In the end, the sport gave him exactly what I always dreamed that it would: character, integrity, leadership, and a warrior heart…
It’s taken me a week to collect my thoughts and put into words how I feel about the end of your football career. While I’m obviously proud of the awards you were recognized for last week…
-First Team All-State Linebacker TAPPS Division 1
-First Team All-State Academic TAPPS Division 1
-First Team All-District Linebacker
-Honorable Mention All-District Running Back
-Liberty Christian Warrior Heart Award
…I’m way more proud of the man you’ve become…
There were practices, games, and seasons that were more challenging than others. There were days, and weeks, where you felt your hard work wasn’t paying off. There were moments when you wondered about your future. But ultimately, in the very end, every single bit of effort you put into the game came back and rewarded you. You learned how to persevere amidst adversity, to be a leader when your team counted on you, to listen to the Lord for your identity, to focus in order to achieve your goals, to be trained up by your coaches, to give it your very best effort even when you were dog-tired and sore, to be a part of a team—something bigger than yourself, and to be devoted to prayer and God’s timing.
But I believe one of the greatest lessons you took away from this game of football was this: that the hard work of life is done in the quiet, away from the crowds of cheering fans, and in the silence of everything but your own desire to do what is right and to succeed. You have walked out Colossians 3:23-24: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you now that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Know that as you move forward in life as a student, friend, brother, disciple, and then later on, in your career, and as a husband and father, that there are going to be thousands of quiet moments of really hard work, and there will be times you will feel unappreciated, unnoticed, and unrewarded but promise me that you will remember this football journey and continue to press on in what you are called to, just as you did in football, knowing that you are serving the Lord and your inheritance is in Him.
I love you, Kade Cooper, and I couldn’t be more proud of you. The Lord has answered my prayer for your life: you are a man among men.