In February of 1992 I was transferred to Austin by IBM. I didn't know anyone outside of work and had a lot of free time, so I decided to do some volunteer work. In August of that same year I joined Big Brothers/Big Sisters. I was matched with Chris, a 10 year old boy who lived with his mom in south Austin.
little girl cry). We bowled. Terribly. We played football and basketball. We watched movies. We went roller skating. (Or in my case, roller falling.) We went sailing. We went camping. And we once got "lectured" by an employee at the Austin Children's Museum for knocking over several stacks of building blocks. (It should be noted that we were the ones who stacked the blocks in the first place.)
I watched his middle school football games, I taught him how to drive a manual transmission, I went to his high school graduation.
We haven't seen each other in a few years, and the event was a couple of states away, but I wouldn't have dared to miss it. Chris and his bride Sierra had a beautiful wedding, surrounded by their friends and family. It was an honor to be invited.
As I watched the ceremony, I reflected on our match. Chris was always a good kid, didn't get into a lot of trouble (despite my best efforts), studied a little here and there, was friendly and gregarious. And he's turned into a fine young man.
He also taught me patience and how much I enjoy working with kids. It's because of our match that I went on to coach sixteen seasons of youth soccer and three seasons of youth basketball (so far).
His mom once asked me if I considered myself a role model. I joked at the time, "No, I'm more of a horrible warning."
And if she asked me that question today my answer would still be no. All I had to do was spend time with a good kid.