You ever have one of those days when something happens that just leaves you amazed? Late last week I had one of those days. This past Friday I was out of the office recruiting when I received a voice mail that totally caught me off guard. I received a voice mail from a man that I hadn't talked to in over 17 years . . . I received a voice mail that literally made me tear up and at the same time put the biggest smile on my face. I received a voice mail from Stan McGarvey who was the football coach at Missouri Western State College while I was a student there. I received a voice mail from Stan McGarvey who was also my Sunday School teacher while I was attending college. And did I mention we hadn't talked in over 17 years?
Well tonight we finally were able to connect and since getting off the phone I have not been able to stop smiling. Stan McGarvey was the Head Football Coach at Missouri Western State College from 1991-1996. This was the same time that I was a student at MWSC while also assisting both the men's and women's basketball teams, initially as a student assistant and then as a graduate assistant. Coach McGarvey and I were certainly not close friends at the time (why would we have been, he was a successful college football coach and I was a 19 - 22 year old college student just trying to do whatever possible to get into the college coaching ranks, in basketball not football). While he didn't know it at the time I totally looked up to him and I was ecstatic when I found out that he and his wife Linda lead a Sunday School class for college students at the church I was attending. As I sit here tonight thinking back to those days I remember thinking what a great impact he made on me and yet he probably had no idea. Here he was, a successful college football coach but yet he gave of his free time to demonstrate his faith while ministering to me and several other college students.
As we talked tonight on the phone he said that he and his wife had been following my career and that they were so proud of me. As he finished saying that without thinking I said "you have no idea what that means to me but honestly I'm surprised, why would you follow my career?" Keep in mind he has been coaching football (at the college, high school and even professional level) since 1973 so think of the hundreds of young men he has coached and the number of men that have worked with him (coaches, trainers, managers, etc.). Right away he responded "Brian, do you remember right after you left Missouri Western for Arkansas State you sent Linda and I one of the nicest hand written notes thanking us for all we had done for you? Since receiving that letter we have made it a point to follow you and your career." Needless to say I was speechless!!!
After digesting this conversation tonight there are two things that I am reminded of. First off, it is a great reminder of the impact that a simple thank you note can have on someone. A handwritten (yes, I said handwritten . . . not email, not a text, not on Facebook) note that takes less than 5 minutes to write can leave an impression on someone for over 17 years. The second thing that I take from the conversation is that I hope I can have the same positive impact on someone that Coach McGarvey had on me. I didn't work with him, play for him or even have daily dealings but he still influenced me in a positive way (and he had no idea I was looking up to him). There are several coaches that I have either worked with or played for that have been tremendous influences on my life, but Coach McGarvey was a positive influence on me while I observed him from a distance. I wonder if there is somebody out there right now that would be left speechless if I called them 17 years from now and told them I was proud of them.