Sunday, September 26, 2010

The jobs I have worked – Soccer Referee

So the umpiring job only was during the spring/summer time and I needed something to do on weekends during the fall. I had played football my freshman year and right after I was named a captain for the next game, I tore my hamstring and football was done. Something was needed to fill the time.

I always loved soccer and played throughout grade school. St. Louis does have a fairly decent history of soccer and the love of the sport here. The high school I attended won the state title twice while I was there. I wanted to do something like umpiring and something I would not have to commit a lot of time to with still being in school. So I got into the world of CYC soccer referring.

Umpiring was one thing, soccer is a whole other story. Not just the running up and down the sidelines; however, the issues with the parents were a LOT worse and the things they would say. I usually worked with the same other guy on Saturday mornings about 5-10 minutes from where I grew up. The parents would be lined up all along one sideline because of how the field was situated. We would flip Saturdays on who would get the “special” sideline.

For the most part, things would roll off me when they were said. I understood they would be frustrated with their ten year old missing a shot and it only had to be because they were fouled. I was not one to just call the foul or penalty. I wanted to show them and the coaches what they were doing wrong and if they kept doing it, then I would call it.

One fall Saturday I got the “special” sideline. As we were going through the first game, I noticed that the coach was acting as if he was coaching in the World Cup. His team was not very good and continuously got called for offsides. Then, he screamed at me when I did not call it for the other side and they were scored upon. I pulled him aside and explained to him why it was not called. The parents were even getting embarrassed and were yelling at him. He shrugged it off and we moved on to halftime. I was talking to the other referee and I overheard him tell the kids to try and kick the ball “towards” me to see if I could get out of the way. His team was down a few goals at this point and seems as though he had given up on the game. The other referee and I talked and both agreed if this happened, the coach would be kicked out and I would have to report it to the league.

So, about five minutes in, the coaches son was going down the line and kicked it square at me as I was running in the out of bounds area. I caught the ball and stopped the game. I went to the coach and through him out. He exploded. The parents held him back and he told me he would be waiting for me in the parking lot. SERIOUSLY?? I went to the kid and looked at him. He said “I’m sorry sir but I have to listen to what he says.” Simply put: Sad.

My dad was waiting in the parking lot afterwards to pick me up and I was escorted to my car and we left. I am not sure if my dad remembers the event but it seems as though it happened yesterday. I drove by the field a few months back while we were looking at homes. I cringed.

Many who know me, know I am a sports nut. Now that I have a son, I would like to be involved in my son’s sports career, if he chooses to go that route. I pray I am not like that coach. He lost a lot of respect from many that day, possibly his son. That man showed me the father I do NOT want to be. I pray for that man that somehow, God has changed his heart. His son is probably in his mid 20’s now and may have a kid of his own. Weird to look at that situation now through a parent’s eyes.

Next job – Photography??????

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

The jobs I have worked – Umpire

Just this past Wednesday, I attended an event in downtown St. Louis with many hotel associates. As I was walking around, I noticed a gentleman I used to worked for about 15 years ago. I was unable to talk to him as he was working and was far away from me when I recognized him. It got me thinking of all the jobs I have had so far in my life and what did I learn from them.

I had turned 15 years old when I began my career path and was an umpire for little league baseball. We had a local park in my hometown where I had played at just the previous year. It was an extremely flexible job because I was also playing baseball for my high school as well as Legion baseball during the summer. Even with all that going on, my parents wanted me to get my feet wet with a part-time job. So I did just that by umpiring. I would get to the park and work 1 or 2 games depending on the night. We got paid by how many games we worked. I worked as many as I could as it was something I loved doing. I was around baseball and I got to be involved in a different part of the game. It was a blast.

Two events I remember taught me about perseverance and patience in confrontation. Umpires deal with a lot of confrontation, that I have seen numerous times. What shocked me is that it happened as much as it did in 7th grade baseball! I made a call at first once that I will admit was wrong. I called the runner out when he was clearly safe. I looked at the play and did not listen for the ball to hit the glove. The coach came on to the field and I was ready to get screamed at as I was already beginning to second guess my call. The coach put his arm around me and simply said, “You got it wrong and I think you know it.” I told him I knew I missed it and he simply said, “Mistakes happen. But remember this Travis, keep having fun.” That was it. He walked away and the call did not play any call on the game. It showed me how to deal with a problem situation properly. Not lose it and scream at someone, that accomplishes zilch.

The second event was a game I was working with someone I saw at the event mentioned at the beginning. I did not talk with him as he was walking away at the end of the event, but I would like to get in touch with him to see how he is doing. Anyway, I digress. We were working a game one night that took forever. I was behind the plate and it was taking forever. That happens a lot in little league baseball with a lot of offense and not a lot of defense. The game was nearly at the automatic game stoppage with one team up by 10 in the fifth inning. The bases were loaded with two outs. The batter had two strikes on him and a pitch came that was right on the corner. I was about ready to call him out and the game would be over. Time to go home early!! Instead, I called it a ball. I was shocked I even called it a ball. This time, this call bit not only myself but my friend working in the field. Why did it bite you may ask? Well, the inning lasted about 40 minutes as they came back to take the lead in this one inning. The game ended up lasting until about 11:45 that night, about two hours later than expected. We were not even allowed to start and inning after 11pm. So guess what happened the last inning! I apologized to my buddy and he had forgotten about the call and told me that this was the greatest game he had ever been apart of before. It taught me this: Even through adversity, focus on the positive.

I only umpired for one spring/summer as baseball commitments controlled me more after that freshman summer. I still have to say I enjoyed that job and still look at it as a learning experience, even though with these two stories, I was not the greatest umpire. But hey, everyone makes mistakes, right?

Next time: The Jobs I have worked – Referring Soccer

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Still a Great Movie

I have always been an early riser. My parents can confirm this as they love telling the story of them coming into the living room and I am up watching golf at 6am when I am just a few years old. In college, I would sleep in a little bit but not that much consistently. Now that my son is trying to be like daddy, I rarely sleep past 5:30 in the morning. Stephanie is the complete opposite of me and loves to sleep so when I do get up early in the morning, I tend to have some peaceful moments in the day before Cameron wakes up and brings even more joy to my day.mission-DVDcover

This morning, I woke up around 5am and came out to the living room. I flip through some infomercials and sports highlights before I find one of my top five favorite movies of all-time. It is a movie of love lost deep sin committed and a chance of repentance. The movie is entitled The Mission starring Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson. I saw this movie years ago and it was a movie my parents had watched and recommended. Robert De Niro plays a Spanish slave trader who finds out his wife does not love him anymore. He ends up killing her lover and is held in a jail. Meanwhile, a Jesuit priest, played by Jeremy Irons, takes him in and brings him to the a remote area which they are serving in the mountains. 

I will not give away what happens at the end of the movie, as I do encourage all reading to watch it or if you have seen it, watch it  again. The part of the movie that really hits me is the scene when they arrive in the mountains and meet up with the tribe they are assisting. Robert De Niro’s character, Rodrigo, is carrying a massive net filled with junk as his penalty for the murder of his wife’s lover. He struggles throughout the trip going through the jungle and is in a state of complete exhaustion. As he finally gets to the tribe, a member of the tribe runs at him with a knife. He is thinking his life is over as his stares at the knife to his throat. The tribal member then cuts the huge net and shoves it off a cliff and it lands in the water, which carries the netting away never to be scene again. Rodrigo then begins to sob as people come up and hug him. He realizes his burden is no more.

How many times have we been at a state of complete exhaustion? If I am guessing, we have all hit that proverbial brick wall. We want to just rest and sit down. We need a good nights’ sleep. We need to kick back after a busy week at work and watch a good movie and forget that we are having marital problems or that a financial burden is growing larger and larger.

However, we are taught to press on with our eyes focused on Him. In the book of Philippians, Paul says, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). This is coming from someone who HATED Christians so having to forget that lifestyle and straining towards Christ must have been an incredible challenge for Paul. But he pressed on towards Heaven!

Next time you or I hit that brick wall, what will we do? Sit down and rest and relax? Or, will we press on knowing that we can do ANYTHING and get through ANYTHING if our eyes and hearts are focused on God?

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

What 9/11 means to me now

Has it really been nine years ago since 9/11 happened? Really? It seems like it was something that just happened yesterday and something that happened about 25 years ago. I can tell you exactly where I was throughout the entire day.

My roommate and I were heading to campus at the University of Missouri for classes for the day. As he drove, we heard on the radio that a plane had flown into a World Trade Center. They thought it was a small plane and that was all that they had heard. When we got to campus, I did not have class for a few hours so I went to Ellis library. As I got there, they had a small television with about 100 students watching. We watched as the second tower got hit and knew there was a major issue. We all tried to get to the computers to find out what was going happening. Remember, this was when high speed internet was only a few years old and it could not handle all of us going to the’s of the web. I found a way around it by going to a more familiar site, They were covering what was going on as well. The rest of the day turned into a blur. I hung out in Speaker’s Circle for awhile and watched adults sobbing, praying, holding each other; but most of us were just in shock.

Everything stopped in America. No flights for a few days, no sports, no other news other than all that was going on in New York, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, PA.

About a week later, baseball returned to a game with the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets. It was the hardest I had ever cried watching a game. The reason I cried was two-fold I think. Remembering what had just happened was the obvious reason; however, it showed that we knew that as a country, we had to go forward and show we can come back from this. What is more American than a simple baseball game.

9/11 is my generation’s Pearl Harbor or Kennedy Assassination. You will never forget where you were and how things changed. Nine years later, things sure have changed. 9/11 will always be my son’s half birthday. 6 months ago, Cameron was born at 2:15am.

The following are two songs and two videos I watched or listened to a lot after 9/11. Never forget. To those who lost those on that day as well as those who have lost loved ones while fighting for freedom.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Does listening to music move you?

There are not many things my mother and I shared while I grew up. I was a rough playing sports loving school, not a fan of boy and she was a mother who really, really wanted a girl to have afternoon tea with and take trips to the ballet. I think she is secretly wanting me to have a girl now so she can have that or more or less, so I can experience something similar to what she went through, raising someone who has none of the same interests as you. Well, we had a few.

One of those things was an artist she introduced me too when I was a teenager. It was an artist whom I had sung some of his music in Sunday school and in church service; however, was not 100% familiar with the name. So I borrowed the CD, then I think she gave up and just bought herself the CD. She had no problem doing that because of who the artist was and what he stood for in his life.

The name of the artist is Rich Mullins. The man was an INCREDIBLE songwriter for God. He was a devout Catholic who lived on an Indian Reservation in New Mexico. He never played these large concerts but he had a serious following. He played many intimate shows and did as many as he could so he could try and connect with as many people as possible. He preached the word in his music. He wrote songs about how awesome our God is as well as songs about seeking Him daily. If you go through the list of songs he wrote, you have in doubt sang them in church. He led the way when it came to worship leaders; however, he would never claim that. He was someone who gave ALL credit to Christ.

In just under two weeks, it will be 13 years since he passed away in a car accident in Illinois. There are times I still listen to his songs and it is hard not to get choked up. I wonder what it would have been with him writing songs for another five years down here. However, then I think of what he has done in heaven praising God playing his music. It makes me smile just thinking about it. He was down here long enough to engrain Christ’s message into our lives.

A few are below. The second one is one of his last concerts he performed in Lufkin, Texas. If you go to the video, you can see all the parts. I encourage you to listen to the music and his message in between the songs. What a powerful vessel he still is today, almost 13 years since he went home.