Passing Opportunity

When I was about eleven years old, I played little league football. I weighed a little more than some of the other kids my age; mom said I was big-boned. Being over a certain weight, however, meant I was relegated to play on the offensive and defensive lines. This status was known as a 'patchman' because we had to wear a patch on the sleeve of our jersey to symbolize our hefty status. Though I enjoyed playing the role of a lineman reasonably well, my real interest was playing quarterback. When I played in less formal neighborhood games, quarterback was my usual position and I really hoped that one day I would be able to demonstrate my passing talents to the little league team. I figured I could ultimately overcome my patch obstacle when the time came.

I remember arriving at practice one crisp autumn afternoon. The golden sunlight of the day's end lit the park as my teammates stretched and went through some practice drills. As I approached, our punter let loose a wild kick sending the ball a few feet in front of me. I looked at the ball and saw the opportunity I had been waiting for! I felt like all eyes were on me to witness this defining moment in my budding football career as I picked up the pigskin. Instead of dropping my helmet from the other hand to give my full attention to the pass, however, I held on to it as I knew I could easily make the throw even with the extra baggage. With everyone looking on, and my helmet remaining a fixture to my right arm, I cocked back my throwing arm. As I stepped into the pass, the helmet made its weight known to me, and threw me off balance. I released the ball, sending it up in the air where it wobbled in a shallow arc and dropped like a lame-duck with a muted thud on the grass, a mere three-quarters of the way to my intended receiver. The team and coaches quickly turned their attention back to their original business and I cursed myself under my breath as I continued my shameful walk to join the team. I had missed my opportunity.

Since then, I realize that life is an endless stream of opportunities. In order to capitalize on them, I have to first recognize them, as some doors aren't always as obvious as others. I have also learned that in order to succeed, I must always give my full attention and effort in all that fuels my passion.