Echoes of Elul Day 7: Thanking Our Mentors – A Tribute to William “Bill” Morris

By Mike Rubin

I wish I would have told him, over the many years since I graduated high school,
how much he influenced my life,
and how much he helped shape the person I became.

I am sure he passed away many years ago,
he would be well over 100 years old now,
it is far too late.

He was my high school wrestling coach,
a fearsome, yet gentle man.
Respected by all in a tough, blue-collar neighborhood,
– for who he was, and for what he stood.

I was a scrawny kid, and an outsider,
an alien, from the only Jewish family in a land of Catholics,
searching for a way to fit in,
longing for acceptance, for respect, for identity.

What did he teach me?
Respect is something earned.

Success comes from grueling effort, self-discipline, studying and applying the instruction of good teachers, learning from failures, and manifesting self-confidence through preparation.

But, he also taught me that success is more than wins/losses – it is even more important to conduct yourself with dignity/integrity, to respect your opponent and the sport, to help your teammates, and to know that leadership is being a good example for those who follow in your tracks.

Yes – you disappointed me when you left Garfield Heights, before my senior year and became principal of another school, leaving the team without the captain of the ship.

But, it was clearly the right decision for you.
I respect it now, knowing that, by then, the mold was set and I was well-prepared.

I wish I would have told you – “Thank You,”
and that you made a world of difference in my journey,
and that I think of you when I count my blessings in life.

During the month leading up to the High Holy days, it is our tradition to seek forgiveness from those we have harmed/offended.  Perhaps thanking those who we have long neglected to thank would also be a good tradition.

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