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~ Kathy M.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Celebrating the Postive Portions of Everyday Life: Bobby the Rope Climbing Champion

Yesterday, Cary was going through his memorabilia, and in one of his scrapbooks, he found this essay written in the 1950's by a high school P.E. teacher/coach at Sequoia High School in Fresno, California.  I loved the story itself, and the teacher's dedication to writing it.  I typed it word for word, even when I wanted to edit.  

Please keep everything in context of the world 50+ years ago, and enjoy the message itself.  To me, this true story is like my blog, in that it  celebrates the positive portions of everyday life.  

***  I just looked this up on Google, and this is actually a famous story that has been circulating for years as an example of honesty.  There were hits for both the LDS and Catholic Churches.  It just jumped out at me when Cary started reading it out loud, and I wanted to share it. ***

A Boy, A Hope and a Truth

by Coach Elam R. Hill

"Today, I saw truth.  For a moment I lived and breathed in the great presence of truth and felt its sweetness plunge deep into my soul.  I am a coach in a junior high school.  I work with 500 boy each day.  This has been my occupation for over 20 years.  I enjoy it.

Traditionally, I am supposed to be rugged, tough, crusty; yes, even a little severe at times -- and yet, underneath this exterior, feeling and understanding must exist if the job is to be done.

Today was test day in climbing the rope.  We climb from a standing start to a point 15 feet high.  One of my tasks this past few weeks has been to train and teach the boys to negotiate this distance in as few seconds as possible.

The school record for the event is 2.1 seconds.  It has stood for three years.  Today this record was broken.  But, this is not my story.  How this record was broken is the important thing here, as it so often is in many an endeavor in this live.

For three years, Bobby Polacio, a 14 1/2 year-old ninth grade Mexican boy, has trained and pointed, and, I suspect, dreamed of breaking this record.  It has been his consuming passion; it seemed his whole life depended upon owning this record.

In his first of three attempts Bobby climbed the rope in 2.1 seconds, tying the record.  On the second try the watch stopped at 2.0 seconds flat, a record!  But as he descended the rope and the entire class gathered around to check the watch, I knew I must ask Bobby a question.  There was a slight doubt in my mind whether or not the board at the 15 foot height had been touched.  If he missed, it was so very, very close -- not more than a fraction of an inch -- and only Bobby knew this answer.

As he walked toward me, expressionless, I said, "Bobby, did you touch?"  If he had said "yes" the record he had dreamed of since he was a skinny seventh grader and worked for almost daily would be his, and he knew I would trust his word.

With the class already cheering him for his performance, the slim, brown-skinned boy shook his head negatively.  And in the simple gesture, I witnessed a moment of greatness.

Coaches do not cry.  Only babies cry, they say.  But as I reached out to pat this boy on his shoulder, there was a small drop of water in each eye.  And it was with effort, through a tight throat, that I told the class: "This boy has not set a record in the rope climb.  No, he has set a much finer record, a real genuine record for you and me and everyone to strive for.  He has told the simple truth."

I turned to Bobby and said, "Bobby, I'm proud of you.  You've just set a record many athletes never attain.  Now, in your last try, I want you to jump a few inches higher on the take off.  You're going to break this record."

After the other boys had finished their next turns and Bobby came up to the rope for his last try, a strange stillness came over the gymnasium.  Fifty boys and one coach were breathlessly set to help boost Bobby Polacio to a new record.  He climbed the rope in 1.9 seconds!  A school record, a city record and perhaps close to a national record for a junior high school boy.

When the bell rang, and I walked away, now misty-eyed, from this group of boys, I was thinking:  "Bobby, little brown skin, with your clear, bright, dark eyes and your straight trim, lithe body -- Bobby, at 14, you are a better man than I.  Thank you for climbing so very, very high today."

ELAM R. HILL, author of this true story, is a physical education instructor at Sequoia High School, in Fresno."


Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Great story, and one I have never read. For all the goofy things that make it into my email, this would be one worth sending around. That it is true makes it better. What ever happened to the boy, Bobby?

Kathy at Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy Welcomes You! said...

I don't know ... I looked him up and there are a few Bobby P.'s on FB; but this story is pretty old.

No Copying!


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