A Boy Finds His Gift

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During a difficult period, running became my anchor and gave me a sense of purpose.

We can't have full knowledge all at once. We must start by believing; afterward, we may be led to master the evidence for ourselves.

-Thomas Aquinas

As a child, I was introverted and didn't interact much with my classmates. I found it challenging to make friends and lacked confidence in myself. Due to my shyness, I tended to keep to myself and didn't participate in school activities. Although my academic performance was average or slightly below, I struggled even more in music and art for reasons I will explain later.

I remember hiding in the back of the choir because my voice was so bad. I needed somewhere to fit in at school.

Before or after school, I was bullied for quite some time when I was young; older kids waited for me on my walk to school each day or home after school. I was threatened and pushed around if I would not give up my milk or lunch money.       

Some days, the bullies would wait at the exact location as I walked to school in the morning, which caused me to dread going to school. 

At the time, I thought getting picked on was no big deal; everyone got picked on. I did not know how to handle life's bullies because of my introverted nature, so I continued to suffer in silence. My ongoing suffering mainly stemmed from the fear of being physically beaten to a pulp and the anxiety related to running into the bullies each day. 

The Race That Changed My Life

One day, a few years later, I was asked to participate in a foot race against the entire school, which was a surprise. One of my teachers had encouraged me to try running. Although I was hesitant at first, I eventually agreed. To my great surprise and joy, I won the race by a significant margin.

After winning the schoolwide race, all the other kids erupted into loud cheering and rushed onto the field. Sensing something special, they lifted me, held me high, and excitedly paraded me around the playground. They were both shocked and seemed thrilled to see the quiet boy from the back of the class, who never said much, emerge victorious.

After this life-changing race, I also sensed new respect from my classmates and repeatedly heard, "That Weber sure can run fast!". The bullies, for the most part, also left me alone for quite sometime after the race.

As a  young child, winning a race made me happy because it was the first time I realized I was good at something. However, I didn't understand its true significance back then. As an adult looking back, I can see how that race helped me build a strong foundation of belief in my God-given abilities.

Winning that race was a defining moment in my life.

Mr. Springer Gets Me Connected

Moving forward, Mr. Springer, an elementary teacher at my school,  observed my first race and encouraged me to develop my running ability further. He accomplished this by connecting my parents and me with a summer track coach in the area. My parents then decided to enroll me in the summer track program, another pivotal moment in my life.

I won the state Junior Olympics in the long jump barefoot and placed second in the 75-yard dash at the state Junior Olympics during my first year of summer track and field.                  

I refused to wear shoes when my parents and coaches asked me to. I explained to them that I was faster without them. My explanation must have worked because I continued running without shoes for several years.

I've always been a non-conformist, and this trait persists within me still today. The non-conformist quality has proved to be a gift for me. It has allowed me to see the world from a different perspective, which has been particularly helpful when coming up with new ideas to improve the existing status quo.  

Throughout my life, I have always questioned whether there is a better way to complete a task. This desire has been a driving force since I was a kid, starting when I ran barefoot in school.

Running without shoes worked well for me; I was not too fond of the restriction of how shoes felt on my feet. So, I was determined to stick with this non-conventional way of running as long as possible. 

My Belief Begins To Grow

During my first summer track and field season, I started to gain more confidence in my abilities as a runner and student. As a result, my grades improved in the fall, and I became more involved with friends.  I also began to stick up for myself positively and confidently when the bullies came calling.

My elementary coach, my parents, and the summer track coach recognized and continued to encourage my God-given talent, and the rest, as they say, was history.                                                

A few good moments early on in life can genuinely change your life for the better, forever. Some people call these moments moments of truth. One small moment, like winning a simple race, can alter a person's life course in unique life-giving ways.

I am grateful for my youth and elementary coaches, whose care and encouragement changed the trajectory of my life.

The Power Of Someone Believing In You

When someone truly believes in you, the possibilities are endless. Sometimes, we need someone else to help guide us toward discovering that one thing that will unlock our potential and set us on the path to success.

Running provided me with a sense of belonging where I could contribute positively to the lives of others in various ways. The humble act of running from my first 10-second race and my growing faith in my innate abilities helped turn my life around for good.

Your life can improve dramatically with the help of a teacher or coach who believes in you, just as mine did when I discovered running as a child.                                                  

Surround the child, be it your child, grandchild, foster child, or any child, with people who genuinely care about them and seek to bring out their unique God-given talents and abilities. Choose communities and environments where love and care are the primary values.

Finding the right activity for a child is crucial for their future and how they help, serve, and love others during their lifetime.

Winning my first race was a life-changing moment that I'll never forget. For many of us, sports have the power to transform lives.

Blessings,

Coach Weber 

Philippians 4:13


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At a young age, I used to participate in races without wearing shoes. I was content with not following conventional practices.