Wish there was a photo to document it. At that time Captain Koonce dressed his family every morning in grey army sweats and at 5:30 AM loaded us up in the Buick to go to the high school track and run our minimum two miles. Yes, even the family dog, a poodle named Fritz, was included sans US Army sweats.
Five years later in the fall of 1978, I ran my first marathon at the age of eleven. Yeah, yeah, I know they don’t allow that anymore, but, hey, it was the 70’s; we took knives to school and sledded while being towed behind a truck. It was the AAU Championships, the International Rice Festival Marathon in Crowley, Louisiana. It started late because of fog and by the 10 am gun it had reached a sweltering 85 degrees. I’ll never forget the shimmer of heat rising off the pavement. I also couldn’t believe how long three hours could be. Alas, I finished in 3: 42 minutes, won the under 17 division (I guess that made me a national champion at the age of 11) 🙂 and I was welcomed into the world of marathons.
I can tell you this about marathons. It doesn’t matter whether your racing them or you are just trying to finish, it is a long ordeal. It cannot be completed without great preparation, personal sacrifice and without enduring some pain. It can be a very rewarding experience and worthwhile endeavor.
Sport development for ministry is a marathon, but, I am hoping, however, that reading this blog won’t be!
Running that first marathon we trained ten miles a day four days a week and ran a 20 miler on the weekend for almost four months. I will never forget nor will I ever thank God enough for having that time with my Dad. He ran with me, coached me, led me and encouraged me. We did it together. He invested in me.
That in so many ways is a perfect view into the window of sports development for ministry. It is investment, it is sacrifice, it is time, and in the end it is all about the relationships.
The Colonel, as we have fun calling him now, my Dad, invested in me. In this he had the venue to share with me his inner life of faith, his dependence on Jesus, and his great hopes for me. I guess this is where it all began, he was developing me through sport.