YXU Annual Pledge: 1,108 of 5,000 meals
Total Community Investments: $6,209

The Mad Hatter

Posted on 26 September 2016

When spoken, some words go in one ear and out the other, but others stick around and become etched into the legacy we hope to grow into.

I spent the majority of my youth being driven around by parents to countless soccer games throughout the Cleveland area, and on some occasions, across the midwest. The games all blend together, and my goals were so few and far between that they have long since been forgotten. After spending the better part of a decade cramped in minivans and smelling of sweaty shinguards I’m left with a handful of teammates turned lifelong friends and the echo of a voice that has stuck with me and shaped me over the years.

I was introduced to Coach Neil at the peak of my awkward stage in middle school. I was quiet and content, not looking to make any ripples and satisfied to just fit in. Coach Neil quickly challenged my teammates and I to think bigger about our soccer abilities, and just as quickly instilled the confidence necessary is us all to challenge even our greatest expectations.

I learned discipline and accountability from a man who rarely raised his voice, but always made his presence known. When it seemed easier to quit or to avoid consequences for our actions he reminded us that “Excuses are the nails that build the house of failure.” He transformed the quiet and content kid into a confident young man who is committed to pushing the limits of his own ability, because “if you only do what you’ve already done, you’re only going to get what you’ve already got.”

There is no way to tell when a voice will cease to be just a voice and instead will become an echo of excellence. Coach Neil gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams and is a huge part of my motivation for wanting to pursue YXU. No matter what the future may hold his voice will always echo in my mind giving the conviction and humility to pursue my passion and be a steward in my community. Because as he would say, “Above all else, you’re gentleman.”

–MP

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