I’m hoping that not only do you read and understand this letter. I’m hoping that you save it and look to it from time to time as a reminder. Let me start by telling you this letter is not an assertion of authority, but an expression of respect. I’ve had several conversations with Coach Landrum, and a couple with Coach Higgins and it’s safe to say we all agree that this sports program can be special. With our freshman class of athletes Lusher can be held in the same regard as the Catholic schools sports programs. I personally believe with our talent there’s no reason why we can’t compete deep into playoff competition in football and win State in basketball someday.
But I believe the key is you, Andrew!
The major drawback to Lusher is that most of our athletic talent is cluttered in a young class. There aren’t enough models in the upper classes that you all can look to. There’s not enough talent to push you. A lot of you have great potential. But you don’t even know how good you can be. You all don’t even know how good you want to be. So it’s up to those of you who can do it to push each other.
Now I won’t sugarcoat it for you; being a leader is not a choice and sometimes it is a burden. But it’s also a gift. Whether you like it or not, your peers around you will, and do, look to you for guidance, for their energy, for encouragement, for your approval, etc. As a leader everything you do will reflect on those around you and those behind you. If you work hard they will work hard. If you come to practice and work to get better, they will want to be better with you. But if you slack they will slack. If you undermine the coaches, they will think it’s ok to talk back to the coaches. If you leave practice because you don’t feel like being there, they won’t feel like practicing either. Now I know you didn’t ask for that. But you can’t change that the same way black people couldn’t change the color of their skin and were oppressed because of it. The same way women can’t change their gender and have to carry baby’s instead of just make them. The only thing you can do is accept it and make the best of it. And once you realize that it’s not a choice you will realize being a leader is a great thing, the way black people now realize their skin is beautiful, and the way women realize it’s a blessing to bring life into the world. You were born a leader, and therefore, people will follow you.
The fact is that you need them as much as they need you. I know you have personal goals of playing on the next level. But your goals will fall short if you don’t have capable people around you. If you don’t have players who are also a threat, you’ll never score a single point. If you don’t have teammates who are capable and willing to block for you, you’ll never rush or throw for a single yard. If Lusher doesn’t win any games all of your statistics and personal accomplishments will fall by the wayside and fade into the nothingness once you’re gone. Or you can carry those around you and behind you to higher heights, and when Lusher reaches its potential you can know that you contributed to a thing greater than one man.
I know sometimes you get frustrated with the guys around you who don’t have your talents and you think it would be easier to just “Do you.” But it’s not that simple. God gives us gifts to share with those around us, to help them reach their own potential. Gilbert can be a great basketball player and dominate on the High School level and maybe beyond. But he’s not a leader. Brandon Scott can be a great cornerback and shut down half the field. But not without you pushing him. Aaron Harrison will give everything he’s got on a court or a field, but he needs you to motivate him to know when to make the hit, or attack the boards. Ricky can be the greatest athlete to ever compete at Lusher. But not unless you are there to show him how much you can accomplish so he can strive to accomplish more. They are soldiers, but none is a general. If you throw 100 soldiers into a battlefield they will go 100 different directions if there’s no general to tell them where the fight is. The question is not whether you’re a general. The question is whether or not you’re going to fight. I told you during a basketball game that you are not a man. I stand by that. A man doesn’t leave his family behind. You can choose your friends but you can’t choose family. And your teammates, the people you sweat with, cry with, win and lose with, are your family. Those in Lusher middle school who aspire to someday be your teammates are your family. And you need each other, but they need you more.
We all know you’re a leader, but can you be a man. We know you’re a general, but will you fight?