Mentors, Perpsective

Don’t Disregard The Turtle

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I recently had the chance to get back up to Syracuse, New York, where I was fortunate to grow up and live for the first 20 years of my life.

While I was there, I headed to the north side to spend some time with Coach Dotterer, a guy who’s impact on me will forever live within my story and the story of my wife and three kids.

It was merely 13 years ago that I left Syracuse on a whim, when I sat in the liquor store of my high school baseball coach, Tom Dotterer, in tears because of the confused state of growing up that I was enduring as a then 20-year-old kid trying to figure out this thing we call life.

After two years at Ithaca College, I was frustrated because I was not getting playing time on the baseball diamond and I was also not accepted into Ithaca’s acclaimed Park School of Communications; these were the two reasons I attended Ithaca in the first place, and I had decided I didn’t want to be there anymore.

Coach Dotterer urged me to consider traveling down to the University of Montevallo (UM), a small college in the heart of the south, just outside of Birmingham, Alabama. His daughter had attended UM just a decade before this moment I was sitting down in front of him in the summer of 2002, and Coach Dotterer had high regard for the school and their baseball program.

I had already been accepted to a pretty prominent academic institution in Hamilton College, and it was only a few weeks before enrollment for my junior year, but I thought “what do I have to lose? I’m gonna do this.”

So I did.

On August 4, 2002, I flew down to UM, tried out, received a scholarship offer from the baseball coach and two weeks later, I was in Alabama. I’ve been here ever since.

I had life-changing experience at UM, where I graduated in 2005, and sewed my leadership and entrepreneurial roots. But ultimately, I trusted Coach Dotterer, took a chance and became a man, all through this experience.

I’m one of hundreds of young boys that Coach Dotterer molded and impacted. But it isn’t just the impact he has had, its the way he’s gone about it. He is a philosopher who teaches with parables and riddles that will sometimes make sense instantly, and other times, take years for you to comprehend.

He would rather you learn from the journey than from his direct instruction, even though he has many words of instruction he can bestow upon you, with the wisdom he’s gathered from his diverse experiences and ongoing obsession with books – he also owns a book store next to his liquor store, which is now closed, but he boasts “has the widest selection of books published long before this current era.”

Now, as CBA raises a fund to build a new on-campus baseball complex, those of us who have been impacted by Coach Dotterer, are coming together to support it with our dollars and with our stories. Like mine, they are woven together into our adult lives in ways that will pass on his impact to our children, friends, colleagues, employees, customers and many others.

When I graduated from CBA in 2000, Coach Dotterer gave me a gift – a green porcelain turtle. I asked him why this was my gift and he told me that I am the turtle. I have a hard shell to endure the challenges that come my way, I am sometimes slower than those around me, but in the end I will win.

Powerful moment.

I’ll never forget that and I’ll always remember the impact Coach had on me to yearn to be the best version of myself each day I wakeup. It is the reason that my personal purpose in life is to help all of those God puts around me, to be the best versions of themselves.

If you want to support Coach Dotterer’s movement, his legacy and the CBA baseball program that has had such a big impact on all of us who have gone through his program, simply visit this link to give.

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4 thoughts on “Don’t Disregard The Turtle

  1. Pingback: We Develop Ourselves To Help Others Reach Their Potential #1 | Jim Cavale

  2. Kim Sheridan says:

    Hi! My name is Kim Sheridan. My son is Jack Sheridan. He is currently a junior at CBA. I came across your above post and was moved and felt the need to correspond with you as Jack and our family have been deeply impacted by Coach Dotterer as well. Jack was diagnosed with Leukemia on May 29, 2014 about 5 hours before the Section 3 baseball championship between CBA and JD, Jack was a sophomore on the team. From that day forward, Coach has been even closer to our family and has affectionately called Jack Santa. In June if 2014, at the Varsity baseball banquet, Jack was given his gift from Coach – a Santa nesting box. He has since received multiple santa gifts over the last 18 months while he continues to battle. At the banquet, Coach explained to the group why he has deemed Jack Santa. This is what he said, or as close as I can remember it. “Santa, that damn Santa, he goes out there, and has for hundreds of years, given hundreds and thousands of gifts to so many people. That’s what Jack is doing, not actual gifts, Jack is giving us all a gift, a gift of hope, a gift of faith, a gift of inspiration, we are all
    Seeing Jack fight this cancer battle and he is giving us this spiritual gift, faith, hope, love and inspiration”. I am sure
    Coach can give a better more philosophical rendition of what he said
    If you ask him, but I think you understand my point. He has helped
    Us all see what really is important with this battle. He is a true gift to Jack and our family. The Santa aspect has been a true gift as well.
    So, in November of 2014, Jack had his first of many meetings with
    The local Chapter of Make a Wish and his “wish grantors”. He was to
    Tell them his wish. They wanted him to tell them what his wish looked like in his mind. Wishes entail 3 categories, a wish to be, a wish to meet and a wish to have.
    Examples are, be superman for the day, meet Derek Jeter, have a pool installed at your home or go on a trip. Jack was a first for this CNY chapter, he wanted his wish to be, a wish to give – his wish was to have the CBA baseball field redone and named after Coach Dotterer. They have never had a kid ask for a wish to give. A definite foundation that we are proud of. The field plans you have on your go fund me page are just how Jack envisioned it, actually Jack was there to give his final stamp of approval on those plans. So, MAW went to CBA in January of 2015 and started the ball rolling, and look where we are now, a year later and a field nearly completed and ready for Spring 2016 season. My thought is this, since you have such a tremendous circle of friends and alumni for your era, maybe they need to know about the Make a Wish part and the impact Coach has also made on this 16 year old CBA baseball player who is battling Leukemia. Jack and his wish gave CBA the push and the additional funds to get the backyard to look as good as the front yard and more importantly honor an incredible coach and help make a kids wish come true. I hope our story will help your story and dedication to CBA and Coach and maybe inspire a few more people to donate to your go fund me page or just donate.
    All the best and I hope our paths cross very soon. You sound like an amazing person that I would love to meet and I know Jack would love to meet you sometime as well. Maybe you can be here for the field dedication in the spring.
    Xxoo
    Kim Sheridan
    Visit Jacks Facebook page, Sheridan Strikes out Leukemia to follow Jacks journey.

    • Kim, I’ve been told about Jack’s story. It’s pretty amazing. Can I possibly reach out to you sometime over the next couple weeks? Can you send me an email at jimcavale@me.com with your contact info and some particular times of day that might be good to call you?

      • kim sheridan says:

        Sorry 6 months later I finally saw your message…oh gosh I can me reached via email at ksherid764@earthlink.net or cell is 3152241995 …thanks.
        Lots has happened since Jan 2016. I would love to fill u in if u have a moment to chat whenever or maybe u plan to be in town sometime over the summer let me know thanks!

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