When Rob Hahne asked me to help implement the Kyle's Kamp Diamond Dreams games which encourage high school sports teams to host games to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer research, I was a little hesitant. I have been a stay at home mom for sixteen years. My worry when I am asked to do anything outside of my home is that it might take too much time away from my real job - the care and feeding of boys (and their dad). The fact is that there is no binding contract and no paycheck with this Kyle's Kamp gig and I've never felt pushed or guilted into volunteering. Rob made it clear from the beginning that he didn't want it to take too much time from my family.
Still, at first, I was concerned that it might take not only too much of my time and energy, but too much of my heart. In the end, I trusted that God would grow my time, my energy and my heart.enough to join this organization. What I have determined is that God wanted me to make this decision, not in spite of my responsibility to the children He had gifted me, but because of my responsibility to them.
Of course, I wanted to help children with cancer and their families and that is what these awareness and fundraising games do. But in my estimation, the Diamond Dreams games are as much about the healthy, vibrant, able athletes who swing bats and hit baseballs, as they are about the children for whom the games are played.
We live in an area that is sports-obsessed. To be honest, I live in a house that is sports-obsessed. Specifically, the baseball situation is crazytown-banana-sandwich-cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs around here. And I'm fairly unapologetic about it because I know that baseball teaches my children way more about life than it does about a ball and a bat. My involvement in this program makes me think long and hard about what it is that I want these high school athletes to gain from their experience in playing these games. So it was that the Freedom High School coach asked me to say a few words to my son's baseball team as both the JV and Varsity will host Diamond Dreams games in the next couple of weeks.
The morning I was to stand in front of the team, I wrote some things down to gather my thoughts because when you're going to be in front of a mess of high school guys, there is a legitimate fear that you might suddenly revert to your 14 year old dorky self. And although I don't wear my bangs all jacked up to the sky anymore and I've left the purple eyeshadow behind, I still was a bit nervous. I didn't want to ramble because I was pretty certain if I did, my 16 year old son might have muttered something along the lines of "While we're young, Mom. Wrap it up."
I honestly don't know what all I said. Maybe too much, maybe not enough. But I was trying to be quick, trying not to cry and trying to remember that I was at a public school, so I wasn't allowed to bring the Jesus as much as I might have liked. :-).
In any case, here's what I want to say, not only to my sons and their teammates who play in Kyle's Kamp's games, but to all of the athletes that are given the gift to play a sport they love. A gift to swing for the fences or strike out looking. A gift to start the game or sit the bench. Or even just the gift to wake up to one more day.
In my mind, the Kyle's Kamp games bring together two things - baseball and an obligation to the people God puts in our path. Perhaps, it seems an odd combination, but I don't find it so at all. If we can take what we love and give it a bigger purpose? If we can take the talent God gives us and use it in grateful response to Him by caring for His people? Well, I think that's a perfect match.
Coach Eric Taylor, of Friday Night Lights, is the greatest coach of all time.
(Yes, I know he's not real. Play along.)
Coach Taylor once said that teenaged boys only care about two things: Food and Girls. I think there is certain biological truth to Coach Taylor's statement, but I know lots of boys. And I know that they are capable of caring about more. I know that they can wonder about something greater than themselves. That they can see the world with eyes of compassion and purpose above their immediate goals.
I want you, players, to make the children with cancer who attend our games feel special. I want these kids to be honored and recognized and I want them to feel all along that these games are for and about them. But I'm a little greedy. I need these games to be about more than one child. I need them to be about a team of young men. Young men who can give more and do more and feel more than society believes they can.
I want this game to help you remember the gift that this life is - that this day is - that this game is. Last year, Mathias Giordano attended our Freedom Varsity game seven months before he died. Mathias's parents knew that day that their son did not have many more days to be with them. They had been given hard, cold, medical facts. They knew because of scientific expertise that each day they had with their boy from that day on was a gift slipping away.
Boys, you might not have been given any medical evidence telling you that you are not guaranteed tomorrow. But, you aren't any different than Mathias was that day. You do not know how many days you will wake up to sunshine on the baseball field. You do not know many days you will wake up to rain cancelling your game. You do not know how many days you will get to step up to the plate to strike out or hit a line drive or how many days you will have to high five your buddy in the dugout. No one can tell you how many days you will be given
Of course, I want you to realize that there are more important things than baseball. But I do think that baseball is important to God because you are important to God. If God has given you a talent for anything, then He gave it intentionally and it is how you use that talent that will determine if it becomes a gift. Not only a gift for you, but for your family, your friends and for anyone who God might put in your path. Diamond Dreams games tell you to be grateful for the gift. Don't let it sit unopened. Don't let someone tell you it isn't important. Use your talent. Use your gift. Use them well in grateful response because you do not know how many days that gift will be offered
Thank you to all teams participating in the Kyle's Kamp Diamond Dreams games including the following teams: Paul VI Varsity Baseball, Good Counsel Varsity Baseball, McLean Varsity Baseball, Langley Varsity Baseball, Kettle Run Varsity Baseball, Woodson Varsity Baseball, Washington-Lee Varsity Baseball, Robinson Varsity Baseball and Softball, Stonebridge JV and Varsity Baseball, Jame Madison JV and Varsity Baseball, Oakton Varsity Baseball, Fairfax Varsity Softball, John Champe Varsity Baseball, West Springfield Varsity Softball and Baseball, Westfield JV and Varsity Baseball, Freedom JV and Varsity Baseball and Softball, CD Hylton Varsity Softball and Rock Ridge Varsity Baseball. To register your team (any sport, any level) go to www.kyleskamp.org and click on Dreams Events.
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Jenn Skinner is a Christian and a Texan(Texas Longhorn to be specific!) living in beautiful Virginia with her very patient and funny husband and her 3 very impatient and funny little boys/ball players, She joined the fight against Pediatric Cancer with Kyle's Kamp in 2013. She also writes about just about everything and nothing and the ridiculously abundant life God has gifted her at her blog, The View From Behind Home Plate