By Kim Duke

NETA & AAFA Certified Trainer

Sometimes things take place in communities, large and small, that deserve to be recognized.  If you’ve ever read my articles in the past, you know that I typically write about things like commitment, group fitness and nutrition.  Today I am going to give all of those things a face— and an inspiration.

I have had the pleasure of knowing a young man named Ryan Metzger for the past 2+ years.  When I met him, he was a fourth grader who would come to my studio with his mom while she took a fitness class or trained with me one on one.  Ryan, who is tall for his age, was always polite, but when we would encourage him to join us in our workouts, he typically declined because he was more interested in the game he was playing on his hand held device.  Ryan also worked with an occupational therapist at school to assist him in developing coordination.

Fast forward to the tail end of fourth grade.  Ryan got involved in a travel soccer program and a touch football camp.  Without missing a beat, Ryan, with the help of his parents, attended and played for both.  Shortly after the touch football camp ended, Ryan began asking his parents if he could play little league football.  Ryan’s dad had played as a youngster, so Ryan wanted to give it a try.

Now, back to reality…Ryan was 10 years old and 20 pounds over the weight limit to play little league.  However, that did not deter this young man from signing up on Aug. 1, 2017.

As a former parent to two little league football players, I can tell you that signing up for this sport in no joke.  The kiddos practice every weekday from 6 to 8 p.m. and in the beginning, some Saturdays too.  Games are weekly and if you are not a dedicated kid and parent, this equation simply does not work.

Days went by, weeks went by when Ryan was too heavy to run plays with his teammates, so instead watched from the sidelines or ran in full gear around the park.  There were times when his coaches said he lagged behind and could have done better and so his parents would take him home and run with him to help him improve.  And, make no mistake, Ryan’s coaches and teammates never gave up on him either because each and every week Ryan dropped weight, he got faster and he ran plays with his team and he didn’t give up.

Two weeks ago, Ryan was 6 pounds away from his goal weight.  This past Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, Ryan hit his goal weight and played in his first Pee Wee game.  His teammates, coaches, other parents and bystanders cheered and Ryan felt amazing.

To Ryan, his parents and everyone involved, this was not about football.  This was about something so much bigger.  This was about setting a goal, working hard and achieving that goal.  This was about a 10-year-old boy changing his course.  He didn’t do it alone.  I cannot tell you how proud I am of his parents.  They never pushed, but they did encourage.  They helped him make healthier choices with his diet and his spare time.  Ryan runs now and eats smarter.  He did not do any of this because he was told or because he wanted to hang out with some friend on the team.  Instead, he did this because he is Ryan Metzger.  He walks to his own drum and still loves video games.

Too often, we focus on what is wrong with a sport or choices others make.  I thought it was time we focused on something refreshing.  Something that, if I did not witness it with my own eyes, I may not have believed.  Perseverance still exists.  Dedication still exists and positive results still happen when you follow the right path.