a cry baby. He quit last year, I don’t want him.”

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At five I had a traumatic deal. My Dad decided he liked other women outside of my Mom more than he liked us. So he left us. My Mom worked three jobs. At seven, I decided I wanted to play football. I went up to the park which was probably two or three hundred yards away from our house. Basically try outs were that they put you on a team. I was with a guy named Sal. He was kind of like the kingpin coach down there. So I turned, I grabbed the ball and I ran around to the end. I thought I had done good. I thought I had done really good. Nobody touched me. I was in the end zone. Sal had a safari hat. That’s what postmen used to wear a long time ago. Listen, I’m fifty years old and it seems like yesterday. This tells you what seeds in your life, how long they last with you. Sal threw that hat at me and he called me some names. Guys I went through agony, misery and heartbreak at Fort Knox Kentucky going through basic and I had drill sergeants that didn’t talk to me that way. But it took a kid that’s countenance was up and it dropped me. I was devastated. I cried. I can remember it like it was yesterday. My Dad had abandoned us. Now, the next guy in my life I looked up to was a mailman who was a football coach. He had abandoned me. Another year goes by and I wanted to really play football. I went and talked to my Mom. She made it real clear; “you cannot quit”. I said; “I’m not going to quit.” They send us back down there and they lined us up on this wall. When they line you up, the coaches stand out front. I’m not real smart but I can count. I looked out there and you go here, you go there, you go here…I’m going to go to Sal again. I was a little nervous. I went from being on top of everything to being nervous. Sal got to me and he looked dead at me and said; “That kid’s a cry baby. He quit last year, I don’t want him.” He said it that loud. A kids head that was up here dropped a little bit. Well, Sal’s kingpin coach and the next two guys they want to be kingpin. So, they don’t want a cry baby either. So they come out and say it. By that time, my heads dropped and my world is kind of breaking up. That’s when God kind of stepped in. Not kind of, He did. This twenty seven year old guy named Antonio (he was a Cuban refugee), he walked over and put his arm around my shoulder and said; “Buddy, you can play with me.” I went from being rejected, I had already been abandoned by my Dad and then Sal and been put back then this guy comes from out of nowhere. He’s a Cuban refugee. This guy doesn’t have any kids and he says; “You can play with me.” I told you, I mentioned earlier that we lived close to the field. Three hundred yards. Every day, he would come and pick me up. He had a green El Camino. He had this girlfriend named Gina. I can remember him. He never said anything to me about football. He always asked me how my Mom was doing. He asked me if I was doing my school work, if I was staying up and taking care of my brother. I had a younger brother. He made a big difference in my life. The first man that ever uh, he taught me how to shake hands. Look a man in the eye when you talk to him. He was the first man who ever prayed with us. He prayed with us everyday. Eight years old, I was with him for a season of football. That was it. Now I have been dealing with kids for twenty five years. I have had the chance to lead a bunch of them to Christ. I have been able to pray with literally over two thousand young men that didn’t have hope. That didn’t have anybody that cared, didn’t have anybody that would stand in the gap for them. That seed that Antonio planted in 1972-1973 is alive and well. It’s been propagated. God has used it.

Ned - Devastated by my little league coach.

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