Coach John Scolinos

(Originally posted October 24, 2012)

I was a 17-year-old freshman in my first college class.  My 70-year-old professor walked purposefully but a bit hunched over.  His voice was gruff and raspy.  He spoke loudly and walked through the rows of desks as he lectured.  He was confrontational with his students but passionate about everything he taught.  It was the beginning of the second week when he handed back our first assignment.

“Now some of you people have got to learn that when you turn in a college paper you don’t turn it in with squiggly marks all over it!” he bellowed.

Yes, this was before computers and the assignment did not have to be type-written.  He went on to write on the board (yes, it was a chalk board) to demonstrate how some students had scribbled over misspelled words or errant thoughts.  

He finished lecturing us on college homework etiquette and looked down at his stack of papers.  “Who is Chris Wolff?” he said in the same gruff, unapologetic voice.

I timidly raised my hand and squeaked, “I am.”  Then cleared my throat.

“I need to see you after class.”  He quickly moved my paper to the bottom of the stack and began reading off the names in the upper right corner of each paper.  Students were dismissed after they retrieved their graded assignment.

My friend leaned over to me.  “What did you do?”

I turned a darker shade of red and answered, “I don’t know.”  Finally he reached the last paper in his stack.

“Are you Chris?” he said glaring at me.

I smiled and nodded as I slowly made my way towards him at the front of the room.  He held my paper in his hand, his thumbnail pressing tightly against something I had drawn in the upper right corner of page two.

“What is this?” he said with still no hint of a smile.

What his thumb was pointing to was the Christian symbol of the fish.  You see, this college professor of a State University had given his First Aid students the assignment of reading the story of the Good Samaritan and writing a paper as to why it was important.  I guess I just wanted him to know I was a Christian so I drew the fish in the corner of the page.

I swallowed hard.  “I- I’m a Christian,” I stuttered.

“That’s what I wanted to hear!” he shouted as his face broke into a beautiful smile.  He patted me on the back so hard I nearly went sailing into the empty desks.  He went on to shake my hand and tell me how happy he was to meet me.

This man was Coach John Scolinos, one of the most amazing college baseball coaches on the planet!  He was a legend at Cal Poly and loved and admired everyone who knew him.  He was also an amazing man of God, never afraid to share his faith.  He was one of the “gloves” in my life.

From that second week of my college life to the day I graduated, Coach became like a spiritual grandfather to me.  He would introduce me to anyone who walked by us as we talked.  He would challenge me to be a witness for my faith.  He would ask me tough questions and want to know where I was in my walk with the Lord.  He loved me with God’s kind of love.  He always made me feel special (even though I was the one in the presence of a legend).

Coach Scolinos was just one of the many “gloves” the Lord has blessed me with over my lifetime.  Take some time today to reflect on those people who have impacted you with God’s love.  Who have been the “gloves” in your life?  Thank Him for them… and then, thank them.

I missed the opportunity to thank Coach Scolinos before he went to be with the Lord.  I wish I could have told him how much he meant to me and how he impacted me.  I will get that chance someday and I’m looking forward to it!

Five Most Important Words: “Surround Yourself With Good People.”
-Coach John Scolinos

Dear Lord, thank you for blessing us with people who allow your love to flow through them and into our lives. Father, help us to be the glove on your hand to those you place in our path. Thank you for touching us through people! May you be glorified in our relationships. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.


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