Written By Dalton Ruer
You have to admit the sky in the photo is absolutely superb. It has it all. Light and dark, clouds and clear sky. Bursting with all of the colors of a rainbow. What I love most of all. The one thing about the photo that I’m most thankful for is the person behind the camera. You see without them I wouldn’t be able to see this image. Without them you wouldn’t be enjoying the image.
Which brings me to my next point about EXCELLENCE … it has to be recognized. You can’t possibly exude an EXCELLENCE that you can not even recognize. Whether you recognize it in nature like this or you recognize it in others you can only emulate the world through the lenses with which you see.
Eventually I’m going to talk about the young ladies in the photo, but for now simply look at them enough to understand that a practice is clearly underway. So who do you suppose has the right to be on the field during a practice and would be able to take this lovely photo showcasing the EXCELLENCE in the sky and also would have the permission to take the time to snap it? 8’th string pitcher? Red shirted freshman on crutches? Graduate assistant perhaps?
Would it surprise you to know that this photo was taken by the teams head coach? Does it seem odd that a coach would take valuable time away from one of the team’s very first practices to walk into the outfield and take this photo? What message is she sending to her team that she would walk away from them just to take a picture?
If you knew this head coach it wouldn’t surprise you a bit. Her name is Tina Whitlock and believe me she knows a thing or two about EXCELLENCE. She was a 2 time All-American at The University of South Carolina, played for the USA Women’s Softball team for 3 years and played a season of professional softball for the Durham Dragons prior to going into coaching.
When I asked Coach Whitlock for permission to use this photo for my series on EXCELLENCE her response was simple “Please use it. I love capturing … get this … GOD’S WORK AT MY FIELD.” Willing to bet that this is the same message she intended to pass on to her players. Willing to be that is exactly why she would take time away from talking or leading and simply help direct her players towards something of EXCELLENCE. If her goal as a coach was just to “convey information” to her players they’d never leave the field. She isn’t looking to build smart/informed/knowledgable players and isn’t really interested in players just being busy on the field. She is trying to build EXCELLENT players and EXCELLENT women.
In my career I’ve worked with hundreds and hundreds of players. As I approached the keyboard for this particular post one player in particular from my past jumped into my head. I had gone to a ballgame to see one of my students competing in 10U and while my student batted wonderfully, what stood out for me from the day was when the second basemen for her team made a phenomenal play. An EXCELLENT play. Well next thing I know this bubbly little 10 year old came sprinting from deep in center field to second base to congratulate her teammate and then sprinted back. Clearly for her the traditional “Great job” yelled across the field simply wasn’t going to do. She wanted to show her teammate that she truly recognized the EXCELLENCE in the play. After the game I introduced myself to this young lady, Alaina Danielle Hall, and her family and told her/them how remarkable I thought her action was. I wanted her to know that I recognized her EXCELLENCE in team building. Over the years I’ve been blessed, truly blessed, to watch this amazing young woman that is now playing ball at Elon University grow. Through all of the changes of her youth and in all of the team changes that took place she never lost the ability, the simple ability to recognize the EXCELLENCE in others and never had a problem demonstrating it in big ways.
Coaches are you spending so much time trying to convey information that you are missing opportunities to point out the EXCELLENCE that is right in front of you?
Coaches are you building an environment in practice that “things” have to get done or are you fostering an environment where players can take the time to truly recognize the EXCELLENCE in others, and in themselves?
Players when was the last time you took the time to truly demonstrate that you recognize the EXCELLENCE of those around you?
Players are you so focused on taking lots of reps that you’ve lost the focus on hitting 1 ball with EXCELLENCE?
If you want to demonstrate EXCELLENCE then be sure you are first recognizing it. Whether it be God’s handiwork or the lives and actions and plays and behaviors of those around you.
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