For over a century one sports tradition has survived; the awarding of the game ball. At the end of every football game the coach or captain awards a certain player for their significant positive impact on the game. You often hear speeches from the coach about how the player is deserving of the game ball. His toughness, selflessness, aggressiveness, encouragement, professionalism, skills, ability, and heroism are all lauded in the post-game conversation.
Well, as many of you know, I experienced the ending of one game in my life this summer. As I look back at the contest, I realize that there was one person who deserves a “game ball” from me. This passionate, tough, aggressive, encouraging, heroic titan of youth development took me under his wing and helped me become a better leader, a better father, a better friend, and a better me.
His selfless example of dedication to ALL children and their families gave me an unlimited reservoir energy and determination to do my job and do it well. His nearly three decades of perseverance and leadership in and for the community of Kalamazoo motivated me to “bring it” everyday for our children and our future.
His undeniable love and protection of his beautiful daughter and precious wife helped me to try to improve my efforts at home. He has no fear of politics or piles of poo-poo that too often dominate the social service sector. He just works for kids and families. Period.
His approach to life is a witness to balance. While facing some of the most idiotic, complex, heart-breaking issues; he and I would always find time to laugh.
His “take no prisoners” approach to accountability and responsibility in the community serves as a remnant of good days gone by.
He is the reason I played the game. Any accolades I received are in part because of his friendship and example.
I’m proud to be his friend. I’m blessed to be his mentee. I am safe as his friend. I’m better because I know, love, and appreciate the winner of today’s game ball…
Bob, b.k.a., 4D Man, a.k.a., Robert Ezelle
Thanks to you my friend,
P.S. Support the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Kalamazoo and the Douglass Community Association…Our community counts on them!