The World's Greatest
The year was 1994. I was 34 years old and my career as a professional soccer player was winding down. The front office of the Milwaukee Rampage had received a call specifically asking for me and if I would do some volunteer work for the Special Olympics high school track meet. I was more than happy to be a part of it.
I drove to Whitefish Bay High School on a Saturday morning and was very surprised to see six - thousand people in the stands. The only problem was that I had gone to check out a band called Judas Priest the night before and I was horribly hung over and my ears were still ringing.
I was intoduced to the crowd along with a few members of the Brewers baseball team and the Milwaukee Bucks. I would be in charge of coaching and encouraging the high school kids in the 100 yard dash. I did a demonstrtation for them and they were amazed at how fast I could run and it took supreme will power not to throw up on the track in front of everyone.
The joy and happiness on their faces made me feel so good that I started felling better and I was glad that I had come to the event. After a series of heats I had a 45 minute break until the next set of races. At that time I heard a voice booming over the loudspeaker system.
"For those of you not participating in the track meet come try our tennis skills test."
I loved playing tennis and walked over to the six courts which were manned by 4 college and 2 professional players. I didn't want to talk to anybody, just knock the ball around. Court 1 was all about serving skills and I proceeded to rip about six or seven 100 mph serves. All the coaches just kind of stared at me. On court 2 the coach traded ground strokes with me for about 5 minutes. As I went to court 3 I saw him look at the head instructor, shake his head and say "unbelievable."
By the time I got to court 6 one of the pro players wanted to play me in a game. I scored a couple points on him and almost beat him. It was time for me to get back to the track and as I started walking away all 6 of the instructors stopped what they were doing and came up and surrounded me. They gave me a big group hug and declared " You have been working so hard, we are so proud of you."
I thought this was a bit odd and just walked away again without saying a word. I was about 20 yards away when I heard one of them say " you know what, that kid could be the world's greatest handicapped tennis player." I pretended not to hear them and just kept walking. When I was out of their eye sight I just threw myself to the ground laughing so hard my stomach hurt.
Yes, that was me. At age 34, the poster boy for high school Special Olympics.
No matter what I do the rest of my life, for one day I can say I was the world's greatest at something.