It seems like every week, two or three people will call me or send me an email about some new youth sports league or a notice that a league, which has been around for years is about to start up again.
Just last week, Tooele High School honored two men as new members of the THS Wall of Fame. They deserved the recognition based on their performances as athletes while in high school, but what I found interesting was the fact that they both continue to devote their time to helping young people learn how to play football and the fundamentals of wrestling.
Also, at Stansbury, Grantsville and Tooele high schools I see a plethora of volunteers out on the football field on Friday nights helping coach the players, although plethora is probably not part of some of these men’s vocabulary.
I’m not very good at it myself, but I’m realizing how crucial volunteerism is to society. During my time on the planet I’ve benefited from volunteerism in many ways.
Little League Baseball was thrilling and I looked up to the coaches throughout my years of playing. I remember one coach driving up to the practice field every evening after working a long shift at a lime plant. He was a bit of a free spirit and I enjoyed his antics. I don’t know how much he actually knew about the nuances of baseball, but he made things fun. One of our teams even made a post-season trip to a tournament in California — what an adventure for a 12-year-old boy.
One gentleman in Grantsville used to teach tennis lessons and taught me how to serve the ball. The motion seemed weird at first, but when I could see that by following his method the ball ended up dropping right down into the place I was trying to put it, I was delighted. I thought I had just learned an amazing secret that would help me win a lot of matches. Even if it didn’t lead to victories, it felt good to somewhat master a new skill.
My father was a scout master when my older brother was a Scout and again when I was Scout. I appreciated his effort even if our troops were a little undisciplined. Imagine all the countless hours donated by Scout leaders throughout the world and throughout the years. Imagine the untold stories of how they helped young men learn new skills, enjoy the great outdoors and collect fascinating stories to tell.
I have one niece who pushed volunteerism to a high level a few years ago by working several months for AmeriCorp and Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
I witnessed volunteerism locally back in 1983 when people throughout Tooele County came out in throngs to divert flood waters. I remember large groups of people filling sandbags and some donating heavy machinery in the fight against the floods.
And then there are the amazing efforts of volunteer firemen, search and rescue crews, hospice workers, disaster clean-up, emergency medical technicians and all groups associated with public health and safety.
Young people who join the military may be seeking adventure and benefits later on, but undoubtedly there are many who are great patriots who love their country and freedom. Some end up sacrificing their lives serving their nation.
Best of all, volunteerism does wonders for the volunteer. In the words of G.K. Chesterteron, “How much larger your life would be if yourself could become smaller in it.”