My wife came across the encouraging story of Henry Peterson. It appears in numerous places on the internet. I hope it encourages you as it did me.
The Georgetown Coach Lou Little stood on the sideline watching the players practice shaking his head in disbelief. It was a Monday morning and to say that some of the guys were tanking it in would be an understatement. He blew his whistle, called everybody together in the center of the field, and started to let them know his feelings.
After ranting about commitment and desire he turned and pointed to Henry Peterson. “Look at this guy” the coach, said “He’s been on our team for four years and never played a down. He’s first at practice and last to leave. He studies film, works out in his spare time and never complains when he doesn’t start. This guy is the glue that holds our team together. I wish you guys could follow Henry’s example more often.”
In Henry’s senior year, Georgetown had the best season in the school’s history. They were due to play Fordham University with their last game to win the state championship. This was the biggest game in the schools history, and excitement was at fever pitch.
The Monday prior to the game Coach Little was walking off the field after practice when Henry approached him. Henry said that his father had passed away that weekend and that there was to be a memorial service for him that Saturday. Much to the coach’s amazement, Henry apologized and said that he needed to be at the service.
Coach Little told Henry to go with his blessing and as a mark of respect the team would say a prayer for his dad before each practice and they’d also dedicate the game to his memory.
On the morning of the big game the Coach was in his office going over some last minute plans for the game when the door burst open and Henry walked in.
“Henry, what are you doing here, I thought it was the memorial service this morning.” Coach Little said.
“It was coach, but I felt like I had to be here. This has been my family for the last 4 years and I know my dad would want me to be here”
“Well ok, if you’re sure. Of course it’s great to have you”
“Coach, can I ask a favor?”
“Sure Henry, anything for you, you know that”
“Coach, I want to start today”
“Well Henry, I know I said anything, but I’m really not sure about that. This is the biggest game in the schools history”
“If you start me coach, I promise that the first missed assignment, dropped ball or mistake of any type you can pull me out the game.
The Coach looked hesitant, but he could see something in Henry’s eyes that made him believe that this young man wasn’t going to let him down.
“Well, ok Henry, but one mistake and you’re out, ok?”
“You got it Coach” and with that Henry turned and left the coach looking rather bemused.
That day Henry Peterson made 15 tackles and assisted in 11 more. He caused one fumble, recovered another and had an interception for the winning touchdown as Georgetown beat Fordham. He was voted Most Valuable Player and in short played the kind of game that people are talking about 60 years later.
After the game Coach Little ran onto the field and hugged Henry.
“Henry, why didn’t you tell me you could play like that, I had no idea. I could have used you for the last 4 years, but I never saw it in practice.”
“Did you ever meet my father Coach?”
“No, I didn’t have that privilege. I saw you walking round the field arm in arm with him a couple of times and I’m sorry now I didn’t come and say hello”
“Well coach, my father was blind and today was the first time he got to see me play football”