“Everybody Needs One”
By: David Money
There are many ‘buzz’ words, phrases and texting acronyms floating around today: ‘fake news’ – ‘going forward’ – ‘at the end of the day’ – ‘LOL’ – ‘SMH’ – “BFF” and countless of others. There is another one that has been around awhile…but, in the past few years, is being used more and more: ‘mentor.’ With the traditional family structure having undergone a drastic change over the years, there are many single parent families with children in need of a father or mother figure. Fortunately, there are many organizations addressing those needs (Boys & Girls Clubs, church groups, civic clubs, etc.) Although it has been around for centuries, we hear the term ‘mentoring’ used more today than ever before.
For me, mentoring began 50 years ago this spring. Our parents had divorced and I was living with my grandparents in Shorterville. I had no plans to go to college until Uncle Lindy paid my tuition and told me in no uncertain terms that I was going to Wallace Junior College (now Wallace Community College) and play on its first baseball team. He and his brothers (Bob, Coy, Jimmy, Hawley, Knocker) always made sure that I had a summer job, a little ‘jingle’ in my pocket and nice cars to date on each weekend (Chevy Impala Super Sports with 327’s and floor shifts – this was before we got into the Ford business.) Once at Wallace, I met the first non-family mentor I ever had – Wallace Baseball and Basketball Coach Johnny Oppert. He knew my family situation and realized that I may not be running with high character guys. He and Mr. Jack Carr had offices in the gymnasium and mandated that I report to them every day. They found me things to do (like going across campus to get hot water for Mr. Carr’s ‘sea rations.’) Years later it became clear that Coach Oppert gave me those menial jobs just so he could keep an eye on me – and make sure I stayed out of trouble. On baseball trips, he often assigned me to room with him. I no doubt learned more about life from him during those two baseball seasons than at any other time in my life. He taught me to be make good decisions (and to take full responsibility for the bad ones I did make) – as well as to be accountable to others, to be respectful of authority and try to live a life of integrity.
Coach Oppert still lives in his home town of Dothan and is now approaching 80. Although he is battling some medical issues, he continues to have that great sense of humor as well as that intense competitive spirit. On March 11th, Wallace College honored the first baseball team. Eleven of the fifteen players on that 1967 team returned to be recognized and honored in a pre-game ceremony.
The highlight of the day for me was hearing those guys express the same feelings about Coach Oppert that I have. We talked of his leadership, his discipline, his teaching and obviously his coaching. He was a mentor to most of us. On that Saturday, he was asked to throw out the first pitch before the Wallace /Alabama Southern game. I reminded him that when George Bush threw out the first pitch in old Yankee Stadium after the 9-11 tragedy, Derek Jeter told the president, ‘Don’t bounce it.’ You might remember that President Bush fired a perfect strike. Last Saturday, I told Coach Oppert that if he needed to move up to about half way between the mound and home plate, we’d all understand. He looked at me and said, ‘Are you serious!’ He nailed it…right down the middle. We never doubted he would.
Mentoring is not easy. It requires time, patience, understanding…and you have to have a heart for it. It’s a calling…a spiritual gift. And it’s needed more now than ever. I hope we never pass on the opportunity to be one for someone else. We all need one…and I’m thankful that in 1967 there was one there for me.
30 Day Update:
• February probate activity was as follows: four wills probated, two involuntary commitments, one guardianship/conservatorship, one administration, one legitimation, three final settlements, six miscellaneous hearings and ten marriage licenses issued.
• Citizens with last names beginning with ‘C’ or ‘E’ have today and tomorrow to renew your tags without penalty. Those with last names beginning with ‘F’ – ‘G’ – ‘N’ will renew your tags in April.
• March 2-5 – I was very honored to serve with 100+ others (including 25 to 30 Henry County citizens) on Bethlehem Walk to Emmaus #31 – your participation and service is always encouraged.
• March 7 – Attended the Wallace College Foundation Board meeting. Dozens of Henry County students benefit each semester from scholarships provided by the Foundation. Please check out scholarship opportunities available at: www.wallace.edu/scholarships
• March 11 – It was a lot of fun joining a dozen other guys from the first Wallace baseball team (1967) for a pre-game ceremony at the college. The Wallace staff made it a special day for us.
• March 13 – met with Ronnie Davis and board members of the Wiregrass R.C. & D Council as they awarded $32,000.00 in grants to various Henry County agencies. They are very community-minded.
• March 18 – A family engagement prevented me from attending the groundbreaking for the new addition at Greater Shiloh Baptist Church in Headland. Delvick and Lori McKay, as well as their church family, are involved in many things to help the citizens of Henry County.
• March 22 – I attended the SARCOA Executive Committee and Board meetings in Dothan.
Dates to Remember:
• April 3 – Wiregrass legislative delegation at the Dothan Chamber office today.
• April 4 – I look forward to the Community Wide Prayer Breakfast at 7:30 in the Dothan Civic Center. The speaker will be former University of Alabama and New York Yankee baseball player, Andy Phillips. (‘Bama’ & ‘Yankee’ go together like peanut butter & jelly.)
• April 4 – Scott Farmer from SEARP&DC will host an 11:00 public meeting in the Probate Court Room. Subject: “Human Services Coordinated Transportation Plan”
• April 6 – The Abbeville Chamber of Commerce will host students from the Henry County Youth Leadership Program at their noon luncheon today.
• April 6-9 – My favorite event on the sports calendar begins today – ‘The Master’s’ from Augusta National. That plus ‘The Final Four’ and the beginning of the major league baseball season are a few of the reasons that April (and October) are the two best sports months of the year.
• April 10 – Our Henry County Youth Leadership students will visit the Hyundai Assembly plant south of Montgomery – they will gain a better understanding of the world of robotics.
• April 11 – April Administrative meeting – 9:00 AM – Probate Court Room
• April 11 – April Commission meeting – 10:30 AM – Probate Court Room (Visit our meeting and have a chance to win a homemade pie.)
• April 14 – Good Friday
• April 16 – Easter Sunday
• April 17 – Headland Chamber Showcase – Headland Square – 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
• April 19 – The Henry County Youth Leadership students will visit the State House, the Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion today – this will be the final outing of the 2016/17 year.
• April 20 – Wallace College Foundation’s “Golf ‘Fore’ Scholarships” golf tournament at Highland Oaks in Dothan. Henry County student scholarships are funded through the efforts of the Foundation Board.
• April 24 – Confederate Memorial Day
• April 27/28 – The Alabama Probate Judges Association’s annual conference will be held at the Capstone Hotel and at the Alabama Law School in Tuscaloosa.
• April 27/30 – Bethlehem Walk to Emmaus #32 (Ladies Walk)