You can’t beat someone who doesn’t quit…

Dear Chris,

Two years.  Yesterday was two years since God called you home, brother.  It doesn’t get any easier with time.  I miss you like crazy bud.  You may be gone, but nobody will ever take your legacy.  You changed the way I see the world.  You changed the way I live my life.  You changed the way I walk, the way I talk and the the way I look in the mirror.  I make a lot of mistakes, but I will never forget you telling me “you can’t beat someone who doesn’t quit.”  I will never quit and I will never stop trying until the day God calls me home by your side.

I am back to coaching.  I bet you remember sitting in basic training when I got letters from some of my players.  We had the time of our lives reading those letters.  You told me you were going to come coach with me one day.  Well, I am here to tell you this year you are.  I sat there yesterday at practice as I watched the offense run plays and I’ll be honest, I had a tear roll down my face.  You should see the way these young men are coming together to support each other.  They remind me of you and I.  They remind me of the day you came back to get me and carried me for what felt like miles.  Your legacy is there with us on that field every single day.

As I sat there yesterday with that tear rolling down my face I remembered back to the day we needed to cross that giant wall.  I remember you walking up to me as I stood there with my jaw open wondering how the hell am I going to get my team over this wall.  You stood shoulder to shoulder with me and you said six words I will never forget.  You said “Well, you can’t do it alone.”  To this day I if someone asked me why I trusted you with my life from the moment I met you I wouldn’t have an answer, I just did.  You were as genuine as it gets.  Moment after moment you put every body else before yourself.  You constantly put your neck on the line for me, and you never left my side.  You were there through the best and worst of times.  Countless times you showed me that you can’t go through life fighting battles alone but more importantly you showed me that you need to show people they can lean on you to fight their battles with them.

 

That is what I want to teach these young men I coach.  Not how to score the most points, but how to open your soul up to those around you and show the world what you are made of.  Show the world the strength God blessed them with.  Show their families the sons they have raised.  Show their teammates that no matter what, they will stand by each other until the end.  On and off the field.  Fight the good fight shoulder to shoulder.  And lastly, in those moments they feel weak like we did, to look to each other for strength.  Strength they never knew they had.  Strength they pull from the deepest depths of their soul.  Strength like you showed me I had.

 

I wouldn’t be here without you Chris.  I wouldn’t be the man I am without you.  God gave you a better vantage point now.  Watch over my players this year and keep us safe.  Use your strength to help me teach them what you taught me.

—- Natale

Spartans!

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