Two years ago, after my 38th season in coaching, I retired. After laying out of football for a year, I joined Coach David Bailiff’s staff at Texas A&M University-Commerce. We had a ball. We went to the Elite 8 and finished ranked in the top 15 in NCAA D2.
Getting back into the coaching world, I wondered if I might be considered too old. It reminded me of the first day of class at a college, where the professor introduced himself and challenged the students to get to know someone in the class that they didn’t already know. A young male student was touched on the shoulder and as he turned around, he found an older wrinkled woman that was smiling and seemed so nice. She introduced herself and said she was 87 years old. Then she asked if she could give the young man a hug. The young man agreed, and she gave him a giant squeeze hug.
The young man asked her why she was in college. She jokingly said she was there to meet a rich husband, get married, have a couple of children and then retire and travel. Then she said, she always dreamed of having a college education.
For months, Betty walked the halls and campus and became a campus icon. She made friends wherever she went. At the end of the semester, the football team invited Betty to be the guest speaker at the annual football banquet. She was introduced and stepped to the podium. As she began to deliver her speech, she dropped her 3 by 5 cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and said she was sorry she was so jittery. She said she gave up beer for Lent and the whiskey was taking an effect on her. The crowd laughed as she cleared her throat and began her speech.
She said we do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only three secrets to staying young, being happy and achieving success. You must laugh and find humor every day, you’ve got to have a dream and when you lose your dreams you die. She continued saying there are so many people walking around who are dead and do not know it.
The elderly woman explained that there is a huge difference between growing older and growing old. A 19-year-old person can lie in bed for a year, turn 20, and not produce anything productive. She said she could lie in bed at 87 and turn 88 without doing anything productive. Anybody can grow older and that does not take any ability. The idea is to grow older by always finding a challenging opportunity and opportunities are made, not given.
Thought for the week:“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” — James Dean
Dr. Jack Welch is a college football coach. He holds a Doctor of Education degree and has been a college and high school football coach for 39 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.