Although it may be odd to admit, I am so much like my father. Don’t get me wrong. My mom put her fair share of input on my development. I learned how to be kind, forgiving and just plain happy from her. But the older I get, the more traits I notice I’ve picked up from my dad.
1 . Being a nerd is AWESOME.
Education means everything to my dad. When he grew up, higher education wasn’t just handed to you nor was it easy to be a minority. Plenty of people had not idea what a Puerto Rican was.Throughout my childhood, my dad made education and school the highest priority. As I later found out, he purposely bought a collection of encyclopedias hoping my siblings and I would want to read them. (Of course I did.) It was my dad’s push that made me addicted to learning.
2. Never Give Up.
Growing up in the “projects” in New York, my dad learned to overcome every obstacle he was given. He studied hard, got scholarships, graduated college with several masters, served in the Marine Corp. despite having virtually no money as a child. Even as an adult, he hasn’t let life’s issues cripple him but instead found a way to keep moving forward. My dad taught me that when life throws you down and beats you up, rub some dirt on it and walk it off.
3. Work Hard.
As my siblings and I have all learned, life isn’t handed to you on a silver platter. It requires blood, sweat and tears to achieve your goals.Throughout my life, my dad has always challenged me to do better. To have the highest grades, to be the best player on my team, to be the most devoted worker. He’s worked for everything he has and created a life for his family where anything is possible. As he’s ingrained into my mind, taking a shortcut is never an option.
4. Follow Your Passion.
Although he can fool outsiders with his hard exterior, my dad has a huge heart. For years, he’s chosen to get up every morning at the crack of down to teach in one of the most difficult school systems in the country. He chooses not to spend his time with privileged rich kids, but to instead connect with those students who are expected to fail. He’s worked at some of the most difficult schools in Las Vegas – Mojave, Rancho, Western – and managers to turn even the most disrespectful students into successful men. He’s made his passion his career. His devotion encourages me to really do something with my life.
5. Baseball is Life.
Baseball isn’t just a nightly hangout when the Yankees are playing. For my dad, baseball really is life. When he was younger, this was his outlet for hardship. As an adult, this is his way to reach the youth. For years, my dad has worked late into the night running drill after drill with his high school students. He sacrificed his free time to be on the field every game, rain or shine. Baseball and teaching are his passion. It’s never been about the paycheck. It’s about meeting that player years later and hearing “Thanks for believing in me Coach.”
I’m sure everyone believes that their dad is the best. The truth is, my dad really is #1. We may butt heads, disagree and sometimes just can’t get along. But, I would never replace him and will always love him.
Happy Father’s Day Dad!