Jay Lenkersdorfer

I am writing this column the morning after Burley resident, Tyson Cole, unexpectedly passed away in a tragic accident. If you don’t know Tyson or his family you have really missed out on knowing an awesome family. Tyson wasn’t one to see an injustice and let it go without doing something about it. One such subtle experience involved me as my wife and I watched our son, Aaron, play high school football.

I tend to be the kind of parent that will criticize my own kids as they play sports, but I remain silent when other people’s kids occasionally mess up. During one game where Aaron was playing both ways, as an offensive tackle as well as a defensive tackle, I was a little too negative. Playing both ways leaves little time for an athlete to catch their breath, something that was evident during that particular home game.

Late in the game, which we were losing, I hollered at my son to ‘get moving’ or ‘run faster’ on one play. Clearly I was a little too loud because on the very next play, Tyson Cole, who was sitting a few rows in front of us, stood up and cheered Aaron for his efforts. “That was for you,” my wife whispered as she elbowed me in the ribs. Tyson’s cheering for my son helped me realize that even when a kid isn’t making the tackle or blocking a pass, he can still be putting in a good effort. Tyson’s subtle actions taught me a valuable lesson that I should have already known and followed.

When I look at the people in my life that have set the example for me to follow I am humbled by the importance each one of them is on my life. Often the best lesson isn’t one that is spoken, rather it is one that is demonstrated. Had Tyson turned around and lectured me on my negative comments to my son I doubt that I would have learned a thing, but his subtle method of showing me how I should have been acting had the greatest impact on me and my future as the parent of an athlete.

My father was the youngest of nine children. His father had passed away when he was only six years old, so he had almost no male influence in his upbringing. His only brother was the oldest of the nine children and he was out of the house before my father turned eight. His role models were largely the men in his church who reached out with a guiding hand to help him through his formative years.

As a middle child, number six of ten, I was often critical of my dad not always being around to support me. What took me years to recognize was that my father worked between 70 and 80 hours each week to make a living for his family. He was up early and often didn’t make it home until I was already in bed and asleep. He repeated these efforts every day of every week until his family was raised and out of the house. When he did finally retire, selling his business to my oldest brother, he seemed to be lost. He passed away at the age of 68, far too young.

One of the greatest lessons I learned was from my mother. I can only think of one time in the 19 years I lived at home where my mom disagreed with my father in front of their children. I’m sure that behind doors they had more debates and disagreements, but we were never exposed to them. As I look at my siblings I feel this is a lesson we have all practiced within our own families.

As the reddish-brown hair on my head gradually changes to gray I can now watch my own children repeat many of the same mistakes they learned from watching me. We try to be as hands-off with our grandchildren as our parents have been with us, but it’s easy to say and hard to do. Even when we occasionally disagree with our kids on how they are raising their children, their ways are more in tune with the things that are happening in the world today. If anything, the progress of the modern day is just making a parent’s job much more difficult. We are grateful to be having a secondary role in their upbringing.

P.S.  Please pray for the families that have been impacted by the recent accident involving Tyson Cole. If you can help them deal with the cost of a funeral or any other expenses please do so. Morrison Payne Funeral Home is taking care of the funeral.

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