By JIMMY LAFAKIS
FERDINAND — I strive to be a student of the game. Throughout the past 24 years, I have learned that life will surprise you — especially when you least expect it. Earlier this week, I stumbled across a quote that will stick with me for a long time.
The quote is attributed to American poet and novelist James Oppenheim. Oppenheim said, “The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance. The wise grows it under his feet.”
Seeing that quote was an example of serendipity, which is a word I’ve thought about recently. Serendipitous moments are sometimes described as “happy accidents,” which arrive at unexpected times.
I’ve asked myself, “How can I grow happiness under my feet?” I’ve found the serendipitous answer, and it lies within the spring sports season.
During the winter, I wrote several columns about my love for Indiana high school basketball. Folks from states such as New York, North Carolina, Illinois and Texas stand up for their respective areas, and rightfully so. However, Indiana reigns supreme as the basketball state in our country.
Perhaps more underappreciated — a “hidden gem,” if you will — is the talent across the entire Southwest Indiana spring sports scene.
As I progressed through my high school career at Lake Central, I studied the baseball teams around the state. Something about this area stuck out, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
It did not take long for me to realize that this region is different than most others. I learned about Jasper’s rich tradition after more research. I said to myself, “Those teams can play some ball down there.”
The passion is not limited to baseball, though. It permeates throughout every sport. These young men and women bring that same fire to all of their activities. The past six months have opened my eyes to some incredible competition.
The spring season is in its opening stages, and I look forward to learning more about each local team. I am a visual learner, so I enjoy witnessing the action first-hand with my camera. Watching these teams practice and play has laid the groundwork for a memorable spring.
As I watched the Forest Park baseball team play Barr-Reeve on Friday evening, I couldn’t help but think about how much has changed in the past year. I was in North Dakota last spring, but some serendipitous moments led me back to my home state in the fall.
This year is filled with hope. Country rivalries are in bloom. Coaches, players and fans alike come out in full force to represent their teams with fervor. I am grateful to observe and document this unprecedented season.
I hope to regale these tales with my future children and grandchildren one day. All the time I’ve spent as a student of the game will pay off, as I will teach them about the joy of stepping onto a field of dreams and immersing yourself in the dirt.
Until then, I encourage you to grow happiness under your feet.