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Strange that I should find this group that would encourage me to use my position as an opportunity to witness to some...and encourage others in their faith...one day after I let an opportunity to do just that slip away.
On Thursday night, Feb 17, I had an opportunity to do play-by-play for Houston Baptist University on a FoxSportsHouston.com broadcast. HBU was hosting New Jersey Institute of Technology in a Great West Conference game. NCAA Division I basketball...but not-ready-for-prime-time yet.
NJIT is a program on the upswing with a coach in Jim Engles who I believe will one day coach on bigger stages. HBU, on the other hand, is struggling. They entered the game 3-21.
HBU is coached by a genuinely good man--Ron Cottrell. And he has been there for 20+ years. During that time, he has seen the very good and, more recently, the very bad. In getting around the offices before the game, visiting with the SID and assistants, I also saw Coach Cottrell briefly and we re-hashed the first time we met, about four years ago, when I worked for a group that held the radio rights to HBU's games and subbed for the regular PbP guy.
It was small talk, to be sure, but it also reminded me of how impressed I had been with Coach Cottrell during that first meeting. It had been the first year of HBU's re-entry into NCAA Division I basketball...as they jumped from the NAIA ranks. They didn't go D-III or D-II; they made the leap from NAIA to the Big Time. And it was, as you might expect, a struggle on the court to make such a significant jump.
But sitting in his office that evening, I met a man who was obviously strong in his faith. He had a Bible open on his desk, along with a copy of Henry Blackaby's Experiencing God. And beyond that, he exhibited a calmness, a peace and genuineness that I personally had (and still have) rarely seen in the 'world' I live in.
In that short first meeting, he made me want to see him succeed, to see his team succeed. I actually began to follow HBU closely and--seriously--pray for their head coach. And I've been an interested observer from a distance since that night.
In the years since, it hasn't gotten any easier for HBU, but they seem undeterred and very determined to stay the NCAA D-I course.
Thursday night would've been a great opportunity to perhaps share with him what a blessing to me it was to meet him four years ago, and let him know I still think about him and pray for him (though not nearly enough). And, in the process, perhaps be a blessing or encourager to him in the middle of a tough season.
But, my focus on the broadcast and his focus on the game at hand didn't leave any time for small talk.
HBU and NJIT went down to the wire, but HBU lost its 22nd game of the year. After I signed off and began to pack up, I again saw the coach on my way out and he talked for a minute about how hard his team plays for him, but how they just can't seem to get over the hump...
It was another opportunity to encourage him with more than just a, "Hang in there, baby" comment. But again, I let the opportunity slide by.
So now, tonight, I find this group and read that the mission is to "shar(e) the love of Jesus Christ through word and action!"
Oops...I'm reminded again that I've got to quit dropping that ball.
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