There was a wonderful, three-tissue story in the Times Sports section yesterday about a 17-year-old senior football player at Loyola High School in Los Angeles named Josh Morales. A week before Christmas, Josh and both his parents all tested positive for COVID-19. His parents were hit the hardest and Josh insisted, in spite of his own compromised health, that he was the least sick and could take care of them, which he did by washing their clothes and bed linens, cooking meals and massaging their backs and foreheads. His father was the worst and ended up in the hospital for 38 days. Twice, the doctors thought they were going to lose him. Josh’s mother came within one day of going into the hospital as well, right before she turned a corner on the disease. Josh continued undaunted, trying to keep up with his classes in school and agility training for football while he selflessly continued taking care of his parents.
Now, admittedly, Josh is not the big football star who’s looking forward to a football scholarship in college waiting for him, which actually makes this story even more compelling. It took him three years of hard work just to make the varsity squad which made it doubly hard for him to sit out this senior season last fall because of COVID. He has no intention of playing football in college; he just wanted one season to fulfill his dream of playing in real games on a real team. “I could see that football taught you about more than just the game,” he says. “It taught you about accountability, responsibility, trusting others, leadership, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Well, the happy conclusion to this story is that Josh received all those intangibles along with the fact that he is going to get to play football anyway. A number of high schools, at least here in southern California, are going to have a spring season consisting of five games. No playoffs or championships; just five games, to give everyone the chance to experience a real season for all the intangible reasons. Josh is elated. This was his only chance to play, and by golly, he’s going to get that chance.
Says one of the coaches on his team, “The philosophy at Loyola is, you put others before you; you look outward. Josh embodies that. He was there for his parents. This is a story that goes way beyond football.” That’s the Loyola High School football team version of Grace Turned Outward: “you put others before you; you look outward.”
“My son,” his mother recalls, “my son, he [became] the air that we breathed.” I think we can all breathe that same air. Put others before you and look outward and you will bring fresh air wherever you go.