By Alan S. Cureton, Ph.D., President
President Cureton played football during his four years as an undergraduate at Sterling College (Kan.). This is one particular practice he’ll never forget.
One day, during the middle of the football season, a lengthy and strong rainstorm saturated the practice field. The rain continued to fall as we began practice. As you can imagine, the practice field was a pool of mud. The protocol of every practice required our team to be out, dressed and ready before the coaches would emerge from the locker room, thereby signaling the start of practice.
As the rain fell and picked up in intensity, our practice gear was drenched. The players huddled close together to try to stay warm even though we were shivering, wet and discouraged. Some players were already complaining that we had to practice in this terrible weather. Tempers escalated as team members tried to encourage each other to make the most of the situation. Yet, amidst all the words of positivity, we were convinced this practice would be drudgery and useless.
While we were voicing our objections, we heard the loud blast of an air horn coming from the locker room. Sprinting out of the locker room was our head coach. Right behind him were all the assistant coaches, in a perfect line, in a dead sprint. The head coach ran toward us at full speed veering off at the last second and performed a perfect belly flop into a pool of water and mud. Right behind him, one by one, the assistant coaches followed his lead. As each assistant coach hit the mud, the head coach cheered, applauded and affirmed each assistant.
We were stunned. I remember thinking, “These guys are nuts!” After the last assistant coach emerged from the mud, the head coach looked at us and said, “Dive in. What are you waiting for?” Not thinking twice, our entire team sprinted toward the mud and dove in, doing our own version of a belly fl op. We laughed and rolled and cheered. Within 20 seconds we were covered in mud, soaked to the bone. Then the coach said, “OK, that’s enough. It’s time to practice. Line up.”
Wouldn’t you know, we had the best practice of the season.
I learned a valuable lesson that day. In this fallen world, we will have days of rain, mud and uncomfortable surroundings. It’s inevitable. And if we permit our surroundings to dominate our thinking, we will be miserable. Or, we can choose to embrace the challenge of the moment and celebrate the opportunity to turn mud into fun and clouds into joy.