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Championship win

Published: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 9:26 a.m. CDT

CLARKE WINS! Congratulations to Coach Lindsay Diehl and the Lady Indians, 2014 Class 3-A State Champions!

But wait, you already knew that, didn’t you. It’s old news, but it’s news that never gets old!

The thing is, there was much more to the season than a game played at 2:30 p.m. last Friday.

There were preseason games, then conference games, then playoff games, then state tournament games, and all of those happened prior to, “The Big Game.”

And, while the team didn’t win every single game they played, they kept working hard, learning, training and playing until they reached their ultimate goal — a state championship. It took faith and heart, two ingredients for all success stories. Case(s) in point:

Although it’s been more than seven decades since Babe Ruth played baseball and most of his records have been eclipsed by others, he’s still recognized as the greatest slugger who ever lived.

Time after time, Ruth stepped up to the plate and hammered one out of the park (much like Carley Robins last Friday).

Every survey and ranking lists Babe among the “greatest of the greats” — usually at the top of the heap. It’s no wonder the old Yankee Stadium is still known as “The House that Ruth Built.”

There’s another major league record holder worth noting. His name was Eddie “Cocky” Collins, who played as an infielder for the Athletics and White Sox.

Collins played in the early 1900s, and several seasons overlapped with Ruth. Like Babe, Collins was at the top of his game. He led the Athletics to four pennants and three World Series titles. He was selected as the league’s most valuable player in 1914 (Babe Ruth’s rookie season.) One sportswriter recently called him the greatest second baseman in history.

Cocky Collins set a record that still stands today — almost a century after he retired from baseball. He is the all time major league BUNT leader. 512 bunts! That’s over 100 more than the guy in second place.

So, we have two baseball greats before us — one is famous for home runs and other (not so famous) for bunting.

At first glance, holding the bunting record seems less than inspiring. Home runs are much more exiting. The crowd, for instance, doesn’t go bananas when a player decides to lay down a sacrifice bunt.

With a deeper look, however, a bunt is a many splendid thing. Sacrificial acts for others are, indeed, noble and praiseworthy. We should all assume this posture as we relate to the people around us. The most valuable players in any team, business or organization are those who ask “How can I serve you?” Rather than “How can YOU serve ME?”

Those who selflessly invest their lives behind the scenes to help others advance are the greatest heroes — I think of teachers, medical workers, mothers, cooks, technicians, nurses, custodians, mentors, secretaries and other support staff. The world couldn’t exist without these unsung heroes.

This is what I saw in the 2014 Clarke Lady Indians. They adopted the position that, “It doesn’t matter who gets the credit, as long as the team is moving forward in the right direction.”

Here’s how Jesus said it, “13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

(John 15:13, NLT)

So there are two lessons here. The first, from Babe: Swing for the fence. The Bambino didn’t hold back. He didn’t hesitate. He went for it and took the necessary risk. He committed himself FULLY and didn’t just play it safe. The second, from “Cocky” Collins: Give yourself away. Be willing to sacrifice for others.

And the overall lesson? Well, God put it this way in Ecclesiastes 9:10: Whatever presents itself for you to do, do it with all your might.

Bottom line?

Have a heart like “Cocky” Collins with a faith like Babe Ruth.

When it comes to serving others — make the sacrificial bunt.

When it comes to taking bold steps of faith — swing for the fence.

It takes both to win, as the Lady Indians taught all of us this summer.

Thanks, Coach Diehl and Lady Indians, for a phenomenal season, and CONGRATULATIONS on the state championship! You’ve worked hard and set a great example of hard work, dedication, sacrifice and determination. Lessons all of us would be wise to learn.

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