UNSUNG HERO COACH DON AND THE CAMPBELLTON SPEED DEMONS
Unsung hero. I met him amongst the Demons.
Lesson learned, great first impressions start by listening to people who care about you.
I heard about them in the early sixties.
When I turned 15, I was possessed.
I joined a tribe of boys who met regularly.
We sought out groups to challenge.
We were fierce. We were unbeatable.
We were Speed Demons. Campbellton Speed Demons!
We played soccer!
Old Box Fresh Memories
The awesome memories of those soccer days came to life while unpacking boxes as Janet and I settled into our new digs.
With most of the boxes unpacked, Janet pointed to a large one in the corner. “That one is for you“. It was labelled Jeffrey’s Stuff – FRAGILE.
The top layer was memorabilia from school. A book of poetry I’d written. Umm. There seemed to be a theme; Irene, Jeannie, Aline, … I tucked it aside for further review over a glass of wine some winter’s eve.
The gold, as is always the case, had to be mined. It was at the bottom of the box.
An old blanket wrapped the jewel. A photo-journal and a glass case.
The photo-journal was of my soccer teammates. The glass case housed an autographed soccer ball, a 2000 Speed Demon Reunion pin, a Speed Demon hat, and a CD.
I remembered winning the soccer ball.
As part of a fund raiser at the 2000 Reunion, each of the players and the Coach autographed a soccer ball that was raffled. This is it.
I scanned the names.
Faces of the boys I played alongside flashed by; each with a smidgen of a memory.
He Turned Me Away
Then I came to that name. Lesson learned. An unsung hero’s leadership is not alway popular.
It was the name of a team member who turned me and another player away from a Saturday afternoon social.
It was the same person who sternly corrected me.
And the name of the guy whose house I stopped at late one Friday evening to apologize for having spoken harshly.
That name, that person, was our Coach.
His name was Don.
Donald Charles Hume.
Coach Don was a DJ at our local radio station.
He was not especially athletic.
He definitely was not a jock in the sense of 6 pack abs.
And, when not broadcasting, he was actually a quiet man.
Developing Leaders Coach Don Style
We played soccer.
He taught us accountability.
We played soccer.
He instilled in us a yes was a yes and our word a mirror of our character.
But the greatest lesson learned from Coach Don was that you didn’t have to be all-star, you didn’t have to be famous, you didn’t even have to be extraordinary to make a difference in someone’s life.
Following the 2000 reunion, Byron Christopher, a fellow Campbellton Speed Demon, wrote, “In every hamlet, every community, every city and megacity there are unsung heroes.”
Dictionary dot com defines unsung hero as a “person who makes a significant yet unrecognized contribution.”
Unsung heroes …
… are rarely at the front-of-the line;
… are almost never in the headlines.
They are often the first to arrive and the last to leave.
They’ll set up the tables, layout the chairs, make the coffee, take out the trash.
Unsung heroes… lift our spirits by what they say; encourage us by what they do.
He is the neighbor who wishes you good morning, have a great day, and mows your lawn when you are away.
She is the Sunday school teacher who faithfully shows up week-after-week.
She … is the personal care worker who quietly skips her break to sit with a lonely resident.
Plato, the Greek philosopher, argued “Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.”
Inspire, the root of the word inspiration, to influence or impel.
Not … compel.
You cannot compel creativity.
You cannot force greatness.
You cannot demand character.
Unbeatable Champion Team
But the voice that inspired lives was not the digitized, electronically filtered, perfectly modulated one.
It was the voice that encouraged and corrected out-of-caring.
Campbellton Speed Demons were an unbeatable champion team not because we were stacked with all of the better players.
We exceeded all expectations in winning because our Coach was steadfast and modelled what he expected. And that was simply to be the best that we could be, treat others with respect, and believe that what we do can make a difference.
That is the cornerstone of unsung heroes.
Unsung heroes encourage adventurers, embrace romantics, energize visionaries.
The voices of unsung heroes resonate through their action!
Boys become men of character; girls women of valor, when and only when the foundation of what they hear is supported by the action they see.
In all that you see the world today, it is a better place because one man gave all that he could and more so that a group of young boys would, in their lifetime, give all that they can and more.
We may not play soccer today, but we are Campbellton Speed Demons.
The legacy of Coach Don continues wherever we are.