Columbus Kick-Off & Orientation 2018.02.26

You always get a special kick on opening day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.
— Joe DiMaggio

Have you ever wondered why almost any weekend you can turn on the big screen and see men or women knocking around that little white ball? The golf season seems to have no beginning and no end with no discernible off-season. (Stay with me, I know golf can be more boring to talk about than to watch for some folks!) If you are a PGA tour player, golf is a winter, spring, summer, and fall sport. According to the PGA’s schedule, the 2017-2018 season is literally 364 days long – beginning October 2 last year and ending with the Ryder Cup on September 30, 2018. They do have a winter break from Thanksgiving until January 1, much like basketball, baseball, and hockey have their mid-season All-Star breaks.

 "Three legs of the stool" - Speaker David Probst emphasizes the significance of each: the parents (standing), the coaches, and the students.

"Three legs of the stool" - Speaker David Probst emphasizes the significance of each: the parents (standing), the coaches, and the students.

Why do they do it this way? The Tour is geared more towards the players than to the fans in that it gives them more opportunities for improvement, recognition, and financial gain. And, why do I bring it up? Because Handshake America pretty much has a year-round season - February through January - which is geared towards the benefit of the student-athletes, with all kinds of opportunities for improvement, growth and personal gain! See the analogy?

As I walked around the room during Orientation I noticed a couple of things. First, as it happens every year, most of the student-athletes had the first game jitters. That is not a knock on anyone. They know few of their peers, even fewer of the coaches, they are signing papers, and listening to speakers telling them of the amazing opportunities laid out before them at the cost of a higher level of social expectation to which they may be unaccustomed. Not to mention, there is someone pointing a camera in their faces and constantly snapping pictures of them. It’s a lot to take in!

 Students met their coaches and teammates, filled out paperwork, game-planned contact methods, and (most importantly) chose their team names. 

Students met their coaches and teammates, filled out paperwork, game-planned contact methods, and (most importantly) chose their team names. 

The second thing I noticed took place as the evening progressed. The coaches took the reins, broke the ice, and engaged the seniors-to-be in a very special way. They are coaches with Handshake because they are a special group of people chosen to lead another special group - of young people. These coaches are people who have “been there”. They played sports, they went to college, they received their degrees, they became successful in living life and managing what life throws at them. They value the relationships they form and the people with whom they form them. They are passionate about what they are doing. Their presence is invaluable. They exemplify the 5 Practices (known succinctly as the "5Ps") this program is based upon.

 Ron Ransom and student, Miicah Coleman, demonstrate the perilous and confusing world of the handshake before finally getting it right.

Ron Ransom and student, Miicah Coleman, demonstrate the perilous and confusing world of the handshake before finally getting it right.

OK, I’ll throw in a bonus - a third thing I noticed. This is a group of student-athletes who has the raw talent for the 5Ps, as well. The coaches are here to hone those skills – as with any coach in any sport. You could tell they know how to lace up the cleats, put on the chin strap, tuck in their jerseys and get down to business. There was confidence, leadership, and humility on their faces. This evening was the warm-up, handshake, coin flip, and pre-game pleasantries all rolled into one. The new season is underway and, just as they say on TV, stay tuned for updates and highlights on the upcoming events right here, at What's Happening. Have a great year!

 mDraudt