~WINNERS AND WINNERS~
As a high school coach, I did all I could to help my boys win their games. I rooted as hard for victory as they did. A dramatic incident, however, following a game in which I officiated as a referee, changed my perspective on victories and defeats. I was refereeing a league championship basketball game in New Rochelle, New York, between New Rochelle and Yonkers High. New Rochelle was coached by Dan’O Brian, Yonkers by Les Beck.
The gym was crowded to capacity, and the volume of noise made it impossible to hear. The game was well played and closely contested. Yonkers was leading by one point as I glanced at the clock and discovered there were but 30 seconds left to play. Yonkers, in possession of the ball, passed off-shot- missed. New Rochelle recovered-pushed the ball up court-shot. The ball rolled tantalizingly around the rim and off. The fans shrieked. New Rochelle, the home team, recovered the ball, and tapped it in for what looked like victory. The tumult was deafening. I glanced at the clock and saw that the game was over. I hadn’t heard the final buzzer because of the noise. I checked with the other official, but he could not help me. Still seeking help in this bedlam, I approached the time keeper, a young man of 17 or so. He said, “Mr. Covino, the buzzer went off as the ball rolled off the rim, before the final tap-in was made.”
I was in the unenviable position of having to tell Coach O’ Brien the sad news. “Dan,” I said, “time ran out before the final basket was tapped in. Yonkers won the game.” His face clouded over. The young timekeeper came up. He said, “I’m sorry, Dad. The time ran out before the final basket.”
Suddenly, like the sun coming out from behind a cloud, Coach O’ Brian face lit up. He said, “That’s okay, Joe. You did what you had to do. “I’m proud of you.”
Turning to me, he said, “Al, I want you to meet my son, Joe.” The two of them then walked off the court together, the coach’s arm around his son’s shoulder.
Morning.yuck! Even though there were only a few more days of school left, it sure was hard getting there. The weather had been great all week, and besides the only thing going on a school was graduation practice. It wasn’t just me, either. All of my senior friends had a bad case of “Senioritis”. We really were struggling those last few days. At school my friends devised a play. “After lunch lets all go over to the outdoor pool and catch some sun,” they chimed in. “We’re not doing anything in class anyway,” they agreed. What they said made sense, and after all, we had already turned in our books in English anyway. When the bell rang for lunch we all went and jumped in my car. As I waited in the car while they each went in to get their suits, I wondered to myself, “Why am I doing
this?” But then I concluded what could it hurt? School was almost out for the year anyway. We pulled up to my house and I quickly ran inside to get my suit. I reached into my drawer and pulled out my light lavender swimsuit. Lavender… Purple….. Integrity,” I said to myself. How could I sluff school and go down to the pool wearing this swimsuit? All the things I had been taught in my mutual came back slamming me in the face. Right then I knew I couldn’t do it. I turned to my friends who were waiting impatiently for me. “Listen you guys, I can’t go swimming right now,” I told my friends. “If you want to wait till after school I’d love to go, but right now I can’t.” My lavender
swimsuit reminded me of how I should act at all times, and in all things, and in all places.
There was a tornado, which went through the city in which I live recently. Though we were not in the tornado’s path, we experienced very high winds, lots of rain, some hail, power and telephone outages, and flying debris. After the storm was all over, I went outside to survey the damage. To my surprise, the main part, including the top, of a tree just outside my bedroom window had fallen to the ground. If it had fallen at a slightly different angle, the tree would have landed on my bed.
There are many trees by my house. Many were the same size as this tree that fell. They experienced the same winds, rain, and hail as this tree, yet they stood firm. Why was this?
Well, I had noticed for quite some time that this tree that fell had a small split between its two main limbs. The wood in this small split had started decaying a little bit. It did not seem like a big problem, but this small split, given adverse circumstances, led to this tree being left with only one limb sticking straight out and no top at all! The other trees had no such split and remained strong throughout the storm.
People are like trees. People who do what they know is right are like those trees that stood firm during the storm at my house. They have integrity. They are unified within themselves. They are not weakened within, so when storms come into their life, they cling to their values and stand firm.
People who know that they should do one thing, but do another, are split. People who cannot decide if they will choose the right or the wrong are split. They may stand for a long time with this split and seem to be all right. We may see Latter-day Saint youth who go to drinking parties on Saturday and Church on Sunday. We may see people who are only as good as the crowd they are with because they let the crowd determine their behavior. These people may seem to do all right, even though they are split. The split
does not seem that dangerous and does not seem to cause problems.
Then, the storm comes. It may be a family problem or a health problem. It may be wrong ideas presented as true by a trusted individual. It may be normal problems just from growing up. It may be a very persuasive person who does not live good standards. It may be a very cool party. It may be Satan, seeing a chance to win another soul.
What happens to the people who are split? Just like that tree, if they enter the storm already divided, they can easily fall and break apart. When already weakened, it takes much less opposition and adversity for a person to break. Unfortunately, divided individuals often act against their values. It is easier to fall than fight. It is easier to slide than climb–not only for mountains, but for values. We need to be strong enough to fight, to climb, to stand firm during adversity. We must not be our own worst enemy by not
living our values, by living without integrity.
Storms come into every life. We are taught that earth life enables us to experience “opposition is all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). What we must do is be stronger than the opposition. We must live with integrity. We must be as the wise man who built his house upon a rock (Jesus Christ, his Gospel, and the standards he has given us) and whose house was not divided against itself (or we must be consistently righteous). Then, “when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down into the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock on which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build, they cannot fall.” (Helaman 5:12)
What You Are Is As Important As What You Do
By Patricia Fripp
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon in Oklahoma City. My friend and proud father Bobby Lewis was taking his two little boys to play miniature golf. He walked up to the fellow at the ticket counter and said, “How much is it to get in?”
The young man replied, “$3.00 for you and $3.00 for any kid who is older than six. We let them in free if they are six or younger. How old are they?”
Bobby replied, “The lawyer’s three and the doctor is seven, so I guess I owe you $6.00.”
The man at the ticket counter said, “Hey, Mister, did you just win the lottery or something? You could have saved yourself three bucks. You could have told me that the older one was six; I wouldn’t have known the difference.” Bobby replied, “Yes, that may be true, but the kids would have known the difference.”
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” In challenging times when ethics are more important than ever before, make sure you set a good example for everyone you work and live with.
Vaughn J. Featherstone
“King Louis had been taken from his throne and imprisoned. His young son, the prince, was taken by those who dethroned the king. The thought that inasmuch as the king’s son was heir to the throne, if they could destroy him morally, he would never realize the great and grand destiny that life had bestowed upon him. [Sounds exactly like Satan’s plan for us today! Destroy our morals and we never do realize who we are or why we’re here.] “They took him to a community far away, and there they exposed the lad to every filthy and vile thing that life could offer. They exposed him to food the richness of which would quickly make him a slave to appetite. They used vile language around him constantly. They exposed him to lewd and lusting women. They exposed him to dishonor and distrust. He was surrounded 24 hours a day by everything that could drag the soul of a man as low as one could slip. For over six months he had this treatment-but not once did the young lad buckle under pressure. Finally, after intensive temptation, they questioned him. Why had he not submitted himself to these things-why had he not partaken? These things would provide pleasure, satisfy his lusts, and were desirable; they were all his. The boy said, ‘I cannot do what you ask for I was born to be a king’ ” (“The
King’s Son,” New Era, Nov. 1975, p.35).
True at All Times
by Elder F. Melvin Hammond
An accident had left me weak and discouraged. But watching those beavers rebuild their dams time after time taught me a great lesson.
I was 17 years old and on top of the world. I had a university basketball scholarship, money in the bank from a hard summer’s work, a motorcycle and a pickup truck to drive, and all the aspirations of a typical teenager. Two months later I lay in a hospital bed with my body broken and my dreams shattered.
It was a motorcycle wreck-a head-on collision. No one was at fault. It was a stormy night. The driver of the car never saw my motorcycle coming. For two months I lay in bed. Then for six months I moved about on crutches. Weak and discouraged after months of inactivity and desperately needing money to continue my education, I began searching for summer employment.
I took a job with the railroad. Our crew was to patrol and repair a 15-mile stretch of track in a remote area called Little Warm River. Pine trees covered the mountains. Dozens of small streams meandered through the meadows. Large culverts had been placed under the railroad tracks to allow the streams to run freely, but beaver colonies would dam up each stream at the head of the culvert, creating a large reservoir with enough water pressure to wash out the tracks.
Volunteers were asked to crawl through the culvert and tear away the beaver dam, allowing the water to flow freely again. I always volunteered because no one else would, and, frankly, I rather enjoyed it. It was thrilling as I picked away at the dam, knowing that at any moment the water would break through and sweep me along with it head over heels, finally dumping me unceremoniously into the stream 15 yards away. There were times when I thought I would surely drown as I bumped along, submerged in that mighty flow of water and debris.
The next morning, as we would make our daily inspection, we could see that the beavers had already started to rebuild their dams. Within a short time, they would be totally reconstructed. It didn’t matter how many times we destroyed those dams, the beavers never seemed discouraged but steadily kept at their task. Those animals taught me a great lesson about never being discouraged, especially with things I could not control.
I loved that summer. The work was hard and sometimes I was homesick, but I recovered from the effects of that terrible motorcycle wreck. My body became strong once again. In the evening after