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.