I think a common thread that flows through the human experience as we grow is “thinking we want to make a difference.” What that leads us to, what that means is always the question and the challenge. For many it is a vague desire, a broad stroke as in a wish. There are those, and I think they are very few, who know they will make a difference to the world, almost as if they understand their calling. For some it just happens, for many it never does. What category we fit in, and for what reasons our lives shape up the way they do, I don’t know. But the truth for me is you never know where you may fit. You never know how you just might have laid down that model to be copied, you never know the words you used in a conversation, or the advice you gave that changed a life. Yet your small act, however tiny the footprint influencing just one person to better themselves might be, matters.
Last night I attended a wake for Kyle Kirst, a man who implanted thousands of footprints. I’m even lost in my writing where to begin, possibly the three to four hour line that went on from noon until 10:00 p.m., as thousands—yes thousands—showed up in sadness for this 47 year old leader, hero and father, who passed from a sudden heart attack. Here was a man who gave of himself everything he had for his boys, family, and community. A high school teacher, a high school lacrosse coach, and Rutgers grad, you would think that was enough, but no. He also coached girls basketball, 12 year old boys football, and minor league lacrosse every day. What was so impressive is he did it year in and year out. His way of communicating, connecting, and teaching inspired our youth to become more than they thought they could be, better than they believed possible. This was exemplified by the 22 year old man I stood next to in line who shared his own “coach changed my life” story. “He made me believe in me and paved the way to college, he convinced me of my talents and my potential. Today I’m living his path, and I stay connected to him, and always will.” Although this seemed so powerful it was only the tip of the person this coach was to all who knew him.
“Hero” is a word thrown around a lot these days; this man was truly an everyday hero. Consider the visual of a team of twelve year olds in football gear waiting in line to show their respect, sadness and support, a multitude of young men in blue blazers who carried themselves with dignity, respect and appreciation. All direct links to coach.
Many tears were shed for this was truly a tragedy. But it was also a spotlight on a life to be proud of, a legacy about what really matters, not on the field as much as off the field.
They say when you give something away, and expect nothing in return you are moving in a spiritual direction. Kyle Kirst led the way and in how he lived his life, created a path to be followed. He truly was, as he put it, a “hill topper.”
Who has he inspired? Today, there is a void in greatness. I know Coach has inspired someone who will follow in his footsteps.
As an afterthought I did not know Coach Kyle very well, only that he coached my 10 year old for a couple of years, and his association with his youth football. For a much better insight visit this link and read about him through the eyes of one of his 2011 athletes. www.tapinto.net/towns/basking-ridge/columns/guest-column/articles/coach-kyle-kirst
In peace and love,