It isn’t often I find a great marching band/college hoops story melded together in the sports pages, but I just had to smile reading the story of Andrew Del Piero.
The elite Napsters must have thought I had gone into hibernation since it has been way too long since my last post, but I’m sure some of you may have felt a bit “Low E” from the events of the past few weeks. I hope a feel-good story like this will lift all our spirits.
Mr. Del Piero began his college career at L.S.U. with a music scholarship as a tuba player. And an impressive tuba player he is — standing 7 foot, 3 inches tall. As you might imagine, during both high school and college folks frequently assumed he was a basketball player, but in reality he was just a helluva tuba player. It wasn’t until his Junior year at L.S.U. that he began to explore the idea of joining the basketball team — as a walk-on.
Here’s where the story gets me: After basking in all-star status at rec center ball, Mr. Del Piero admits that his early workouts with the L.S.U. team were really tough, and a reality check for him. When most folks would just quit and go back to their comfort zone, Del Piero worked harder in the off-season (when he could have just been a tuba rock-star) to earn both a spot on the team and an athletic scholarship (joining the basketball team meant giving up his music scholarship). In today’s “instant” culture the concept of effort is given short-shrift. We celebrate the short cut, the dizzying acceleration to the top, not the clumsy slog of effort and hard work. Del Piero earned the respect of his coach and teammates by putting in the time and sweat at every practice.
I don’t think Andrew is dissing tuba for hoops. I think he’s showing us that there’s room in life for more than one good thing that requires effort, commitment and stamina (have you ever marched while playing a tuba? It ain’t no piccolo). We are never too old, too “set in our ways” to start something new, to learn something new. But we do have to make a sincere effort ~ more than once, even ~ to honor the attempt.