I get very proud of friends and colleagues who persevere.
I am especially proud of those who have incredibly hard starts in a new environment and then, rather than complain, reloads for the next phase so those they lead are prepared.
From 1997-2000, I was a teacher and assistant football coach at Westminster Christian Academy in Opelousas, Louisiana. One of my coaching staff mates was a great guy named Vinnie Bullara; he taught physical science and biology, I taught Apologetics and Worldviews. We had a number of challenges, but we were part of a unit that took a team from 1-9 to 5-5 (1997), 6-5 with a playoff appearance (1998), and 9-2 with another playoff berth (1999). The success plan was nothing fancy: Just weightlifting, conditioning, and having the players buy into the system while helping them become more intelligent players. It was great to be part of that effort, as well as learning that sticking to a consistent plan will reap dividends.
Fast forward to last year, after some moves elsewhere and then back to Opelousas, my friend Vinnie (I know...sounds like a Joe Pesci movie) is named the head football coach at Westminster. Picking up the pieces of a once proud program, Vinnie went 1-10 in his first year with struggling units on both sides of the ball. It would have been easy to despair. Vinnie never blamed anyone; he was looking toward the future; he'd been through this before. Get stronger; get tougher; get more disciplined; believe in yourselves. That's what I know he's preached.
This year, the Westminster Crusaders--after last night's 40-20 win over Ascension Catholic--have started 3-1, tripling last season's win total. They are more disciplined and much tougher (allowed 76 points through first four games as opposed to 136 last year). It's a great success story in process.
I recall former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz saying in his book The Fighting Spirit, that "if you believe and if you have a plan and if you believe in the plan, good things will happen."
That's not just good for football; it's good for life itself in all our human endeavors. It counts greatly to exhibit--as Eugene Peterson once termed it--"a long obedience in the same direction."
Well done, Vinnie. May that long obedience continue, my friend.