Student of the Game

by Larry Hehn on October 31, 2012

student of the game“Yep, Bird is a student of the game,” Chappy said as we sat around the campfire. It was probably the highest compliment he could give to someone.

When I was in my 20’s and early 30’s, sports dominated my life. Hockey in the winter, softball in the summer. League play during the week, tournaments on weekends. My Dad coached both teams. It was a great bunch of guys.

Many of my hockey teammates were also my softball teammates.  Some were pretty good athletes, having played Junior A hockey and semi-pro baseball. The rest of us who had plenty of heart but not as much talent, looked to them for leadership both on and off the field.

One of our unlikely leaders was named Dave, but everybody called him Bird. He was gangly, all knees and elbows when he ran. He had a warped sense of humor and was socially awkward. But man, could he play.

He studied the other team and knew where they were most likely to hit. He knew where their strengths and weaknesses were on the field. He knew how hard or soft the field was, and how the ball was likely to bounce or roll. He knew how the wind would affect a fly ball. He always knew the score, the count, how many were out, and where the baserunners were.

Even when he wasn’t on the field, he was in the game.

One Saturday night, as we gathered around a campfire at an out-of-town tournament, some of us started commenting about Bird’s unusual intensity. One of our other leaders, Chappy, remarked, “Yep, Bird is a student of the game.”

I had never heard that expression used before, but it was so appropriate. And it was probably the highest compliment that Chappy could give to someone.

The best teachers I have ever had were also students. They knew they had not arrived, but were always learning and applying themselves.

No matter what your field, no matter what your discipline – there will always be more to study, more to learn, more to apply, more to share.

I hope I never come to think that I’ve arrived in any discipline, especially my faith. I hope and pray that I’ll always be…a student of the game.

Are you a student of the game?

“When you’re green, you’re growing. When you’re ripe, you rot.” – Ray Kroc

“I’m not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way.  I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you.” – George Bernard Shaw

“Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.” – Luke 6:40

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. – Philippians 3:12-14

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