When my brother was a sophomore at Harrells Christian Academy, he was given the nickname “Chicky” by the legendary Coach Jack Holley. For the next three years, Chicky was his name. Better yet, Chicky Babe. While all of his classmates, friends, teammates, teachers, and coaches referred to him as Chicky, he was still ‘Matt’ to me. My little brother, Matt. Even though he is almost as tall as a skyscraper, he will always be my ‘little’ brother.
You see, Matt got all of the athletic ability between the two of us. I mean every last bit of it. I would intentionally plan my piano lesson each year with Mrs. Middleton during recess. I was already awkward enough as it is, throw a basketball and a net in the mix? No, thank you. You would get air ball after air ball, and just a long, lanky girl making herself look like a fool. Don’t get me wrong! Just because I am not the athlete like my brother, I was raised to love sports. You couldn’t help but have a love for sports in my family. Sports is kind of a big deal. My goodness, my career goal was sports management before I became a stay-at-home Mama! I grew up watching my older cousins play football at Legion Stadium on Friday nights, cheering for the Wolfpack on Game Day (my Dad’s alma mater… he’s a former football player… ya know, no biggie…), and getting bitten by 7,490,248+ mosquito bites at Art Meyer field watching Matt play Little League in the spring. The mosquito bites only added to my middle school awkwardness. Matt played three sports growing up: football, basketball, and baseball. But, baseball. Baseball was his favorite. We should have probably taken stock in OFF bug spray.
For as long as I can remember, Matt has always shared with us his dream of playing in a Division I sport and being a college athlete. We all have dreams. This was Matt’s dream. And lo’ and behold. He has reached his dream. He did it.
A few weeks ago, I received a text from him. It said, “Don’t give up on your dreams!” Okay, this made my eyes water. The next text followed with a picture of his jersey and his locker plate. Maready 25. Now. Everyone knows my hormones are trying to get “back in order” after having these two babies. I was on my way to church upon receiving this message. When I got to church, everyone who saw me more than likely had the reaction, “Oh, she needs our prayers. Something is obviously wrong with her! She looks like a raccoon from all that mascara! Bless her heart…” Yes. I was that overtaken by this simple message. My little brother is a college athlete. He is playing Division I baseball. He did it! In my opinion, every 7,490,248+ mosquito bite that I got while cheering him on was worth it… for that moment.
Tomorrow, Matt has his home opener at Brooks Field in Wilmington. After 15 years of practices and games, he will take the mound as a Division I athlete. Now, let me tell you the back story. Matt is not a scholarship recipient. He was not recruited. He did not go to UNCW with the intention of playing baseball. After high school, Matt was doubting his position to ever accomplish his dream to be a college athlete. In this day and time, without any recruitment or a scholarship offer, the chances you have to make the team are slim. Matt was given one try out. He made it. He was given the chance to prove himself as a player during the off season. And, he did. As proud as I am to say my little brother is a baseball player for UNC-Wilmington, I am more proud to say my little brother did not give up. He ran towards the dream God placed on his heart when he was little. Now, he is playing for the Glory of God and living out his dream.
What is your dream? We all dream and have goals that we strive to reach. To see Matt accomplish this dream of his has been a joy to witness. This made me realize that sometimes the journey to reach and accomplish our dreams is one of the best parts of the dream itself. Sometimes what happens along the way even turns out to be more meaningful and fulfilling than the end result we had in mind because of who we become and what we experience along the way. Dreams are unpredictable. We don’t know where they’ll take us, what will happen along the way, or where we’ll wind up in the end. But in all of that uncertainty, there’s One who is the same “yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He’s the same one who said, “I am doing a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19) What God does in your life will always be changing, always surprising. Who he is will always remain the same. That’s what gives us the courage to dream.
I pray that as our girls grow they will never become complacent. I pray they will always be dreamers, and have the courage to become all that God calls them to be. Today, I encourage you to pursue your dreams. Run towards the calling that God has placed before you. While we will not be at his game tomorrow, I am so excited for the day we get to take the girls to see “Uncle Matt” take the mound. I will tell them his story. I will tell them the dream he had the courage to pursue. And, I will tell them how he never gave up. We will cheer him on as he plays for the Glory of God. The God who placed this dream in his heart, and the same God who is with him always. On and off the playing field.
DREAM BIG my friends. You never know where The Lord will take you.
Just one more thing…
Matt’s favorite movie when he was little….well. He had a lot of favorites. But, between Peter Pan and Angels in the Outfield they run a tight race! To commemorate his love for Angels in the Outfield… Matt, these two angels will be flying with every ball that is released from your arm tomorrow. I love you, buddy.
L to R: William Harold Maready, Sr. “Granddaddy” and Harry Lewis Carlton “Papa”