(The picture below is yours truly in a class room---once upon a time--- setting trying to explain government to a group of students. I'm sure they were spell bound/ not.)
VALUE OF BEING A MENTOR
One of my favorite books, by one of my favorite authors, is My Losing Season, by Pat Conroy.
I have gone back to this book on numerous occasions; sometimes even listening on tape. The book is about Conroy’s experiences as a student and a basketball player back in the early 60s’ at The Citadel; a true story. While Conroy had less than the basketball career he would have liked, he did have many positive experiences there, both as an athlete and a student. He writes glowingly of one of his teachers, Colonel John Doyle. Years after his graduation, Conroy continued to stay in touch with this teacher, this mentor to him, who helped create his love of writing. Most every occasion, Conroy would end his conversation with Doyle by saying, “You know how much I love you? Thanks for finding this lost boy.” To which Doyle would always say, “No, Pat we found each other.”
Often, if one has been on the receiving end of much good from someone older, sometimes they only think of the experience from their standpoint, what they received. Generally, they don’t think of what the mentor received in return from the mentee. From 1964 to 1976, I was a teacher and coach in Indiana, and 1967 found me at my first high-school teaching and coaching level. The three previous years I had been at a junior-high level. This year, I was a junior-varsity coach at a very small, rural school in central Indiana. I was pretty much left to myself with this group of young men, and that year turned out to be one of my most memorable years I ever coached. I knew “some basketball;” anyone who grew up in Indiana, who had played, knew some basketball. But still, I was “wet behind the ears,” so to speak. I was on my own; these kids now looked to me. In years previous, the junior varsity had not had a great deal of success. I think these kids ended their season, that year at 13 and 8.
Here is my point: without question, I learned more from those kids than they probably ever did from me. I might have been “their coach,” but they provided the opportunity for me to learn on my own, as they did also. Still to this day, I can remember the names of the starting group. I wrote them in a score book, many a Friday night. Steve Vandiver, Jimmy Martin, Greg Modisett, Jim Mullins and John Duffy. I also remember most of the reserves. I would like to see all of these guys, these 50-year-old-plus guys and their families, today.
If you have the opportunity to be a mentor, I encourage you to take on the task, as you will gain from the experience. This past year, my wife and I have been part of a marriage mentoring program at our church. Without question, we have enjoyed and learned from this experience.
“No, no Mr. Conroy, we found each other.”
January 27, 2011