[dropcap]G[/dropcap]et out of this car,” Mother said. “Show that football coach what you’re made of.”

“I’m scared,” I said.

“You’ve got to have faith in yourself,” said my mother. “Believe you can do it.”

I sighed. “But what if I fail?”

“Then I’ll disown you and move to Vegas.”


“I’m only kidding.” She patted my leg. “Look, I know God didn’t give you confidence. But don’t doubt yourself, get out there and try.”

She was right. I wasn’t born with the confidence my friends had. Once, the baseball coach asked me if I wanted to play first base. I answered, “Sure, I’d love to. If you don’t mind losing every game.”

They made me an understudy for the batboy.

When I was older, they asked me to play the lead role in the school musical. I didn’t sleep for two nights and lost six pounds. I told the director I’d be more comfortable handing out programs wearing a ski mask. He shook his head at me. “We already have someone for programs,” he said. “You can be the understudy for the batboy again.”

Coach was also our director.

Despite my timidness, my mother somehow believed in me. For many years, she was the only one who did. And on that particular day, she believed I could be a defensive tackle.

The football tryouts lasted half the day. When I walked back to the car, Mother asked how things went.

“Things went great!” I told her.

“See?” She smiled. “That’s what happens when you believe in yourself. What position are you?”

Understudy for the batboy.

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