As is usually the case, I first got to know this young man through his efforts on the gridiron.
And one moment in particular stands out.
Though it actually happened away from the field, I think it helps shed some light on this young man’s trajectory.
One August a few years ago, during conditioning week, Robby injured a finger in a form tackling drill.
Now I have seen a thumb broken during the Michigan State drill and witnessed a concussion delivered by an errant pass. So what happened to Robby that day might be similarly categorized; a freak accident.
But with time comes the wisdom guided by hindsight.
And I have to believe that something else was in play.
Seeing where things stand today, I would have to reclassify that moment as some divine intervention.
While the impact of this moment took him away from the football field – that injured finger pointed Robby directly towards his true athletic home; the courts.
And he heeded the call.
Now I contend that Robby would have made a great center. One that is built to keeps things together at the breech and lead his cohorts on the line of scrimmage. The captain of his unit.
But it is safe to say, that his heart is into becoming an extraordinary tennis player. One built to defend the base line. Serving notice to all that oppose him to expect unrelenting effort. And I am confident that Robby is certain to captain his own team one day.
I would score that tennis 15. Football love.
An important element of leadership that seems to get glossed over – for reasons unknown – is communication.
Not so much the routine, day-to-day, nitty-gritty, directives and feedback inherent in leading and leadership.
But more so the nuts and bolts of developing a compelling level of communication that creates commitment, instills courage and speaks to character.
How a leader conveys the much bigger picture.
Connects with others.
Shares a wisdom only earned of experience.
And touches hearts.
Now Robby did employ some higher level leadership skills in leading his team to build an in ground fire pit adjacent to the Outdoor Amphitheater right here at the Mequon Nature Preserve.
First the pit was excavated about four feet deep. A drainage pipe was installed. And then the hole thing was filled with gravel.
The ring itself had to be custom fabricated to meet the needs of handling a much larger group of people.
From a time perspective, between receiving the proper permits, planning the project, building the benches, and installing the fire pit, he invested about eight months into this venture.
And to go along with his gifts of talent in terms of vision and leadership, Robby raised $1,100 in treasure to fund the project.
So in addition to being able to handle the nitty-gritty, this one can see the bigger picture.
And more importantly, articulate it.
In simpler times, fire was a necessity.
A means of providing warmth, sustenance and protection.
But in many respects it also commanded a more spiritual presence.
The ideal venue to convene.
Recollect and swap stories. .
Share the good and the bad.
All against the back-drop of a star lit sky; the ideal venue to paint a big picture.
And articulate the vision for future endeavors.
It would purely be speculation on my part to suggest that any of this was in the back of Robby’s mind when he made his Eagle Scout project decision.
Or that it was an intervention of sorts that somehow pointed him in this direction.
But Robby has proven to have some acute listening skills.
And he do heed the call.
His project reflects some much-needed values from a much simple times.
A path back to the lasting influence of a fire.
Away from the racquet of technology.
Where future leaders may hold court.
A place where the call to serve might be answered.
Well done Mr. Baranko.
That would be game, set and match.
Congratulations Robby !
Troop 865 – and M-T’s newest Eagle Scout.