I just finished the book Cardboard Gods by Josh Wilker. Great book. Let me type that again, Great book. Thanks to Providence head coach Lou Lefevre for the gift for perceived help that he thinks I gave him recently (that's what friends are for Coach). To give you some insight on the book, Wilker writes of his youth and growing up with his baseball cards as the focus. Again...one more time...great book!
Reading it helped me remember many things from my youth, some things I didn't probably care to remember, but things that influenced me, made me who I am. As I have thought about these times and places who made me who I am they are invariably tied to people. People who helped me along the way. I don't know if they did it for themselves or for me or some combination, but they deserve thank yous. I can't write every single one because I will forget, but I will try and hit the major people.
Elizabeth and David Hunter, my parents...thank you. You were patient with me as I grew up, making mistakes, finding my way. You were probably too easy on me in my early 20's and should have just thrown me in the lake and said "sink or swim", but you didn't and you knew I would figure it out. From my mom I get my competitiveness and lack of patience against how things should be. From my dad, I got my love of reading and the understanding (eventually) that there is something greater in life than baseball or basketball (by the way, it took having children to fully understand this dad). If it hadn't been for them, I would not be where I am and I lean on them often. They may not always realize it because they raised me to be an independent person, one who only calls when something is wrong with my car (I know nothing about automobiles).
My grandparents. Francis Stiles Hunter, my paternal grandmother for playing with us grandkids when we were young and making chocolate pie and letting me spend the night on your feather mattress you would pull out. Gilbert Hunter, my paternal grandfather...thanks for sharing your stories of WWII and your love for baseball (my first sports love). Altha Lee Schrader Jones, my maternal grandmother, thanks for loving me unconditionally and Frank Jones, my maternal grandfather for being such a wonderful example of what a good man is. I didn't realize it at the time, but thinking back about your life and what I remember, you remind me of what my father in law is like today.
My sister, Jennifer Hunter Hayes. Thanks for letting me beat you up, thanks for being there so I could pummel you in any sporting event we played (she was 3 1/2 years younger), but you also taught me the disappointment of defeat and that is why I would let you not lose as bad sometimes.
Thanks to my teachers in elementary from Mrs. Collings in kindergarten to Mrs. Beardsley, Mrs. Rury, Mrs. White, Mrs. Scott, Mrs. Schafer, Mr. Young, Mrs. Douglas, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Rademacher, Mr. Holt, Mrs. Cissell and Mr. Richmer as a senior in Government class. You all challenged me in different ways.
Thanks to David Badger my little league coach who was a patient man, he had to be to deal with us...I can't imagine coaching little league anymore.
Thanks to Terry Rademacher. He was my high school coach in basketball, baseball, and I had him in a math class every day for four years in high school. I think I am a mixture of him and my dad (two very different people) when it comes to coaching and teaching.
Thanks to my best friends when I was younger. Brian Seale and Erik Furnish. Brian allowed me to live with him before I was married and after that first marriage ended. He never hesitated to take me in, and even though we didn't talk about life in too much detail, we did pontificate a few times. And Erik Furnish, my friend from high school who I still spend some time with. We always talk and we both always seem to have an opinion, sometimes not the same, but who can tell, he is ever the devil's advocate.
Thanks to coaches like John Bradley who taught me you can be a good guy and be a good coach and Jim Matthews who showed me, along with Coach Bradley, how to treat people the right way. Thanks to Coach Dennis Holt for teaching me how to be professional as you coach and how to conduct yourself.
Thanks to all of my friends and acquaintances (and yes even those girls who broke my heart and maybe a few I broke theirs) who have helped me, formed me, shaped me and changed me through the years.
Thanks to my in laws Anita Brown McKinley, Jim McKinley, and Megan McKinley. Your Christian example and how you have lived your lives and how you live your lives is a great comfort to me. Thank you for not crying and fighting that I date your daughter (especially you Anita) and to Megan for getting up every day and being a great example to my kids and other people who are in your life for the way you deal with your adversity. An adversity that many, many, many people have gained strength from (she had a heart transplant at 2 years of age).
I tried once to list all of the people who have affected my life and made me who I am today and when I started I left names off. So I won't do it here, but I will say this, if you know me then you are one of them. If your name was left off this list it isn't because you weren't important to me because I may have only met you once or many times and you may have taught me what to do, but you very well could have taught me what not to do, but you are important and to you all, I say thank you.
Finally, my wife Kristi McKinley Hunter. They say that you will not believe in Jesus until you are ready, well I thank God for sending me an angel like Kristi when I was ready. It was her silent patience and confidence in me that saved my soul. It is her continuing to stand by me that gives me the confidence to get up every day and continue to fight the good fight. Without her, I would survive, but that's all it would be survival. It would not be the wonderful journey that my life has taken since we went on that first date (yes, 9/11/01). But special thanks to her that she gave me the two most influential people I have ever met!!!
Madison and Brandon Hunter. My two children make me want to be a better person every day, all the time. I want to set a great example for them to emulate. As a psychology/sociology teacher, I understand how much your parents can affect you and as a child of two great parents I understand it also. Thanks kiddos for teaching me true love, true aggravation, true affection, and true frustration. Thanks for unconditionally loving me (at least for now just wait you won't someday) because I will always unconditionally love you.
So if you are reading this and you have made it this far, sit down and think about the people who got you where you are. Trust me, I doubt seriously that you made it strictly on your efforts, motivation, and genius. There are those who picked you up when you were finished, there are those who motivated you when you were finished, and there are many people who are smarter than you (as with me) who maybe didn't get where you are. Think about them, drop them a letter or write a blog about them.