Tuesday, November 7, 2017

True Story

I think the best stories end in two words I am sure you have heard before: true story.

A storyteller only uses those words when something fantastic or incredible has been shared. And if you pay attention, the likelihood of repeating those words is high. True story....(people laugh)....true story. For someone to share this type of story and for me to hear it, is a gift. So here is my thank you note to those who have told me great stories, true stories and those that might be well, not so true.
Plato said, "those who tell stories rule the world." At one point in time, I loved this quote. I agreed. Those who can tell the stories—good ones— have a certain power. I've been mesmerized by both story and storyteller. Why? A good story nourishes my soul; a good story comes in unexpected places, from unsuspecting people at unpredictable times. But not always! Greg Boyle, SJ the founder of Homeboy Industries has said: "good stories come to those who tell them." Well, as a priest and a prophet, I find him deserving of the many stories he tells both from the pulpit on Sundays, in print through stories about his homies and now as a public speaker who travels nationwide to raise funds for what is the largest gang prevention service in the United States. I am, however, not interested in ruling the world. I'll leave that responsibility to someone else. I do however want to be a person who offers good stories. So I look and listen, pay attention and pray. I ask questions and search for answers—all with the hope of finding a good story. 

A person who finds a great story ought to share them. With social media, there are many ways to I also believe storytelling can be a ritual integrated into the classroom and with sports teams.

My friend Chrissa & I had a chance to tell
our stories of writing a book.
In "Pray and Practice with Purpose: A Playbook for the Spiritual Development of Athletes" I advise coaches to make time during the season for athletes, especially the seniors or the older members of the team to tell their story. Giving student-athletes the time and space to share their story is an important "team building activity." As seen in Chapter 4: Practice with Purpose, the context for this exercise is as f I never said it had to be a true one. Written as a "Team Building Activity" in the section on Team Building,

“Those who tell stories rule the world.”

In “31 Days to Becoming a Better Religious Educator,” Jared Dees offers—you guessed it—31 different and practical ways an educator in the faith can both improve their teaching skills and grow closer to Christ. Many of his suggestions work for coaches too. On Day 24, Dees writes

“Jesus had a preferred style of teaching: He told stories. Like Christ, you can use stories to provide your athletes with a deeper understanding of the important topics or concepts of what you want them to learn, appreciate and emulate. The more descriptive and engaging the story, the more memorable and meaningful it will be. You do not have to be a talented storyteller for your stories to make an impact on students. Simply the presence of verbal imagery connected with the real application will make a notable impact.”
I think one of the best stories an athlete can tell is their own story. They need a place to do it and a willing audience to hear it. Team gatherings can be a safe, supportive and important place to do that. 

In his book “A Teen’s Game Plan for Life,” former head football Lou Hotlz explains why (and how). He writes
“I feel that it is important for our football players to get to know each other better. Each night during two-a-day practices that are held before the season begins, I ask different players to get up and talk to the team about their backgrounds. It is unbelievable how the players come together when they understand what a person has gone through in their life. I can tell you that these meetings have moved me as deeply as they have the players.
This type of sharing is not all that uncommon on retreat. By why should it be limited to a time and space that is so different than our day-to-day reality? And why, given the amount of time athletes spend with one another each week during the season, shouldn’t they be privy to learn more about the story behind the position.

A wise colleague once told me “once you know, you cannot not know.” Giving teammates the opportunity to share who they are—where they came from, what that have overcome and what they hope for will certainly have an impact on the relationships and bonds that develop over the course of a season.

I had one junior on the junior varsity golf squad this season. Before our final match, she shared her golf story: how she started playing, what golf has taught her and what being a member of the golf team at St. Ignatius has meant to her. Her story was the ideal way to conclude our season. True story.

I've started to realize a significant reason I am both a Catholic Christian and a sports fan is because I love stories. Jesus used stories to preach and teach. His story, the story of his life, love, death, and resurrection is the greatest story ever told. And I sincerely believe he would appreciate many of the stories that come from sports. In "Carry On: A Story of Resilience, Redemption and an Unlikely Family," Lisa Fenn writes, 
I learned that sports shouldn’t be reduced to questions and answers. Sports can serve as a backup of resilience and a field of redemption, giving us a vehicle to move from who we are to who we wish to become. Sports are treasure troves of the heart’s greatest stories, some of which need to be held. 
Yes, they do. True story, implied.

Photo Credits

True Story

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