I sighed and tore myself away from my sewing machine and phone. I didn't particularly feel like playing disc golf today, even though I knew I'd be happy once out in the field. I scuffed up the gravel road with my worn out Converse and got in a good fifteen or more minutes of solid practice, wearing my favorite tee spots ever smoother.
Then a man with two dogs entered my field—I mean—the field. I grimaced. I can throw my disc (almost) just fine when I'm out there alone, but when they are others around I get nervous about potentially hitting them, and my throws become more erratic. My frown deepened a few minutes later when a woman and child carrying armfuls of puppies joined the man in the field. The puppies looked adorable, but the sun was about to set, and I'd lose practice time if went to talk with the family. I love more disc golf more than puppies. Heresy, I know.
A few minutes after that, when my throws had reached their end of the field, I saw the kid walking toward me. I had a choice in that moment: grudgingly speak with the six-year-old or smile and seize the opportunity to share my passion for this sport. I'm so happy I chose the latter.
For about thirty minutes, I played with him and taught him proper throwing technique and showing him the different kinds of discs. He was quick as a whip. He realized from the start that my putter was different from a regular frisbee. Also, he noticed the difference in the shape and size of the discs and analyzed them. After he tried a couple throws, he wanted to watch me throw, and I noticed he try to imitate my movements later on.
It was incredible getting to teach such a willing and smart kid. My only regret is I'm not the greatest teacher and my skills are so limited. I wish I knew someone amazing at the sport in the area who could show him more than I.
When the street lights began to kick on, his mother called him back. He handed the disc back to me and ran over to her in his little cowboy boots.
My mother had struck up a conversation with his parents and offered to help carry the seven Autralian Herding Dog pups back to their RV. I joined the group and got to hold one of the three-week-old darlings as well. It was so small, my putter felt heavier than the creature. It had blue eyes, fur softer than velvet, and paw pads smooth as a newborn's skin.
The highlight for me in all this, though, is the investment into the next generation. I often hear people in the professional disc golf world say "Grow the sport" or "Give back to the community." I didn't really understand the motivation behind those sayings until tonight. There is so much more joy in sharing and giving than simply enjoying the sport on my own. I have no idea how my willingness and investment could change this kid's life. He could become a pro someday, or a tournament director, or simply find an outdoor activity that he loves. Maybe, maybe not, but I got to be a part of his life, and, if nothing else, encourage him in something new.
I shake my head in awe as I think: I wouldn't have had that precious time with him if I hadn't chosen to pull myself away from the screen and machine.
Gott ist gut.