By Scott M Schoettgen
WR at Willamette University
As many of you know, I spent a few weeks in Costa Rica this summer with Ryan Bourke and a study abroad program that is designed to allow athletes to study abroad, train, and share their love for sports with kids in other countries. The mission is to connect the world through sports. Working with these kids for the brief time that I did was one of the most impacting things I have ever done recently, not only for them, but also for myself. I attached a short reflection piece I wrote while I was in the airport on my way home. I'm sharing it because I think perspective and respect for what you have are invaluable pieces to success, however you define it. So if you're interested, have a look and feel free to let me know if it sparks any thoughts of your own. The experience I describe will be a reminder to myself of how fortunate we all are to tie up our cleats every day and go to work with each other. So take a look if you like.
Love you guys,
Nostalgic in the Airport
At 4:30 in the morning I am tired, a little spaced out, but none the less inspired by my time spent in Costa Rica, down to the very waning moments in the airport. Yesterday I almost cried at the sight of a young Costa Rican boy carrying a football down the street in one of the poorest neighborhoods in San Jose. At this moment, on this special afternoon, there was nothing poor about this kid. Under any other circumstances, I would have continued walking on with my day without acknowledging the significance of what I just witnessed, it’s just a boy with a ball, but today this was this kid’s first time holding the very object that I have dedicated the majority of my recent years to catching week in and week out. This was this kid’s first football.
Just an hour prior, this boy was one of about 60 children who attended Beyond’s first day of youth sports camps, and he was one of the kids who I had the opportunity to share some rudimentary football knowledge with. The simple things like positions, how to throw a football semi-properly, and how to release all aggression onto a four-foot tall, yellow tackling bag, all things which I have for too long just accepted as the mundane and obvious pieces of my sport, took on much bigger forms with what I experienced yesterday afternoon.
As this boy ran up the street holding his football with more pride and enjoyment than any teammate or competitor carrying the same ball ever would, he saw my fellow athletes and coaches walking in the opposite direction on the other sidewalk. The only connection that he had to us was the ball he held in his hand, and the acknowledgement, which he made from across the street by yelling in joy and stopping just short of throwing his new ball threw traffic to us, that myself, Ryan Bourke, Ryan Belcher, and Grant Leslie were the ones who had taught him how to use one. But, that connection was strong enough to have more impact on me than any other single moment in my recent recollection. The joy that child had running down the street, with holes in his shoes that let his bare toes poke through onto the sidewalk surface, his smile almost painfully stretched across his face from ear to ear, will carry more emotional influence than any single run, catch, tackle, or other such big play made by myself or any teammate on any team I’ve ever been on. This moment gratifies every intention to share the sport I love with the kids who may have otherwise never touched a football in their lives.
Throughout my life, my experiences with sports have mitigated the most trying times and most difficult personal experiences. My commitment to teams, teammates, and my own career has helped place me in the most advantageous positions for my own personal advancement, and now I have the ability to share that love with kids internationally. A single football and a positive influence have the power to be a foundation for the same life full of fulfillment. This is just one instance enlightening the power of sports. Yesterday, that boy on the street in Costa Rica was the richest man alive.