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Sports Talk: Striking gold with Charles Pettis

Pam and I recently ventured to Sweetwater Park to watch a T-ball game. Our young friend Jake "The Snake" Derry was playing for the Cubs, coached by his dad Greg. Jake was slightly more interested in the proceedings than his younger siblings, Sam, Laynie and Libby who were being held in check in the bleachers by their mother Charlotte. You can put the attention span of kids at a T-ball game in a thimble. The adults were having a ball.

As I watched, I recalled Wesley's days in T-ball under the direction of Charles Pettis. Let me qualify what I am about to write by promising you that I am a cynic in the worst way. My family always expects me to find the negative in any situation. I call it realism.

Realistically, Charles Pettis is a first class gentleman. He proved it to me by the way he handled young children on the old dirt field at Sweetwater. If you looked up the word patience in the dictionary, you would see Charles Pettis' picture. Every coach, teacher and parent alive could have taken lessons from Mr. Pettis in how to treat children. I should have read his book.

Charles' son, Chuck, was on the football team at Thomson High when I was coaching. I observed Charles to be a rather quiet, unassuming parent more concerned with Chuck's academic future than his athletic one. Some might even call him aloof.

On the T-ball field Charles was not aloof. He managed a whole game, both teams and the inattentiveness innate to those kids, entirely alone. He never once raised his voice or demonstrated an ounce of frustration. Yes, they were just five year olds, but we all know how five year olds can make adults act sometimes, especially on a ball field. Charles Pettis was above that fray.

Mr. Pettis has been with the local recreation program for 22 years. I am thrilled that he was a small part of my son's life twelve years ago. I know he made an impression on Wesley, but kids often forget those kinds of things. Parents do not forget.

Us grown-ups tend to live our lives through our children's exploits. Pam and I are often accused of protecting our children's every step even now. I can unequivocally say that if all adults that our children have dealings with treated them with even half of the respect that Mr. Pettis showed five year-old T-ballers, we would be a lot less conspicuous.

Charles Pettis doesn't go on a power trip when he works with kids. He doesn't use the job just to boss children around because he can.

Whoever had the idea of having Mr. Pettis conduct T-ball, it may have been him, struck gold. Thank goodness Wesley Walker, and his daddy, found a small nugget.

Web posted on Thursday, May 27, 2004

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