This was the last thing I expected. When I came to 6 Stones, I brought nothing but a love for the community that raised me and a knack for the written word. Storytelling is my passion, and I'm blessed to be able to do it on a daily basis. I couldn't have asked for a more exciting job with a more exciting organization. Which is why it's amazing that I've been given the chance to do yet another thing that I love here.
I grew up playing soccer. From the age of six until my last year in high school — before I got too busy reading and writing in college to pretend that I could keep up with athletes on scholarship — the World's Game was mine. It was a weekly ritual, honed twice weekly and practiced every Saturday. It taught me discipline, respect and teamwork. Through the Bedford Euless Soccer Association's Doug McGrady Scholarship, it even paid for some of my college education. Soccer gave much more to me than I ever gave to it.
I doubt I hit even double-digit goals in my 10+ years of recreational soccer. I never played for a club and didn't make the cut at Trinity High School. As a perfectionist who was often praised (perhaps unduly) for the things at which I excelled, it was hard for me to accept failure. To be too slow, too unskilled to compete with other young men who worked harder and were more gifted than me. I have a mean competitive streak, and losing infuriates me. But soccer taught me how to handle it when I wasn't the best at something.
I was never the most skilled player on the field. Never even close. I had decent vision and a strong cross by the end of my career, but I was always a set-up man more than a playmaker. It was rare for me to have a good touch on the ball if it wasn't heading immediately toward another player when my purpose was achieved. I think I went 1-on-1 all of three times in the dozen or so years that I played. My best goal was meant to be an assist. On good days, I could play smart enough to keep up the players who were far more talented than me. On others, I learned a lot of humility and patience.
Soccer taught me to lose graciously, to win in humility and to rely on my team mates when my own abilities were insufficient. In soccer, as in life, it's exceedingly rare for any individual to succeed on their talent alone. It takes 11 players in the right places, a lot of discipline and a little luck. The soccer pitch is the world in miniature, and it had plenty of lessons for me. Soccer is a gift, and — assist-centric player that I am — I can't wait to pass it on.
6 Stones has been running an intramural soccer league in partnership with HEBISD since 2010, and this year I've been handed the reigns. I can't possibly express how exciting it is for me to call myself the “Commissioner,” even it's a self-proclaimed and largely ceremonial title. This league is my chance to give back to the game, to inspire other young men who, like me, love the sport enough to make it an integral part of their life. I guarantee that over 70% of them are already better players than me.
I hope that when the season ends they are better men than me, as well.
To help inspire them and to show that we mean business, we're re-branding the Intramural league in the style of a professional environment. We're calling it Liga HEB, and we can't wait for you to join us.