Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Power of Role Models

What a G
Typically, role models for young people in the 21st century are athletes who excel in their respective sports. Guys like Peyton Manning, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Albert Pujols and Landon Donavan are hailed by kids everywhere as people who they want to be like someday.

Quotes like “Duuuuude, check it! My jumper is as sick as Kobe’s!” or “Look at my swing! It’s as smooth as Albert’s!” is what I usually hear in my High School gym and baseball field. I even find myself saying this sometimes, even if it’s jokingly (Because a 5’ 11’’ white freshman guy that lives in Woodinville has a 0% chance of doing anything as an athlete in professional sports).

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We can all understand why aspiring High school athletes would say this, because, well, who wouldn’t want to possess the talents of some of the most well-known people in the world?

But there is a major downside to having the person you look up to be a famous athlete. Chances are very, very slim that the so called “ballers” at school (If you can even call a kid being a basketball star at a 1A school in Bellevue a baller) will ever meet LeBron or Kobe. These NBA superstars don’t have to time (or more likely, don’t care enough) to sit down with a kid at his house and discuss how they got to be where they are. It just doesn’t happen. Sorry, “baller”.

But when you meet your role models, and when they actually talk to you and seem to care about you, everything changes.

Sure, I look up to athletes because of their god given abilities. But I have other role models who I aspire to be not solely because of their athletic abilities, but even more so because of their character.

If you were wondering why nothing has been posted on the blog since June 20, it’s because I was down in California staying in houseboats on Lake Shasta with my church youth group. There was no cell coverage; otherwise I would’ve posted a couple things.

Anyway, there are these two guys. Senior guys to be exact.

Wait, hold the phone. Think back to when you were a freshman in high school. Regardless of what social status you had, and unless every senior in your school was/is a total jerk and were/are midgets, you looked up to them, figuratively and literally. It’s just the way High School works… Alright, so we have that established.

One of the things that happened on this retreat into the California sun was a lot of just hanging out on the top of the houseboats. And when you combine 85-degree weather and two genders, there is a lot of “Hey gurl, wanna hang out with my G’s on top of our houseboat and get yo’ tan on?” It wasn’t always like that, but you get the picture.

But let’s get back to those two senior guys. I had always looked up to them, and have even talked to them a bit over the last 9 months. And after just merely spending a couple minutes with these guys, I knew I wanted to be just like them. They’re confident, welcoming, realists, and just plain chill. These two future college basketball athletes aren’t consumed with the insignificant things in High School that will fade away over time, but see the big picture and seem to know what lies ahead for them in their lives.

So in four words, they’re my role models.

Instead of hanging out with girls 24/7 (not saying that’s a bad thing, or they didn’t do it at all), they asked me, a freshman, to hang out on their boat consistently. “Holy crap” I thought in disbelief. “Why the heck would they hang out with me?” Not only did they ask me to come over and be in their presence, but actually talked to me.

That simple, unpretentious act meant the world to me. The egos of most athletes were absent in Josh Jordan and Tanner Mahler (pictured at the top acting like a G), which made it possible to “accept” me.

Unlike kids who look to guys like Peyton Manning or Kobe Bryant for inspiration (not saying that’s a bad thing AT ALL) and have no hope of ever having a relationship with them that doesn’t involve fan letters, I find myself lucky to be able to call myself friends with two guys who I look up to.

So, the moral of the story is this: If you’re in any position of power, such as an athlete, being a senior, or whatever, know that even the most subtle act can mean the world to someone. It did for me when Tanner shouted across to my boat asking if I wanted to join his dance party (which consisted of us dancing like idiots to “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus), and it could mean the same to someone else.

And if you look up to someone that you have access to talking to, go out on a limb and take a chance to get to know him or her. It’ll tell you a lot about the person if they’re nice to you or shrug you off as an insignificant fool.

WORD, yo.

Follow Josh or Tanner on Twitter, and look out for Josh at Seattle Pacific University in the coming years, as the power forward will likely be red shirting this fall for his freshman year.

Reach Nathan Parsons at