Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. (James Barrie)
This picture typifies so many things I love about sports. My new friend, Melissa, sent me this great photo this morning. On the left is her son, Jak Kolb, and on the right (crouched down) is my son, Zach.
This fall, Zach took on a new sport. It’s been an emotion filled whirlwind for a competitive kid like Z who wants to win at every sport he tries. He had literally never played in a tennis match before this season began several weeks ago, and I would call his experience on the GC tennis team exceptionally good. There are many reasons for this, which include but are not limited to supportive coaches, experienced and welcoming teammates like Cole Metzger, Ty Harrington, Carson Kniola, Thomas Darland, Luke Gregor (and many others), and a solid work ethic. However, chief among his blessings this first trimester of high school has been meeting his new friend and doubles partner, Jak Kolb.
Talented, and athletic, Jak is a young man who knows his way around a tennis court. He’s an experienced tennis player and a sophomore for the Golden Eagles. He is also an intelligent, positive, patient and encouraging teammate. For example, during one match earlier in the season, an opponent hit an errant serve which was clearly headed well out of bounds…until Zach reached up to catch it. Jak looked at Z and immediately asked him what the heck he was doing. Z clearly was focused on not having to chase down the poorly delivered serve and didn’t realize that he had in fact lost the point for his team by touching the ball BEFORE it landed out. He shrugged his shoulders saying something super articulate like “that’s my bad”. Let’s just say some of the finer points and rules of tennis have been a learn-as-you-go proposition for Z, ha!? What I love about Jak is that he just laughed and shook it off, and continued to give his signature “You’ve got this, Z” despite the guffaw.
Don’t let me mislead you here. Zach is a natural at tennis, and with his great hands and athleticism he has contributed well to several good wins this season. That said, the on court coaching by his teammate, Jak Kolb, has been an impressive show of leadership by this faith-filled young man.
Jak is the son of Jason and Melissa Kolb, and the older brother to two talented sisters, Katie and Anna, who also play tennis. He’s a parishioner at OLMC where he serves mass as a Knight, which is their high school altar server group. He’s a member of GC’s music program and sings in their choir, Golden Voice. The Kolb family must be incredibly proud. They have raised a terrific young man.
As I drove across Hamilton County recently with 3 boys in my Durango to get to a match, I learned that like Z, Jak is a country music fan. His sunny disposition and his big, genuine smile are fairly spectacular. He’s both polite and articulate. Jak has spent time hitting with Z outside of tennis practice, and he has encouraged Zach to continue to work on his game in the offseason so the team can come back stronger next fall. Z clearly respects the very likeable young Mr. Kolb, and so do I! The two boys have good chemistry on the court, and I really do credit that to the positivity and encouraging temperament of Jak.
That leads me back to the photo above. Last night, Jak and Zach lost a marathon match to a good Zionsville team by the score of 7-6, 5-7, 4-6. It was the second night in a row they played for 2.5 hours, finishing nearly in the dark. Their loss meant the team lost too. They had played well, but those are hard moments. However, just like he did in this candid captured by Melissa above, Jak immediately turned to his friend with encouraging words. Then, they tossed their rackets aside and went across to the other bank of courts where their teammate, John Tiplick, had just found victory in similar circumstances on the singles court. Together, they cheered for John, happy for his success. It was a beautiful thing.
Jak, you are a faith-filled young man of character. The future is extremely bright for terrific humans like you who build others up! Thank you for being such a great example to those around you! Thanks also for bringing your competitive fire to the courts all season and for sharing your sunshine with all of us in your path. Keep up the good work, kid! GO GOLDEN EAGLES!!