Put Me In Coach! I’m Ready to Play… Kind Of
By Andrew Barber
It didn’t quite go as planned.
There were no screaming and adoring fans; there were no intelligent lights bouncing around the walls and ceiling of the room; there was no grand introduction with a fifteen foot inferno of red hot flames around the back entrance of the stage. Instead, the eight French-fry lights, each burning at a temperature of around 800 degrees Fahrenheit clicked on as our lead singer recited the cliché “Please rise to your feet and worship with us.”
As just a young sophomore, I was asked to step into the bass guitar position in the youth praise band at my church. Having never been on a stage like this before, I didn’t quite know what to expect. The senior I was replacing had left for college, so the rest of the band decided to call my number.
Malcolm X once said, “If you don’t stand for anything, you’ll fall for everything.” As I get to share with people why I believe the way I do, it opens doors to share with people what I stand for and why I do it.
The first night on stage was terrifying. As the 80 other youth group members were standing up and preparing to sing, I was standing in the back corner of the stage with my fingers wrapped around the metallic strings trying to figure out what song we were playing first, and what notes I was supposed to play. I had practiced at least twenty hours for this fateful night, but the bright lights and staring faces made my mind go blank, and for the life of me, I couldn’t remember the simple bass line to “Mighty to Save” or “Holy Holy Holy.”
As time progressed, I found my comfort zone on stage and realized that the faces weren’t there to scare me; they were there to worship with me and sing praises. I began to realize that as my life got busy with schoolwork and sports, I had to learn how to manage my time and make some sacrifices.
During lacrosse season, I had to make a deal with my coach to go work out extra during the school week so I could leave practice early once a week to get to church. “All right, Barber, but you’re gonna have to show me extra effort when you are able to come to practice,” said my coach one week at practice. I don’t think I’ve ever had to run as much as I did that year.
During my second year of varsity cheerleading, my coach got frustrated that I couldn’t come to a Wednesday practice, and I was told that “sometimes cheering needs to come before God.” Had my coach quickly allowed me to miss this one practice, I would not have had the opportunity to share with her how much my church and my faith meant to me and how much it would mean for her to let me go to lead worship at my church.
Malcolm X once said, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” As I get to share with people why I believe the way I do, it opens doors to share with people what I stand for and why I do it.
When I was first asked to step into the youth band as the bass guitarist, I had no idea the opportunities it would give me. Not only did I get to share my faith with my reluctant cheer coach, I have also gotten to travel to Ecuador and Jamaica with my youth band to perform at vacation bible schools and youth rallies. I have gotten to be a role model to kids that speak both my first language of English, and my second language of Spanish.
And most importantly, I’ve learned to defend what I believe in and stay true to the things that mean most to me.
Andrew Barber is a senior day student at McCallie School.