The other night, the coaches, parents, and players of my son Grant’s second grade football team took a “field trip” to watch a high school football game. We arrived early, received a special tour of the weight room, and picked out a section of seats that would allow them the perfect view. This group of 2nd grade football players were excited to see a high school football game and cheer for the players wearing jerseys that they just might one day don. They also were excited to see Grant’s older brother Will play in the game.
They asked Grant what Will’s number was, and Grant's teammates spontaneously began to chant his number. This seemed a little impersonal, so they chanted his last name even louder. “VAN HOOZER! VAN HOOZER! VAN HOOZER!” Thinking Will and his other teammates couldn’t hear their cheers, this group of football players wearing their team jerseys went down closer to within talking distance of the team on the sidelines.
Again, the chants of “VAN HOOZER! VAN HOOZER!” rang out. His teammates began to turn around and also make Will aware of his cheering section. When Will turned around and acknowledged them, the cheers and chants exploded even louder.
The game was good, but this show was even better! At the end of the game, Grant and his teammates ran down to where the players walk to the locker room. They gave high fives to the bigger high school players as they walked through and gave another roaring version of “VAN HOOZER!” when Will walked by the group. I am sure Will’s teammates gave him a hard time about this later in the locker room.
After all of the players and coaches had walked through this ad-hoc procession line, one player remained – Number 56. His head was down, and he didn’t look like he had played in the game. He looked up and saw that a “team” of players was waiting for him and he began to walk a little faster. As he approached this group of eager 2nd graders, a spontaneous shout of “56! 56! 56!” echoed across the parking lot. No one told them to do it, but somehow they knew he needed it. I don’t think anyone had cheered for him all night, but his smile and expression spoke volumes about the way he felt after he walked through this line of encouragers!
As you travel through this day, who are you encouraging? Who do you have in your life that is encouraging you? Finally, who is the “56” in your life that may not immediately come to mind, but is in your story for a reason and needs you to say something that will inspire them to pursue their potential.
Seek out opportunities to lift others up by your words and actions. If you are really brave, you might even create a cheering section for someone and begin to chant their name as they walk by today!