I felt my watch vibrate and glanced down at the words on the screen. My attention focused as I scrolled through the details of the message and then fumbled through my nearby bag, searching for a tissue to dry my eyes. I couldn’t believe the news:

My dear friend Dan had passed away.

Brother Dan, as he was known, was 92 years old — in his case, 92 years young; he could have passed for more than a decade younger. Dan always wore a rascally smile, like he was up to no good (in the best possible way). Call it cliché, but the man’s eyes twinkled.

Brother Dan was tall and strong, a former high school coach of multiple sports, the kind of man you want mentoring your child. His family displayed photos of him coaching basketball, softball, track, and football teams at the visitation the day before his funeral. I’m curious how many lives he influenced, the generations of students who looked up to him and became better athletes (and better humans) because of his guidance. For decades’ worth of Sundays, he served as sideline coach, long-distance spectator, and vocal cheerleader for my family through conversations in the church fellowship hall.

When our oldest son consistently finished second to the same opponent in the two-mile at his high school track meets, Brother Dan mapped out a strategy that enabled him to win his final race. He encouraged people to do their best by playing to their strengths. Brother Dan didn’t change our son physically, but he changed his mindset. Later our son would apply that lesson to the way he played baseball too.

Please visit me today at (in)courage for the rest of the article!

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