The blocks came flying!

Let My Laughter Resound!


After more than a half century, I still can relive that rather dramatic moment, when, as a young teen in junior high (Fountain, Colorado), I sat with a dozen other young teens in a math class. I never was at that time very ‘sharp’ in math, and I have never been very ‘sharp’ since that time in math. I made passing grades, but I certainly was not recognized as a ‘bright student’ (in math or in any other subject). Probably because I did not quickly grasp my required material (in my text books), I customarily (rather boldly) held up my hand (probably more than I should have) to get the teacher’s attention.

The math teacher – a man who was rather ‘forward’ in his personality – was well-liked in the school. He was a respected coach whose players performed to near their potential! I enjoyed this man as my track coach, in spite of the fact that he could be rather ‘demanding’, and he usually was in the ‘face’ of the players. He was the coach that ‘pushed me to perform’ – to ‘go the extra mile’ in running and in preparation for the ‘tough track meets’. We runners worked hard ‘for him’ and for the entire team, and for the honor of our school.

I remember that one time – a few days before the State Track Meet – this coach got into his old jeep, and, on a country road the entire track team of junior high boys (including myself) was told by the coach to run on that country road – with the coach in his jeep behind us. If we boys started slowing our running pace, the coach would simply start honking his horn! In other words, keep running and don’t slow down, for, he told us, we had to be prepared for the state meet (where the competition would be fierce).

The training ‘paid off’, for our team did very well, in a few days, at the State Track Meet! Looking back, after the elapse of more than five decades, I would guess that this beloved (hard-driving) coach probably enjoyed coaching, more than he enjoyed teaching academic subjects. Of course, typically, coaches are required to teach a few academic classes (like math or social studies), as well as coach some sports. Coach Campbell was no exception.

For some reason, in his math class, I could not understand the concept of ‘cubes’. I understood the concept of ‘squares’, but not ‘cubes’. As I recall, I put up my hand to get the teacher’s (coach’s) attention, and I kept asking the same basic question regarding ‘cubes’. Finally, this rather impulsive and ‘in your face’ type coach, lost his patience with me. He was so frustrated that I did not understand a rather simple concept in math.

He had tried to illustrate the concept, by the use of some actual ‘blocks’ (cubes). The visual aid, obviously, was used to ‘make clear’ the mathematical concepts. I was sitting in the back of the small classroom, quite a distance from the teacher’s desk.

The next thing I knew, the frustrated (angry) teacher – who could be quite ‘impulsive’ in his actions – threw some of the wooden objects (cubes) right at me! He said something like: “There, now do you understand?” To be honest, I did not yet understand the meaning of ‘cubes’ (and the formula to figure out ‘cubes’), but I did know that I had ‘pushed’ this teacher/coach too far! I had offended him, I had agitated him, I had exhausted his patience with me!

I obviously was embarrassed that this happened! I was embarrassed, not only for myself, but for my fellow students, and for the teacher himself! He, too, probably was embarrassed for himself, but I don’t recall that he ever apologized to me.

Through the passing years, when I have thought about this simple (isolated) event from my young teen years, I have not felt any resentment towards this coach. In fact, I have gotten a few ‘laughs’ for myself, and I have even (rarely) recalled this event to others, to allow them to get a chuckle from this rather strange event.

I was surprised, obviously, when the blocks were coming through the ‘air’, aimed right at me, but I knew (even then) that I must not be overly-sensitive regarding the embarrassment I felt. I had become a Christian a short time before this incident, and God gave me the ‘grace’ to maintain my respect and my love for this coach.

This coach did so much for me, during the few years that he was my track coach in junior high. He gave me a high goal to reach for – in running. A few years later, when I went to high school, I continued to do well in my ‘running career’. I also did some competitive running in College! Throughout my adult life, I consistently ran for recreation, and I regularly competed in many races that were conducted in our community.

Several times I received first and second place trophies in my age category. I have about a dozen trophies, displayed in my own office. Coach Campbell was the one who got me ‘started’ in my ‘running career’ – a career that has lasted for several decades. I owe him a great debt of gratitude! I hope to give him a huge hug, in heaven! By God’s grace!

Several years ago when I was visiting my old home town (Fountain), I determined to ‘look up’ Coach Campbell. I wanted to go to his front door, and I wanted simply to tell him how much I appreciated him – his positive influence on my life, and his great contribution to me in my ‘running career’.

I wanted to thank him for being a good leader in my life. (Of course, obviously, I would not mention the now ‘laughable’ incident in his math class). I discovered the house where he lived, and I anticipated seeing him, when he came to the front door. When some ‘stranger’ came to the front door, I asked to see Coach Campbell. My heart sank when she simply said: “He is not here. He is dead, He died of a heart attack!”

I greatly respected this great man – this outstanding coach! Yes, it is true that I frustrated him to such a degree, that he felt he needed to throw a few ‘blocks’ at me. Yes, it is true that he ‘drove’ me to the ‘brink of my running endurance’ as he honked and honked his horn at me (and other boys) on that country road.

In spite of his oddities (and he had several oddities), I loved him and I appreciated his desires to help me to grow up and to become a man! His disciplines, aimed at me (and at so many other students) simply proved that he was a caring human being.

I believe that he respected ‘my faith’ in Christ, although I don’t think he had very accurate information regarding the religion of Christianity. As I recall, there was one occasion in which he and I were alone (maybe walking together). In the ‘dim recesses of my mind’, I verily recall a conversation that I had with him, in which he respectfully asked me about my personal faith in God.

His eternal destiny (as is true of everyone) is in the hands of a merciful God. In the end, I believe that God will judge the ‘condition of the heart’, not the ‘accuracy of the head’. God knows and loves!

“Biblical Foundation For The Sanctity Of Human Life!”

Table of contents: Let my laughter resound!


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