The power of a loved one’s words!

BillRoddy_ManhoodFTHood_FBArt_61913_50Can you remember a powerful statement someone made to you when you were young?

My grandfather and I met on our front porch on that memorable hot August afternoon on the west side of Chicago in 1975.  I was leaving home for the first time to attend college. Little did I know that day would be monumental.

I recall the overwhelming emotions as he spoke to me.

“Son, I am proud of you…………”

As a young man struggling to leave the nest and venture out into the world, my grandfather’s loving and powerful statement validated me as a man.  That was my rite of passage moment that I will never forget.

While mentoring young men for  20 years I have observed that for many no loving adult male figure has confirmed their transition into manhood.  Why do I know this to be true?   I can, feel and sense the uneasiness, pain and anger in them before they utter one single word.

Wouldn’t you agree that it is very powerful when a positive adult male confirms a young boy transitioning into manhood?

Wouldn’t it make a difference if all mentoring programs provided rites of passage ceremonies for young men and women?

Do you remember memorable words another person said to you?

Parents R Us!

Once upon a time, youth held me true

Teasing my dad (did you do that too?)

I’d point, “Dad, that grey in your beard is telling on you!

I feel sad you’re so old

Your best years a memory

Dad, don’t you long to be ME

Fit, fine, and willowy?”


I’ve never forgotten my father’s retort

The memory resounds

With fatherly patience, eyes downcast,

Dad quietly responds

“Daughter, if the earth below you keeps rounding the sun

If the air through your nose keeps expanding your lungs

Then some youngster will tease YOU as YOUR knees creak

And you can answer yourself, that question so deep!”


Excerpts from Manhood from the Hood

It was a thrill watching the U.S. Gymnastics Championships this past weekend at the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. To see those young women (and men) compete!

It was only the last twenty-five years of the 21st century that women truly began to be celebrated for their sports achievement.

Sixteen-year-old Jordyn Wieber captured the U.S all-around crown. Her coach, John Geddert cheered her on, wearing a purple shirt that matched her leotard.

I wonder how coaching young women is different from coaching young men? Maybe there isn’t a difference.

Any coaches care to weigh in? Let the discussion begin!!

More from Coach Denny Welter and why he was so inspired by Bill’s stories of grandfather Roddy.

47. The value of having a great friend.

48. Some of you are skipping classes, but you are only short-changing yourselves.  You will need more than basketball in your lives.  You will need your education to make it in this world.  “Let basketball be a vehicle that you can use to improve your life by taking you to places you only dreamt of.  Use basketball, but don’t let basketball use you.”  – Coach Vaughn

49. Teachers and coaches worked together to help us mature and succeed.

50. The point guard position is a reflection of the coach on the floor. (Adam)

51. We learn a lot about ourselves from failures and disappointments.

52. Use failure to motivate you.  Learn from your failures.  Learn from all of life’s experiences.

53. Coach Feely and I talked about the importance of education, family values, working hard, and the contacts I would make in college that would last a lifetime.

54. My grandfather and Coach Feely had similar values.  They came from different worlds and were raised in totally different environments.  Did similar values transcend racial, economic, political, religious views and social barriers?  What was it about family values that caused us to seek out others like ourselves?  Was such seeking a verification and validation of those values?  Or was it just a trait wired into our DNA that compelled us to desire a sense of belonging to one another?

55. After college, what will my life be like?

56. The value of being a good mentor and role model for younger siblings.

57. Many years have passed and the past is the past.

Fatherhood lost…and not forgotten


My dad passed away and was buried during the first 2 weeks of August 1987. So for twenty-four years, the first 2 weeks of August have been a time of deep reflection for me.

My dad and I had a close bond while I was a little girl. He could do no wrong in the eyes of his only daughter.

But from the time I reached puberty until his death, our relationship was contentious. Dad was a proud, unyielding, old school type of guy—common for his generation. That clashed mightily with my budding feminism throughout the 1970s and ‘80s.  We bewildered—no, pissed one another off—regularly.

But it’s during this anniversary time that I think about how much I’ve evolved and matured over the twenty-four years he has been gone; how I’ve made peace with the man who used to rile me up. I know I loved him and I know he loved me before I even knew what love is. If he were still alive today, surely Dad would have matured and evolved as well, don’t you think?

Remember that old saying about most of life’s traumas? “One day you’ll look back on this and laugh!”

Dad, I’m laughing my head off at our former silliness. I bet you are laughing too.