Greetings Sacred Path Community,
“This is about what kind of people we want to be, what we represent. This is bigger than us"
Those words, spoken by Western Michigan’s coach Tim Lester, sums up what it means to be a mindful man as well as a mindful team. I’m going to share with you why Coach Lester expressed those sentiments which highlighted for me and undoubtedly for many who attended the USC/Western Michigan football game on Saturday a magic moment.
Before doing so, I want to remind you that we are a little more than 6 weeks from the kick off of our 31st Annual Fall Sacred Path Men’s Retreat. The early discount registration was to end this Thursday the 7th. However, due to the Fund Raising Concert for Firefighter’s Down on Monday, September 11th, we have decided to extend the discounted fee through Monday, September 18th, to give those who learn about the retreat at the concert a chance to benefit from the fee reduction. We’re also offering an additional reduction for Veterans and First Responders. You will read about the concert and our amazing retreat program in this newsletter. If you haven’t already signed up, please register soon and spread the word about the concert and the retreat.
Another word about the retreat. In addition to a vast array of experiences to choose from we will offer three separate yet integrated breakout sessions on relationships. Anyone and everyone can gain something from the information that will be conveyed by our relationship experts. Among the multitude of gifts that you will walk away with, not least among them, will be what you take home to apply to your own relationships.
Now back to the magic moment on Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum that lifted the spirits of those of us who endured as long as possible the blistering 105 degree heat that caused at least half of the 60,000 in attendance to head for air conditioned shelter somewhere other than in the stadium by the third quarter.
You may have read about a young man who had lost his eyesight due to retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer. His dream was to become a Trojan and play on the USC football team. As a young boy he was taken under Coach Pete Carrol’s wing during his last coaching year at SC and then later adopted by the team as a walk on.
This Saturday, Jake Olson, the 20-year-old junior from Huntington Beach who is a long distance center, snapped the ball in his first official game and nailed it. “Certain things are bigger than the game,” USC special teams coach John Baxter said. L.A. Times sportswriter, Bill Plaschke, wrote, “This was one of those things, a moment during which all the statistics and expectations and hype around this Trojans football team was whittled into one small play for one giant of a kid.”
Plaschke stated that “USC coach Clay Helton saw how hard Olson had worked, knew how much he was loved, and figured he deserved the chance. He considered that perhaps the final moments against a big underdog like Western Michigan in the first game of the season would afford him that chance.”
Plaschke revealed the behind the scenes story that first Helton had to call Western Michigan Coach Tim Lester and ask for his help. The Broncos needed to know that they might be facing a blind center so that they could respond with the appropriate sensitivity. Helton called Lester and offered to make a most unique deal. The Trojans would not rush the Broncos’ first extra-point attempt if the Broncos would not rush an extra-point attempt involving Olson.
“Coach Helton told me what the kid meant to the team, I told him we’d be happy to be a part of it,” Lester said. So, indeed after W. Michigan scored its first touchdown and even though the extra point would tie the score the Trojans backed off.
Plaschke detailed that, “About three hours later . . . even though the score was a dagger in his team’s upset chances, good-guy Lester kept his part of the bargain. Before the Trojans’ extra point try, he called his defensive players together and gave them an impromptu speech that could serve as a manual for sportsmanship.”
“I told them the entire situation and said, ‘You can’t touch him, you can’t yell at him, everybody get down so it looks like a football play but nobody move,’” Lester recalled. “I told them, ’What we’re about to do is bigger than the game. This is about what kind of people we want to be, what we represent, this is bigger than us.’”
“And what did they say? They said, ‘Yes sir.’”
Plaschke summed it up, “And, yes sir, it was an amazing moment, everything great about sports emerging from this afternoon of pain and sweat, Helton and Lester shining like true leaders, the Trojans and Broncos acting like real men.”
“I commend and thank coach Lester and the entire Western Michigan family for giving us this honor,” Helton said. “That’s a first-class organization.”
And in the brotherly spirit of our good-natured cross town rivalry . . . a soulfull congratulations to Josh Rosen and UCLA for a truly remarkable "magic moment" comeback victory over Texas A&M yesterday!
So, the magic moment in any situation can stand out in the midst of any adversity that we are facing. There have been many examples of it during the tragic and horrific weather conditions that pummeled parts of Texas over the past several days. Mindful men and women are everywhere to be found. There will be many mindful men who will gather on “the mountain” for our 31st Annual Sacred Path Men’s Retreat, I trust that you will be one them
In the spirit of brotherhood,
Stephen J. Johnson Ph.D., LMFT
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Dr. Stephen Johnson is founder and executive director of the Men's Center Los Angeles and leader/wayshower of the Sacred Path men's retreats for the past 30 years. He is a gifted therapist and master facilitator for the experiential journey that unfolds during his counseling sessions and workshops. Dr. J is a skilled and seasoned psychotherapist who has the sensibilities of a wisdom teacher. He provides a safe space for freedom of expression in accessing one’s pain while fostering transformation, personal expansion and spiritual growth. Click here to visit www.DrStephenJohnson.com
Dr. Johnson is author of "THE SACRED PATH: THE WAY OF THE SPIRITUAL WARRIOR," an amazing how-to book for men who want to become better men . . . AND for the women who care about them.
The MCLA Wisdom Council honored Dr. J's amazing 30 years of mindful men leadership and mentorship with a special commemorative film that debuted on the mountain at the recent 30th Annual Sacred Path Men's Retreat. Click here to view "The Sacred Path."
USC's blind long snapper Jake Olson grateful after achieving "Lifelong Dream."