Recently, a friend let me read a letter of recommendation written by his son’s high school baseball coach. His son is applying to college and the letter was to introduce him to the head coaches at the various schools. It spoke of his strong skills and talent on the field, his exemplary work ethic, and how he inspires his teammates, arriving early for practice and being the last one out of the locker room. His academic credentials are top-shelf as well, as is his dedication to other extra-curriculars and community service.
Reading the letter, I was reminded of the dozens of recommendation letters I’ve read while serving on Eagle Scout boards of review. Many such letters were written by sports coaches, which spoke of similar traits on and off the field. Eagle Scout boards of review get to read an assortment of letters from various perspectives – sports, academics, faith, employment – and reading all the letters in succession can assemble a mosaic of the Scout’s character and experience.
For those who can play a sport and play it well, and who can catch the eye of an important athletic program at the next level, it can be a pathway to success. But such talent is rare and is only one way to achieve greater things. Very few programs come close to Scouting in giving that opportunity to a large cross-section of young people.
I’m very happy for my friend’s son. He’s clearly a skilled athlete, an intelligent student and an outstanding citizen. He’s on track for success in life even if athletics fails to pan out. Not everyone can excel at sports or use it as a ticket to success in life – only a very small percentage do – but Scouting is available to all youth. It’s our responsibility to make that opportunity happen.
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