An Open Letter to God

Dear God,

I know I am not the best Catholic;  I do not attend mass regularly.  However, I do try to always live a Christian life.  I live to help others, share my talents, and never bring harm to anyone.  Also, when I do think to pray, I always try to be mindful that my family and I have our health and we share a great deal of love, so I am blessed.  I pray for the less fortunate and those in need.  I pray for an end of violence and oppression and for worldwide compassion and empathy.

However, today God, I am not only praying for others.  I am asking for myself.

Please, please allow the Cleveland Cavs to bring home the NBA Trophy.  I want nothing more than to feel elation and pride to be a Cleveland fan.  This city, these people need this win, too.  We are a community of people who care deeply for each other, and a win will signify that the love and friendship we feel for our fellow man is really alive.  It will restore a sense of pride, and when people feel good about their community, love and friendship and good will to all men is bound to be the attitude!

So fellow Cavs fans, please say this prayer aloud:

Dear God,

Thank you for all of the blessings in my life.  Thank you for the people who surround me.  However, God, in less than an hour please give the Cavs the strength, the stamina, and the will power to win Game 7.  It will mean the world to me.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Amen

God bless the Cavs, the city of Cleveland, and all men and women who are proudly wearing wine and gold today.




An Open Letter to Nick Swisher

Dear Nick,

On behalf of the people of Cleveland, I want to say “Thank You.”  Thank you for having a heart.

Last week, when I found out that you were single-handedly paying for the fireworks show after Saturday’s game, I was moved.  What a kind gesture!  I was so touched that I began telling my friends about it because I viewed this gesture as purely altruistic.

Sadly, my coworkers and friends did not see it the way I did.  “So?  He can afford it.  He’s making millions.”

To be honest, Nick, I was kind of deflated by their pessimism.  Why does it matter if you can afford it or not?  Does kindness have to come only from those who struggle to give it?  Does benevolence have to cost the giver?

I think I understand your generosity in a way others do not.  You see, there are a great many people with money who are not paying for fireworks shows just to provide twenty minutes of entertainment for the average Joe.  Sure, like you, they make amazing donations to charities and foundations, money well spent because it helps provide research and assistance to people who are in true need.

All donations are laudable, but something about this donation was different to me.  You wanted to do something nice just for the sake of doing something nice, and in the true spirit of an altruistic giver, I believe you are not expecting anything in return.

In a world of pessimists where worth is based on the consistency of one’s batting average, it is easy to see why so many other players see themselves as transient.  Many players do not take stake in a community because they are afraid of “the trade” or what will come at the end of their contracts.  Many players are in cities, and as much as they may love their teams, they never fall in love with the city and feel truly rooted in it.

Nick, I personally feel that your positivity and energy are good for this city.  It is obvious to me that you have rooted yourself in our community, and you embody the change you expect to see.  Whether you realize it or not, like the pebble that skips across the water creating rings, your efforts are creating a rippling effect in Cleveland.  Your passion and excitement are infectious!

Thanks again,


Everyone does NOT get a Trophy

I have been giving a great deal of thought as of late to the direction in which our society is moving.  Sadly, in the course of the last thirty years, we have gone from a society that reveled in competition to a society that is afraid to laud accomplishments.  Some quack looked at self-esteem in the seventies and said, “Wow, people who accomplish a great deal have amazing self-esteem.  Hmmm, maybe if we work on bolstering self-esteem, everyone will accomplish a great deal!”  The problem is that self-esteem does not create accomplishment; accomplishment creates self-esteem.

Even though it is faulty logic, the general public loved the idea.  Suddenly, we went from a society of clear winners and losers, to a society that doesn’t like to keep score.  This is a problem to me.  At young ages, children are learning a false sense of capability.  As these children grow and mature, they are not learning a true work ethic.  Why work hard?  Everyone gets a trophy!  Why study hard?  Curriculums in schools have been so manipulated as to make sure that mediocre is the new A.  (This is reality, folks.  I’m a teacher.)

So what we are saying is that no one is average? But, isn’t average the numerical mean?  Half are above average, the other half below.  Yet, in our society, no one wants to believe that they or their children can be something average or less, and so, we have to create ways to bolster their egos so that without putting in any effort, they feel that they are great.

Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, the buck stops here.  I refuse to play into this movement any longer.  This summer, I coached my eight-year old daughter’s softball team.  To say that they were terrible would be an understatement.  We lost the first two games by over fifteen runs.  In the third game, one of the fathers helped me coach.  After we lost 18-9 (Oh yes, we were improving.  It’s all about teaching the fundamentals.), one of the girls asked, “Who won?”  The father replied, “I don’t know, I think it was super close.”  Hearing him, I whipped around and flatly said, “We lost 18-9.”

You know what happened?  It motivated her.  She did not cry.  Her feelings were not hurt.  She looked at me and said, “I’m going to get my dad to work on batting with me over the weekend.”  Yes, that’s right.  She was motivated to do better!  She wanted to win, and she realized that winning means improving, which means work.


Two games later, a parent came up to me and said, “Are we going to buy the girls trophies at the end of the season?”

To be honest, I might not have handled it correctly.  I laughed.  “Umm, we have not won a game.  What would they be getting trophies for exactly?” I said.  The mother’s mouth dropped open.  “I’m sorry, I just don’t buy into everyone gets a trophy.” I continued.  She smiled curtly and walked away.   No one got a trophy for our season, but when they won their first game in the second to last week, the look on their faces and their excitement in their accomplishment was a reward in itself.

Yesterday, I started coaching my middle daughter’s cheerleading squad.  I coached last year, and when I was asked to return, I agreed.  Last year, midway through the season, I made a spirit stick.  I was trying to motivate the girls to work harder and be spirited.  At the end of each practice and game, I rewarded it to someone.  However, last year, I felt pressure to make sure every girl got it.  By the end of the season, even the girls who never deserved it, got to take it home.  I fed into the idea that I couldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.  But not this year.  This year, in our first team meeting, I read the girls the statement I wrote in the information packet I gave to the parents.

THE SPIRIT STICK: At the end of each practice and game, I will reward one cheerleader the Spirit Stick.  To be eligible, the cheerleader must be on-time to the practice or game, participate willingly, be loud and enthusiastic, not participate in horseplay, and exemplify what a true sportsman is.  I am not a proponent of “everyone gets a trophy.”  The girl who gets the stick will earn it!  The cheerleader is welcome to take the Spirit Stick home and bring it back at the next practice or game.

I said to these nine and ten-year old girls, “If you want the stick, you have to work for it.  Do you all understand?”  They shook their heads, and I swear, I saw a little fire in some of their eyes.  This first practice was the best practice I have ever had!

I am teaching these kids that if you want to be good, you have to work at it.  And when they get good, the self-esteem will follow!