Dear Editor,

As I've grown older, I've learned to be more thankful for the many blessings that my life has been undeservedly bestowed. But it also has made me realize that, in the past, I was not as appreciative as I should have been.

One of the most joyous and innocent times of my life was when, as a young boy on into my teen years, I spent summers on area baseball diamonds, and indeed, at ball parks around the state. I was most certainly of average skill, but I was fortunate enough to have some amazingly talented individuals as teammates who carried many of our teams to great success. Together, we brought home the chrome on more than one occasion.

But this letter isn't about those teams. It is about the men who coached them.

That I can even remember the names of these men after so many years is a testimony as to how they influenced my life. No, I can't remember any specific words of wisdom they passed on to me. I don't recall any epiphany at the time that made me stand up and notice these men. But as a young boy of divorce who was aching for the approval, support and encouragement of a man, all of these coaches made me feel like I was somebody — somebody worthy to teach the game of baseball. They made me feel special. I was never their best player, but oftentimes, they made me feel like I was.

I do not know where most of these men are now, and I do know at least one has passed on. But please indulge me for just a moment longer as I deliver a long overdue thank you to some important men in my life ... Mike Beller, Harold Muse, Frank Fountain, Jarrett Kelough, Mike Faulkenberry, Joe Murray and Roger Richardson. Thank you.

And I would just like to encourage those men and women who are today's volunteer summertime coaches. You may not hear it from your players right away, but you are making a difference in the lives of our young boys and girls. Trust me, I know ...

Michael L. Wingo