by Melodie Davis
for release August 11, 2000
The Power Of A Dream
A little boy in the first grade had learning problems. He confused the letters b and d and turned around the numbers 6 and 9. Rodney became so frustrated that one day he just sat at his desk, put his head down, and bawled. Even a first grade boy knows it is not cool to be caught crying. A girl asked him what was the matter. He was frustrated enough to admit, "I need some help." The little girl helped him solve the problem that was frustrating him.
Time went on and he continued to have great difficulty in school. By fourth and fifth grades, he was regularly pulled out of the classroom for extra help with his studies. Some of the other students asked, "Why do you leave the classroom?"
Rodney replied, "Well I'm a little smarter than everyone else so I go to a different teacher."
He continued struggling through high school. As the question of college neared, he took the SAT and ACT tests, but didn't do well. His guidance counselors took him aside. "Rodney," they advised, "You don't have to go to college. Why don't you go to trade school?"
But Rodney had a dream of going to college and becoming a teacher. He wanted to coach. He could play football, but he wanted to teach.
Rodney ignored the advice of his counselors and went on to graduate from college. In his first year as head coach, he took his high school football team all the way to the state final game for their division. Anyone who has done that knows how difficult it is, how many things have to go right in a season and in each game.
More importantly, Coach Rod Bowers of Broadway High School, Broadway, Va., gave his team something far more important than a great ride and memories to last a lifetime. He gave the team, the school, and for many in the small, rural community, a glimpse of how important it was to believe in themselves. He advises the young people he coaches and mentors, "Find a dream to hang on to." This year he was asked to speak at an academic banquet honoring middle schoolers for something he never achieved himself: all A's for the whole year. He gave the children (and their parents) seven tips for succeeding at their dreams. With his permission, "in case it can be an inspiration to anyone else" (said Bowers) I share them here:
1. Have faith and trust in God. Coach Bowers unashamedly gives tribute to the motivating force in his life.
2. Set goals for yourself. Write down a set of daily goals and long range/future goals. Bowers puts them on his bedroom mirror, where he sees them every day. That way when you get up in the morning and you really just feel like crawling back into bed, you are faced with your goals. You pull up your trousers, and go on.
3. Dream the impossible. He said that some would say that just sets you up for failure. "Baloney," says Bowers. "Failure comes when we set our goals too low."
4. Surround yourself with good people you can count on. Friends, family, teachers.
5. Perform out of your comfort zone. Do something that stretches you, or you will never get anywhere.
6. Do things you are passionate about. You need to have passion for success.
7. Don't ever ever ever give up.
Coach Bowers is truly a mentor of young people. One of my daughters participated in track this past spring for the first time and Coach Bowers helped officiate the meets. At her first meet, he came by the nervous novices and told them to relax, that they could do it. When she finished her race in second-to-last place, he came over and said, "See, I said you could do it." Frequently he would give them a nugget for the day, like "Before you go to bed tonight, tell someone that you love them."
Using these tips and attitudes towards life, you may not succeed at all your dreams, but I can guarantee you several things: you'll go further than you would otherwise; you'll learn something new about yourself and other people; and you'll probably enjoy life a whole lot more.
Write to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail: Melodie@mennomedia.org.
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from a number of organizations including the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three growing daughters.
NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 735 words; end material = 105 words
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