The Hall of Fame. It is the validation of athletes and coaches in the their chosen disciplines. It is the recognition by peers, media and fans for the hours, days and years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice that these individuals put into their trade to make them the very best at what they do.
The Hall of Fame. It can Immortalize a man or woman and put them into the company of those we only dare speak of at the rarest of great days.
The Hall of Fame. It can be the place that eludes those it deems unworthy. So, in a world where athletes and coaches are judged daily by armchair quarterbacks, bleacher moms and high school legends looking for one more day in the sun, what does the Hall of Fame really mean?
To me, it can be summed up in the life of one man. A man that grew up in rural Indiana working long hours with his siblings on a small farm. They worked for man, their father, who in his own right was a Hall of Famer. Lloyd C. Ball was a war hero, a loyal husband and a loving father.
The oldest son, Armond was an obedient and mild-tempered boy. He had aspirations of life after the farm, aspirations of doing something different with his life. Not better or worse but different. So, he left Morgan Road and headed to Ball State University.
He wanted to be a teacher; he wanted to be a baseball player. But, in the end, he became a Hall of Famer. In Munice, he found his passion and his life-long love(besides Sandra Marie Grotrian, of course). It was the game of volleyball.
Arnie's playing career was short but illustrious. After only one year at BSU, he become the team captain and MVP. He continued to play for the next 20 years. He played with the heart and dedication that he preaches to his young players yet today.
But, playing volleyball isn't what would get Arnie into the HOF. It would be his coaching. But, I will tell you this, coaching is only a small part of why Arnie Ball, my father is getting into the Hall of Fame.
There is not ONE day that goes by that someone doesn't approach me and ask me if I am Lloy Ball. I say, "Yes, I am." Then, they proceed to spew story after story on how Arnie was their coach or teacher at New Haven or Harding or IPFW. They spew on about how caring yet critical and nurturing yet passionate he was as a teacher and mentor. The continue with how they have taken the athletic and life lessons he taught them and put them to use in their daily lives, and how those attributes have lead them to success in business, life and family.
When they speak of their former coach or teacher, their eyes light up as if speaking about their own father and how proud they are of themselves for turning out so well thanks to his instruction. Hundreds, no thousands have been mentored by Arnie. Most without their knowledge, at least until later in life when we truly begin understand those who have help mold us into the people we are today.
My favorites are the old students or players that tell me how much they hated Dad when he taught or coached them. How he constantly pushed them to raise their expectations and their goals. They would swear at him under their breath all the way home. Those are the ones that love him the most now. He saw in them what they could not see in themselves. That my friends makes you a Hall of Famer.
In closing, some of you may call this article somewhat biased. You'd be right! I owe my life, my faith, my wife, my kids, my passion and my Gold Medal to Arnie Ball. He was my best man at my wedding. He was my coach and teacher. He is my mentor and inspiration yet today. He made me, like those thousands of others the person I am today.
People, especially kids, ask me all the time, "Who is your hero?" Without hesitation and without a shred of doubt in my mind I always answer, "My father." He is that greatest man I have ever or will ever know. To me, a little boy from Woodburn, that makes him a Hall of Famer.
Congrats and may God continue to bless you, Dad.