I remember it just like it was yesterday.
The crowd was on their feet. The pretty girl up front was cheering me on as if I was her hero.
The pressure was all on me.
All I have to do is make this kick and I will have accomplished an athletic feat that has never been done before. But if I blow it, my biggest fans will be terribly disappointed. This was one of those rare chances to achieve greatness.
As soon as my foot connected with the ball, I knew that it was going the distance...
Actually it was just like yesterday.
The pretty girl up front was my daughter Elsie. The rest of the audience consisted of my oldest son James, who was standing by his sister’s side, and my wife Jamie, who was watching from the kitchen window with a look of concern.
I couldn’t hear what Jamie was saying, but I could read her lips.
“You’re going to hurt yourself Jason. You’re not a kid anymore.”
It was just as well that the window muffled the sound because such warnings always fall on deaf ears.
The crowd was calling for it. What kind of man would I be if I let the fear of a pulled muscle or some other trivial injury stop me from attempting to go where no man has gone before?
We were tossing the football around in the yard earlier when James asked me how high I could kick it. My demonstrations greatly impressed him, and even Elsie was suddenly interested.
But eventually the ultimate challenge was issued.
“Daddy can you kick it over the house?”
“Of course I can son.”
“If you did that, you would be the master!”
I have strived to achieve many goals in my life, but none more important than being the “master.” That is not the kind of challenge I’m capable of turning down.
As I took a couple of warm up kicks into the air, I assessed the situation. Our house is very tall. It’s one of those older homes with 10-foot ceilings and a tall roof. It also rests on a conventional foundation, which adds a few more feet to the height. The front porch would add to the distance, but if I got the ball over the peak of the roof gravity would be on my side.
With total concentration I dropped the ball and it connected perfectly with my foot. As it sailed over the peak of the roof I raised my arms in celebration while pretending not to notice Jamie rolling her eyes through the kitchen window.
We sprinted around the side of the house to confirm that the kick was indeed successful. I scooped Elsie up into my arms so that she could keep up. I knew she wouldn’t want to miss this.
At first we couldn’t find the ball.
Doubts began to creep in. What if it got stuck in the gutter on the front of the house? Our hopes would be shattered. My children would have to cope with the fact that their father was a failure.
I was mentally preparing myself for that grim possibility when I heard my son scream, “It went all the way down the hill!”
The ball didn’t just clear the house. It rolled all the way down the large hill in our front yard. As far as James was concerned that’s how far I kicked it.
I didn’t bother to correct him. I was too busy savoring the moment of being a champion. James rushed inside with the ball to tell his mother what he had just witnessed. I could hear him calling me “the master.”
If only it could be possible to achieve such glorious victories on a regular basis...
But I didn’t get to rest on my laurels for long. The next morning as we were leaving for school James looked up at a giant oak tree in the yard and asked if I could kick the football over the tree.
“Of course I can son, but not right now. We need to get going.”