By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Mayor Ronnie came in having just gotten off a call with Alabama’s League of Municipalities, which inspired him to be extra grateful when he heard what other mayors are facing. He chuckled as he exclaimed, “I want to thank the people who make this community great — city employees, churches, businesses, EVERYBODY!” We talked for a few minutes about how we are in such a great town as well as in such perilous times. “China on one side, Russia on the other,” he said, and I replied, “Sometimes I feel like it’s 1939.” He countered with, “Thank God for this community; we have GOT to stay together.”
The mayor then headed toward the second in the series of John Ed Mathison’s Life Lessons From Sports, and read to me from a chapter entitled, “An Awesome Advantage Available To Anybody.” The story had to do with a little girl who wore a leg brace and came home one day to tell her father that she had won two of the races that day. Her dad was incredulous, and thought that perhaps the girl had been given some kind of advantage along the lines of a head start. No, she won it fair and square. It seemed as though she had read her father’s thoughts and told him, “Daddy, I didn’t get a head start, my advantage was to try harder.” Mathison commented, “Don’t you love that? If you try harder, it’s always an advantage. People who are successful in life are folks who try harder. Anybody can have that advantage.”
I replied with my own true story that just happened in the Winter Olympics. An extraordinary young woman by the name of Winter Vinecki was about 10 when I heard her speak at a Juice Plus convention. She lost her dad to prostate cancer, formed a non-profit called Team Winter to raise awareness of the disease, and blew the minds of those of us who heard her speak. She decided to become a freestyle aerial skier and during training had her fist fly into her face, shattering it. Winter recovered from that and was slated to go to the 2018 Olympics; then she tore her ACL. But now she is part of the US Olympic team and said recently, “First of all, just dream big and never let age, gender, race be a barrier. And at the end of the day, you have to work hard, but also have confidence in yourself along the way.”
Mayor Ronnie moved on to more sports inspirations, and few have had more of an impact than the legendary UCLA coach, John Wooden. Wooden was a mentor to players who were as different as Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Bill Walton, and greatly loved by both. Wooden didn’t take any guff, even when he would start off every season with teaching his players how to put on their socks. Why? To prevent blisters. And, there is far more to the John Wooden story, which is going to be covered in honor of March Madness coming up…
We prayed for our town, as we always do, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner