Monday, January 5, 2009

My Newest Hero

I have a lot of heroes...people who inspire me for one reason or another...but today I have a new one I felt like sharing with the very limited blogosphere that reads my blog. This is Darren Sproles.He is a running back and return specialist for the San Diego Chargers. At 5'6", he's the shortest player in the NFL.

Have I mentioned that I have a 6-almost-7-year-old sports fanatic in my house? I'm sure it must've come up at some point. And baseball season is over, so Smunch is now voraciously following football...and ice hockey...but mostly football now that the playoffs are coming right up. If either the 49ers or the Raiders were any good, he'd be rooting his little heart out for them, but since they both sucked this year and the Bears probably sucked just as bad, he's left rooting for the Chargers...the team of the city where SPENCER! lives. That's really O.K. since the only NFL jersey he's got is a LaDainian Tomlinson jersey that Aunt Karen generously gave him for his last birthday.

On his last birthday, Smunch had never heard of Darren Sproles. But he's been watching a lot of football lately and Sproles has been freakin' amazing. Last weekend, as the Chargers played a wildcard game to get into the "real playoffs", Smunch watched, riveted as, in a crazy close game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sproles scored the game-winning touchdown.

And sure, I appreciate a cool sports star as much as the next, but I'd have left Smunch cheering on the Chargers if I hadn't bothered to look up a few details about Mr. Sproles...admittedly inspired by noticing just how short he is. Turns out, he broke just about every record at Kansas State, on his way to the NFL, but also on his way to...wait for it...a degree in speech pathology. A little further research confirmed my unfounded suspicion that Darren Sproles stutters. Not only does he stutter, but he's a member of The Stuttering Foundation's Sports Legends Who Stutter.

I haven't written a lot about Smunch and his stuttering lately. It has actually improved markedly in the last few weeks, but he still has trouble talking in such a way that he's super intelligible, especially if he's excited. So, you can imagine that if you get started on Darren Sproles or on any football game, you're not likely to understand or get a word in edgewise.

So, thank you Darren Sproles. I know you haven't gotten away with avoiding the interviews lately, but your willingness to share your struggles with speaking are such an inspiration to a short little white kid who stutters up here in the Northern California 'burbs. He can't run like the wind like you do, but thanks to you, he probably believes he can.


dote said...

I like Sproles, finally, a guy in the NFL that's my height! He had a fantastic game... only problem is, they face my Steeler's this week and that's where the praise for Sproles ends =)

Cathyo said...

That is great that he is so open about something that makes him diffferent. I stutter too and the SFA does offer good resources but also, the National Stuttering Association (NSA - offers meetings, workshops and conferences across the U.S. where people who stutter can meet each other for support.

It is nice to see someone as great as Darren being open about what makes him different...he is the hero to many who stutter, especially children. You go Darren! Show em what your made of!

Calibelle said...

How cool is that!?!?! You should send him a video fan letter from Smunch. I bet he'd get a kick outta it.

mommieN. said...

No more reading your blog at work -- I'm either spraying coffee on my screen or hiding sniffle sounds....the latter this time.

Smunch's enthusiasm and joy for sports is such an a amazing, heartwarming thing, and how incredible is it to find the perfect sports hero? I might just have to start watching football myself!