Thank You Derek Jeter
As I sat eating my “Dome Dog,” I heard over the PA system. “Now batting for the New York Yankees, the short stop Derek Jeter.” I looked over at my brother and said Derek who? I was just a freshman in high school at the time. We then proceeded to have a conversation about how to pronounce his last name. Of course I was wrong. We had little idea that we were getting our first glimpse at whom would become one of the greatest baseball players of all time, and arguably one of the greatest role-models for our youth.
It wasn’t our first trip to the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis. In fact my family had made it a tradition to catch the Yankee series each year. We are all Yankee fans. It’s a prerequisite in our family; before you make your grand entrance you are branded a Yankee fan. My middle child was not only branded a Yankee fan before his entrance…he was equipped with his name, Jeter James Jordan, before he blessed us with his first appearance.
Derek Jeter’s legacy and where he falls amongst baseballs greatest will forever be debated. I have my own opinions, but I’m not writing this blog to gloat about his athletic ability. I’m writing this blog to emphasize the importance of role models to the young children of this world. While baseball experts around the globe debate his place in baseball history, I think I speak for an overwhelming majority when I say Derek Jeter as a person is not up for debate.
Derek played the game with passion. He played baseball the right way. He was a leader whom led by example. He kept his professional life separate from his personal life. He was not a cheater and you will not see an asterisk next to his name when you flip through the record books. He is living proof that hard work, perseverance, and strong work ethic can lead to conquered dreams. His actions have been mimicked by millions of young children around the world. A pickup baseball game has many youngsters pretending to be Derek Jeter… they all want to wear #2.
Derek Jeter is not the only person our young children look up to. Athletes are role models – no doubt, but each and everyone one of us is a role model for someone. At any given moment somebody is watching you. They want to be like you. Is your attitude contagious? Is your attitude worth catching? As an educator and parent, I have the opportunity to influence children everyday. I think of it as the greatest job in the world. Yes, sometimes life does get the best of me and I fail to lead in an appropriate manner. We as people are not perfect, but we must remember that we are leaders. We are role models, and the people around us will repeat our actions. I’ve got a lot to learn as an educator and parent, but I’d be doing society and my children a disservice if I didn’t strive to be the best that I can be. Perfect may not be attainable but we must set our sights on it.
If you can’t find a role model, be one. Whether you are a parent, business leader, educator, professional athlete, or someone with a beating heart – you have an obligation to improve the society in which we live. We adults have a tremendous amount of power. We can change the world for the better. We can be the hope for kids all around the world. I don’t know about you, but this excites me. I’m up for the task. Are you?
As I look back on the days my family and I traveled to Minnesota I’m greeted by hundreds of memories. Whether it was sitting on George Steinbrenner’s lap when I was 6 years old or hearing Derek Jeter called to the plate for the first time, these moments with my family have had a profound impact on my life. Just as my dad and grandpa told me stories of the Yankee greats, I’m honored to be able to share the story of Derek Jeter to my children. My kids may or may not be blessed to be a Yankee great in the future, but I guarantee you they will quickly learn how good he was as a player, and more importantly how great he was as a person.
I would like to thank all of those that were great role models for me in my life. Of course Derek Jeter and other professional athletes were on my list, but my parents, grandparents, relatives, educators, and many more also accompanied them. Thank you for the positive impact you all had on my life. I strive each and every day to reciprocate that to my children and youngsters of this world.