Calli’s Corner: Hoefer’s helping hand

by Calli Newberry

This photo went viral last week.

Andy Shatley, a sports medicine director from Arkansas, shared the story of two Iowa high school football players on his personal Facebook page. He wrote, “Iowa high school wide receiver Mario Hoefer stops to stretch opponent’s cramping leg last week. He was later quoted saying, “I know how he felt and I’m not about to just leave him here.” The photo snapped by a parent has since gone viral….Hopefully, this level of compassion for others follows suit. Hear me, this is not football gone soft. This is beautiful.” 

After watching several football games this fall, I’ve noticed cramping is no joke. It happens all the time. 

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I don’t know that I’ve seen this though. Players will often help their opponents up after a tackle or offer a little helmet tap as if to say “Nice play”, but taking the time to stretch out his leg is another thing. 

What I love most about this though is what Mario Hoefer said about his action: “I know how he felt and I’m not about to just leave him there.” 

He didn’t say he thought it’d be a nice thing to do or he didn’t see a trainer around so he thought he should help. There’s something about “I’m not about to just leave him here” that sounds so certain and automatic. There was no thinking or contemplating. He knew what the other player felt and just stepped up. 

He allowed his empathy to drive him to action.

We’ve all been through hard things, we all have had tough and challenging and even painful experiences. And those experiences aren’t fun. Even if we’re grateful for the strength we gained or the lessons we learned, most of the time we’d prefer to live without them. 

But that’s the beauty of hard things — We don’t have to do them alone. Whatever hard thing we might be dealing with, there’s someone else who’s been through the same, if not, very similar, thing who knows how we feel. They might not be able to fix the situation, but just knowing we’re not alone is comforting.  

We don’t have to worry about being stuck on our backs in the middle of a football field. There will be someone to help us get up and back in the game. 

And when we make it back in the game on the other side of that injury, setback, or struggle, it’s our job to remember how we felt. Feelings are strong and will propel us to action far faster than logic, which I know can be a dangerous thing, but when used right, like Hoefer, we’ll step up to help others without hesitation. 

Sometimes we try to block out the painful memories, bury them deep and forget they even happened. We can be really good at forgetting and hiding the struggles, and who can blame us? They’re not pleasant. 

But when we find a healthy way to still carry those memories in our back pockets, we’re able to use them for good. We become more relatable and empathetic. We can take those bad things and turn them into helpful, healing, and hope-giving tools to get the next person off his back.

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